It’s Back to School Time

For most children, the next 30 days mean they are about to embark on a new school year! Most may know their new teacher's name by now, but not all. Kiddos begin to realize their comfort of being at home or school-based summer camps is winding down and they will be facing new challenges and responsibilities of learning greater skills. They will feel the expectations of aging up as they prepare for the new school year. For many, the excitement can be just that. Yet others feel a sense of dread as the anticipation builds daily, creating havoc and anxiety within.

Every child in every family is so different. While one child may fall on the can’t wait team another falls on the can’t do this group. Parents have to carefully manage their strategies for prepping their kids for that major first day back to school. The kids are worried about change, and if they will be okay.

"Which bus do I get on?" "Will I be able to do the work?"

"Will the teacher be nice?" "Will I know anyone in my class?"

"Will the kids like me?" "What if I miss my bus stop?"

The critical skill of recognizing big emotions as they begin to fester is the first step. It will help all children to know it’s time to take control of their thoughts before they escalate into a meltdown. Once they learn to recognize the physical changes in their bodies, like:

  • tense muscles,

  • tummy aches,

  • headaches,

  • anger,

  • inability to focus,

  • snapping at others.

Families can bring books, resources, and games into their homes for everyone to benefit from, including themselves. It is the best way to help the whole family to engage in mindfulness techniques to support wellness.

I remember the struggles all too well. When our youngest daughter was in kindergarten, she was struggling with big emotions and worries. She could fall to sleep, but her mind would soon race, causing night terrors. Then in the morning, the restless sleep would cause her to be tired all day, and she would be anxious about being on time or having social issues with friends. Back then the trauma of anxiety had not yet been studied. We established care with a therapist who suggested she listen to a methodical story before bed to help with sleep issues. We didn’t realize then that it was a mediation story to help bring her cycling mind to a restful state. It did work, but it didn't solve the daytime anxiety and the fears taking over.

Several studies over the past couple of decades have uncovered data that proves practicing mindfulness techniques provides a reset of emotions and can help to alleviate some, if not all, of the symptoms listed above. It may not stop the anxiety from starting up again, but continuous steps to reframe thoughts may reduce the episodes from occurring.

Everyone struggles at some point in life. Knowing the tools to use when everything feels like it’s spinning out of control, will help to stop the mind-racing thoughts to bring clarity and focus back. It can take just ten minutes. Really, just ten minutes.

Families can support each other by sharing mindfulness tools and even helping to remind one another they can practice these tools together. Imagine the power a child can feel as mom asks them to help her feel better by playing The 5 Senses Game together.

When young children watch mom and dad use these skills as a way to manage their emotional health, they will be inclined to mimic them. Children mirror their parents starting from infancy. Modeling self-awareness and self-help techniques teach children to recognize their abilities to manage their emotional well-being.

My goal in writing Niko Discovers the 5 Senses Game is to empower parents with the skills and tools to share with their children starting with the first read together. The rest of the Niko products help children recall the story and learn how to build self-sufficient skills to play on their own. It’s a game the whole family can use together and independently.

School is coming no matter what!

Now is the perfect time to add mindfulness tools into everyday life as the anticipation grows over the next month. Each family member can benefit by learning techniques to manage big emotions. Children need their parents to show them how.