Whether we like it or not, the summer is coming to an end and the beginning of school is approaching. Just like last year, there is a lot of uncertainty and questions about what the school year will look like for many. As a parent, it can be challenging to support your child, especially if they are anxious about the return to school. Here are a few strategies that might be helpful—both for children and also for adults! A dysregulated parent cannot help a dysregulated adult. So take the opportunity to teach these to your children and practice them together to make for calmer home life!

TECHNIQUES FOR KIDS:

Square Breathing:

Focus on a square or rectangular object. Start top left – breathe in – as your eyes move to top right – exhale – on reaching top right – breathe in – and continue around – Practice this several times, or as long as necessary!

Grounding by Counting Backwards–5,4,3,2,1,…..

Name 5 things you can see:

What are the visual features, what are the colors? Are there different parts, and what size are they? How would you describe it to someone who couldn’t see it? What feelings come up as you see it?

Name 4 things you can feel:

Notice and describe the texture—the weight, the temperature? Is it enjoyable to touch or does some other feeling come up?

3 things you can hear:

What is the pace of the sound? The rhythm? Is it consistent or chaotic? What is the volume? What feelings come up in your body when you hear the sound?

Name 2 things you can smell:

Explore the smell—is it powerful or faint? Familiar or unknown? Compare it to scents of other objects. What feelings and sensations come up with smelling each object?

Name 1 thing you can taste:

Put it in your mouth slowly and mindfully notice and describe any tastes. Where can you taste it on your tongue? What is the temperature and texture of the item? Chew it slowly and notice any sensations. Is it crunchy or mushy? Hard or soft?

Visualization:

This is a great technique to do the night before school to calm any first-day jitters.

School is coming up. It is going to be different this year, but it is going to be great. It’s natural to have some nervous excitement for new things, especially when they are different than they have been before.

Close your eyes and imagine you are waking up the morning of the first day of school. You wipe the sleep out of your eyes and feel rested and excited about the day ahead of you. Imagine getting up, putting on your clothes for the first day, brushing and styling your hair.  Imagine heading to the kitchen… what will you have for breakfast? Who will be with you while you eat? You eat and nourish your body, and your body feels good and strong because you have given it what it needs.

How will you get to school? Imagine traveling to school—will you be talking to your parent or a brother or sister? Will you be listening to music? Will you be walking? Or driving? Or riding a bike?  If you are doing remote learning, where will you sit? Do you have a desk? Or at the kitchen table? Or do you have another cozy spot where you can concentrate?

Imagine meeting your teacher for the first time—either in person or over the computer. Will you recognize your teacher from school last year? Will you see your music, art, PE teacher? Your teacher will smile at you and you will feel excited to get back to school and learn new things. Imagine seeing your classmates again—some you may have seen over the summer, some you may not have seen in a month, and there may be some new friends to meet.

Imagine sitting at your desk, learning about what you will be doing this fall, and feeling happy—happy about getting back into a normal routine, proud about all you will learn.

What will be different? You may be wearing a mask. You may be taking more breaks for hand-washing. The classrooms—whether you are at school or at home—may look different than you are used to. But what will be the same? Your teachers and your friends care about you. You are valued, people care for you. You will learn lots of exciting things this year and you are going to rock it!

Here’s to wishing you and your family a great school year!!