It’s that time of year again, when the kids head back to class. This can be a time of excitement and possibility, but it can also be a time of anxiety for many. So how can we help our kiddos head back to school feeling calm and confident? Therapist Emily Roberts, LMHC (and Founder of Rock Your Worth) has some simple tools to help you and your child.
Get Mindful of Your Emotions
Children, especially younger ones, pick up on the emotions of those around them. If they see parents or guardians feeling nervous or stressed about the school year, they will be nervous as well. Help them get excited about the new school year. This could be shopping for school supplies, learning about their teachers and meeting kids in their class.
This also means taking stock of your own emotions as adults. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about the changes that back to school brings, be sure to manage your own anxiety and frustration. Talk to your spouse or support system, practice mindfulness and meditation, and try to regulate your feelings before talking to your child about theirs.
Talk to Kids About Their Feelings and Validate Them
“How are you feeling about riding the bus and meeting your new teacher?” Asking these questions reminds them that you’re available if and when they feel like talking. Keep in mind, kids often want to talk about things in order to vent and process, they don’t expect you to know the answer or fix everything. So instead of telling them, “there’s nothing to worry about” or “everyone feels that way,” use more validating language. “It makes sense that you’re feeling worried.” Listening to them and acknowledging your child’s feelings will help them feel more secure.
Create a Calming Kit
This activity is fun! I do this with my clients and encourage parents to create one and practice using it before the first day. Many teachers often appreciate when their students have self-soothing items, you can let them know about this in advance too.
In a special bag or pencil case, pick a few items that can help regulate emotions and remind your child that they are safe and loved. Here are a few examples:
- A journal: where they can write out (or draw) their feelings to share with a parent or trusted adult. This can also be a place where you and your child write affirmations to help them remember they can get through this and that they are strong and capable.
- Pictures: For younger children, this can have pictures of family members and pets for them to look at when they are feeling scared or worried. As well as pictures of things they can do when feeling sad or upset.
- Silly putty or thinking putty to self-soothe: My favorite putty is Aaron’s Thinking Putty which helps keep hands busy, increases focus and can provide tactile stimulation that distracts from intense emotions—my clients find it very soothing.
- Calming Crystals: I give all my clients a calming crystal to keep with them when headed back to school. I have them rub the crystal and repeat a mantra or affirmation like “I am capable and confident” or “I am safe and protected.” Research shows the self-soothing benefits that come from holding or touching a crystal are profound. The physical act of massaging a crystal for several minutes is proven to provide therapeutic benefits that help calm your nervous system, reduce stress and anxiety, interrupt negative thinking patterns, and improve focus to help you think clearly. Our Calming Crystals do just that!
- Get a stress ball: to squeeze and use progressive muscle relaxation skills. Practice this with your child—while breathing deeply and slowly, tense each of your body muscles one by one. Start with the feet and move up the body. Notice this tension, then breathe out and let go of the tension by completely relaxing the muscles. When practicing this with your child, have them choose a few spots on their body that they’d like to try. If an area doesn’t feel good or is uncomfortable, move on to a different part of the body. Many kids find tensing their fists and slowly releasing to the count of four or five is soothing, as well as pushing their heels or toes into the ground and releasing for the same amount of time.
Back to School Special
For the month of August, we will be doing a back to school special! Until the end of the month, get 15% off our entire Kid’s Collection and Calming Crystals with promo code BTS15 at checkout. We will also be sharing more tips and tools for back to school on our Instagram and TikTok so follow for more tools to help you and your child head back to school with ease!