Mindfulness & School Year Stress
Now that kids are back in school, more and more children are coming into our offices for anxiety-related problems. With pressure from parents, tests, competitive school atmospheres, and peers, academic work can sometimes cause significant amounts of stress and anxiety.
Where does mindfulness come in? Mindfulness can help your child stop and enjoy the moment, and punctuate a long school day with short moments of intentional rest. It can also help with test anxiety, and with decreasing levels of worry.
Here are a few exercises from the book “Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents)” by Eline Snel that could be very helpful:
- “The Little Box of Worries” (Snel, 2013, p. 75). In this activity, you and your child can make a homemade box together and label it the “worry box.” Every night before your child goes to bed, you can ask him or her if they have any worries from the school day they would like to release. You can write them down together, and place them in the box, and let your child know that it’s safe to leave them there. This helps your kid to be able to both verbalize and release the thoughts that worry them during the day.
- “The Conveyor Belt of Worries” (Snel, 2013, p. 68). This exercise is about teaching your child what thoughts are – that they are like an internal story, and are always going on, just like objects moving down a conveyor belt. In this, you teach your child to observe their thoughts, and become aware of what thoughts move through their head. It’s important to communicate that not all thoughts are true. You can then ask your child to close their eyes and imagine the thoughts moving through their mind, and to write down their top worries. Some may need to be dismissed, but if some keep popping up over a few days, they might be things that need to be addressed.
In teaching your child to be aware of their thoughts, and to release their worries, you can help him or her to decrease stress and have a better school year!