A few days ago, I was walking through a school hallway when I saw a poster that listed ways for students to reduce their stress at school. My first reaction was surprise; my second reaction was one of gratitude. Gratitude to the administration and school staff for acknowledging that stress is an increasing issue for students and identifying ways for students to diffuse their stress. Here are some tips that will hopefully prove useful for school staff, parents and youth.
- Be a good role model. Practice some kind of meditation (breathing, visualization, prayer, yoga). Doing so will help you say YES to life and be a positive role model in your children’s lives.
- I know mornings are rush times! Parents, make sure that you MINDFULLY focus a minute or so on your child(ren) before they leave for school. What does it mean to mindfully focus? Focus ALL your loving attention on your child. Take their hands, put your hands on their shoulder(s) and let them know they will be in your heart that day, that you will be sending them compassion and positive energy throughout the day, and you will be looking forward to them coming home. After all, they are going to work, too!
- Parents, paste, pin, fasten a family picture inside their backpack with an accompanying note that identifies a strength and/or a character trait. An accompanying short note helps. Example: “You are my sweet Lisa. When I see your smile, you light up my world. I am so grateful you are my little girl.” OR “It’s a pleasure to watch you progress in your swimming lessons. At first, you were frightened to put your head in the water, but now you are floating on your own! I admire your determination.” Change the note every week.
- Strongly encourage your children to go outside at recess and noon hour and PLAY. It is invigorating for children to swing, slide, play basketball. Children who PLAY rather than stand around and grumble until the bell rings do better in school.
- Teach your children that they are in charge of their own feelings and thoughts. When they feel tired, crabby, encourage them to move and change their mood!
- Teach your children to FOCUS on their breathing when they are feeling cranky, anxious, angry, etc. To themselves, they can say, “Breathe in the good, breathe out the bad.” Have them practice this with you several times with you. Do it often and make it a habit.
- Conflict inevitably arises on the school playground. When your child complains that Sally no longer wants to be a friend, acknowledge feelings and indicate that Sally may be having a bad day, just wants to be alone or play with others. Remind them that tomorrow will probably be different and Sally will be a friend again. Tell your child that feelings and thoughts are temporary.
- Be sure your children eat healthy foods (the less processed, the better) and drink water (stay clear of juice boxes and energy drinks)
- Children need 8-10 hours of sleep. Even if your children don’t sleep right away when they go to bed, they can read in bed, listen to calm music or engage in quiet activities.
- Put away the technology at least an hour before bed. Avoid sending cell phones, etc. to school. Even if it isn’t school policy, advise your children to only use cell phones for specific times (not recess or lunch!).
- Teach your children that they can always appreciate themselves. Not everyone is going to notice their successes, but they can always congratulate themselves on their progress, big and small.
Consistently following these tips will help your children have a better sense of well-being and experience less stress!