By Janis Gioia, MAEd.
It’s the time of the summer that anxious children dread.
When running through sprinklers makes them think of a mad dash to catch the school bus.
When every TV commercial seems to advertise school supplies.
When long summer days get darker sooner, leaving less time for fun and a lot more time for worries.
I remember those days…as an anxious child, as a special education teacher, and as a parent.
There are so many things we can do, as parents, teachers and caregivers to make the transition smoother and a lot less stressful.
One way to do this is helping your child find hobbies or calming activities that keep them busy and give them less time to think anxious thoughts.
Think of them as high intensity and low intensity…kind of like a relaxation work out.
High intensity activities help children reduce anxiety through exercise: running, jumping on a trampoline, taking along bike ride or tramping through the woods.
Time spent in nature is always relaxing. My post How Nature Heals Anxious Children shares more ways to use nature to calm your anxious child.
Low intensity activities help children calm and quiet their minds, often through repetitive motions like coloring, playing with therapy dough or reading.
It’s easy to get caught up in the back to school frenzy of shopping for clothes and supplies, filling out forms, updating records and getting everyone out the door on time.
Remember, though, that anxious children are hyper-aware of adult’s anxiety levels and often feed off of them.
Incorporate calming rituals into your bedtime and morning routines.
Play relaxing music and have a vanilla citrus essential oil diffusing while your children dress and brush their teeth.
Get up a few minutes earlier to ease into the day with a quick story and cuddle before they head out the door.
Yes, this can be done.
Even if, and maybe especially if someone spills orange juice on their new shirt or oatmeal has wound up on the floor.
Reach for a short book like “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” or a selection from Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad series.
Starting the day with connection soothes your child’s anxiety and your own as well.
For more ways to help your child adjust to a new school year read:
10 Things You Can Do Now to Help Kids with Back to School Anxiety.
Wishing you and your child a beautiful, blessed and peaceful school year,