School mornings for youngsters can be hectic. Between brushing teeth, getting dressed, eating breakfast and leaving the house on time, the chaos from the morning often sets the tone for how a child’s day will go. Experts say it is more important than ever to squeeze in some time to practice calming techniques at home to help with school success.
Dr. Jerry Bubrick, senior psychologist at the Child Mind Institute Anxiety Disorder Center, says the first thing to remember is that kids are sponges and feed off their parents’ energy.
“If parents are stressed out, kids most certainty will be,” he says. “Some of the best way to calm our kids is to calm ourselves first.”
One way parents can achieve calmness is by maximizing their time the night before – make lunches, pack backpacks, lay out clothes for both yourself and your kids, etc., Bubrick suggests. He encourages parents to leave as little for the morning as possible.
Parents should also allow themselves to have some “me” time in the morning. Taking care of your own needs first will help to put you in a calm state of mind — a great way to start your day.
Other fun tactics that encourage kids to be calm while engaging them include:
1. The flower-soup deep breathing activity
Encourage kids to stay calm by imagining that they are smelling roses by inhaling in and then cooling the soup down by blowing out.
2. Body spaghetti
One way to teach a relaxation strategy at an early age is by talking to kids about raw spaghetti, which is stiff and tense, and cooked spaghetti, which is loose and flexible. Parents can have kids act out uncooked spaghetti by tightening their muscles and then becoming loose spaghetti by shaking everything out.
3. Mindfulness apps
There are several mindfulness apps for children that provide fun, engaging activities that teach them the basics of mindfulness like breathing exercises, visualizations and focus-based meditation. Bubrick says his favorites are Headspace (for kids) and Calm.
4. Drawings of their day
Give kids a blank piece of paper and crayons and ask them to draw the type of day they want to have. When you pick up your child from school or when they walk in the door at home, ask them how closely their day resembled their drawing.
5. Writing in a journal
Grab a standard notebook and let your child decorate it with designs, markers, stickers – whatever fits their personality. Designate it as their morning journal in which they can retreat to when they need time to themselves.
6. Virtual yoga
Host Jamie Amor creates interactive adventures for kids by mixing yoga poses with their favorites stories like Frozen and Stars Wars. The Cosmic Kids YouTube channel is filled with so many family exercises that you can easily fit the videos in your morning routine.
7. Making and using a calming jar
Fill a mason jar or plastic water bottle with colorful glitter glue. When you shake it up, kids become mesmerized as glitter fills the water. Pinterest has plenty of other great ideas to try.
8. Reading a mindfulness book
There are a few books that help children be mindful. Our favorites — B is For Breathe, Breathe Like A Bear and A Handful Of Quiet – all include short, breathing practices and movements that can be performed anytime, anywhere.
9. Playing with slime
Playing with slime and listening to the noise slime makes can trigger calming signals in your brain and be very relaxing. Note: If your child has a hard time separating from toys, this might not be an ideal morning activity for them.
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