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…Beating Back-to-School Stress By Kim Norton
ack to school can be a stressful time for the whole family – not just the kids! Maybe your child is starting a new school and you are worried they won’t “fit in” or maybe your child is about to start High School. Excuse me but when did that happen? Letting go can be hard but there are strategies you can implement to help ensure a successful transition for all.
Slowly bring the bedtime hour back. If you have been letting your kids stay up later over the holidays, bring their bed time back slowly. Start about 5 days before the return of school: just make their bedtime 15-20 minutes earlier each night and their waking time by the same amount each morning until they are back to their normal school time sleep schedule. Create (or return to) a calm and predictable bedtime routine. Let’s face it, a lot of routines go out the window over school holidays - it is part of the whole holiday experience! But when term-time looms, the bedtime routine needs to return. Kids thrive and suffer a lot less stress and anxiety when they can predict what is about to happen. Develop a routine for different nights of the week and then stick to it. Use a visual planner like a white-board or wall calendar that can easily be viewed by the whole family. A good bedtime routine starts about 3 hours before sleep so think about what your child is doing, watching and playing during this time and how it may be affecting their sleep.
Our older primary school kids, and most certainly our high school kids, would have had homework or books to read over the holidays that they probably did not tell you about. Don’t wait till the week before school returns but check in with them a few weeks prior and make sure that they are on track to complete all homework tasks.
Reduce screen time, especially at night. It is probable that restrictions around screen time have been relaxed over the holidays. Studies suggest that screen time be restricted to 1-2 hours before bedtime as the light emissions from electronic devices can suppress the release of the hormone melatonin, which is important for regulating our sleep-wake cycle. Definitely consider this when constructing your bedtime routine. 82
Peninsula Kids – Summer 2018/19
Introduce your children to some breath work and meditation. This will empower your child to self regulate and manage their own stress when you are not around. One simple breathing technique for the older kids and teens is a one-minute meditation. Simply stop what you are doing and just concentrate on your breath for one minute: breathe in 1, breathe out, breathe in 2, breathe out. Just breathe. If your mind starts to wander back to those stressful thoughts just return to your breath and count as you inhale. You should get about 16 breaths in one minute. Our younger kids can simply stop and count 4 or 5 breaths. Everyone can then return to the task at hand feeling a lot calmer. Be prepared! Clean out the school bag (eek!) and ensure uniforms still fit and are in good condition. Try to have the school bag packed and uniform washed and ready to go a couple of days in advance. If your child has a study area or desk, make sure this is also clean and tidy and ready to go. (Bonus points if you can get them to clean their rooms!) Have the school lunch and snack ingredients on hand. Watching you rush around and listening to you stress the day before will not ensure a calm transition to school for anyone.
Peninsula Kids Summer 2018/19