I’ve said it before, high school is no longer a place for your child to explore what they might want to do with their life. It’s a place where often they worry about their rank and how many AP classes to take. It’s a place where some overschedule themselves to make sure they are invested in the arts, athletics, and service-the big three universities use to evaluate extracurricular activities. It stresses me out! Can you imagine what this does to our kids?
I’ll share a personal story. My daughter, who is majoring in theatre when she gets to college, was initially freaking out that she would get a B in AP Statistics. Mind you she never needs to take another math class again! As someone who lacks the math gene and would never have had the letters AP before a math class, I was blown away by this. Where was the “I tried my best, and I’m proud of myself?”
And don’t think it’s only high school. I used to teach preschool and we knew that children who couldn’t read 30 sight words by October of their kindergarten year were in danger of being held back.
What Is Wrong With This Picture?
When will our educational system think about the whole child? When will our kids stop merely studying for the test and taking certain classes in the hopes of attending the right university? Will we realize there are so many different paths to a successful future? And who defines success anyway? I for one think success is not measured by the size of your house or the kind of car you drive.
I’m not sure when the system will change, but I do know one thing, you can give your kids
supplies for a less stressful school year
So when doing your back to school shopping, consider some supplies that will help your children stress less. Not only will this help them navigate the intense waters of school but it will give them tools for life.
A Good Pair of Walking Shoes
Tongue in cheek, but seriously, getting your child outside, in nature, is one of the best things one can do to relieve stress. In some countries doctors are prescribing a daily walk in nature as a way to relieve stress and possibly help with depression. A simple Google search will result in hundred of articles about the many benefits of walking in nature. Have a dog? Make the daily walk your child’s chore. They may grumble but ultimately you are helping them.
A Yoga Mat
The mind-body connection in yoga as well as the focus on breathing are like a one-two punch for stress and anxiety. But not only that, yoga will help your child get fit and strong. My daughter has accompanied me to yoga classes at the YMCA. My son, now, that’s not an easy sell. But his coaches have said it’s a powerful tool for increased performance. Maybe a video is in his future. The yoga, health and well being products from yogamatters.com are gorgeous, a real stress-less treat. Need some advice on which yoga mat is right for you? If so, check out Sport Fitness Advisor’s article “Best Yoga Mat.”
Luxurious Bath Products
What is it about a nice long bath or shower that relieves stress? If you have teens, like me, you are probably thinking “do you know what my water bill is?” Yes, teens can spend a lot of time in the bathroom but I know my daughter is like a different person after she emerges from a long bath. Let’s teach our kids that it’s OK to take care of themselves. A luxurious bath bomb from Lush would definitely give your girl reason to hang out in the bath. For boys, why not give them an amazing scented bath soap? I personally love the Burt’s Bees Body Wash for Men.
An Adult Coloring Book
Gorgeous coloring books are all the rage right now. Amazon has a great selection. I have the “Time Chamber” because the artist is Daria Song and I NEVER see my name on things! Hey, it’s as good a reason as any.
Coloring, like knitting, cross-stitching, pulling weeds or any rote activity, allows the mind to rest. When your child focuses on what they are coloring they are essentially practicing mindfulness, or meditation. Don’t underestimate these types of activities as anxiety reducers. My mother and I used to color at the kitchen table together and drink Russian Tea when I was in high school. Wow! Was she ever ahead of her time. So, brew a cup of tea, grab a latte to go, and have a coloring session with your child and let the anxiety melt away-for both of you.Coloring, like knitting, cross-stitching, pulling weeds or any rote activity, allows the mind to rest. Click To Tweet
A Meditation App
I tried meditation years ago and either 1) freaked out that I couldn’t stop thinking about my to do list or 2) fell asleep. So I abandoned it. But recent articles and a great app have led me to realize that it’s not as hard as it looks-and-that’s its a must have for my overall health. Need some more convincing? Read “47 People Comment on the Benefits Meditation has brought them” by Katie Holmes.
There are many meditation apps around but my favorite is Headspace. First, the man’s voice is not irritating to me. I could listen to that melodious Australian accent all day long. Plus, there is a ten minutes a day for ten day introductory series that teaches you how to meditate. His reassuring comments to “watch your thoughts go by as if you were watching cars go by on a highway” makes me feel okay for having a wandering mind sometimes.
My daughter-who would probably be mad if she knew I was sharing this with you-meditates by the elements of fire, earth, air and water. She imagines relaxing scenes in each element that remind her of a happy time-a campfire, a forest, puffy clouds and raindrops-for example.
Your kids may think you have gone hippie on them, but teach them to meditate. You will be giving them a tool to reduce anxiety for their entire life. Research shows that meditation changes the brain. Without boring you to tears, meditation reduces activity in the rumination part of the brain where your child’s mind runs away with itself freaking out about the million things he needs to do for school, sports, volunteering etc. So, the next time your child starts to go into freak out mode, he can get himself out of it faster-thanks to meditation.
If you want a great guide on everything mindfulness, please read What Is Mindfulness? by Relax Like a Boss. This thorough reference discusses the difference between mindfulness and meditation, an explanation of the science behind mindfulness, 5 exercises and more!
By now you’ve probably picked up reams of college-lined notebook paper, highlighters and index cards. The stress of the school year is fast upon us. Consider some other types of school supplies to help your child have a calmer, happier year.
I’d love to hear from you. What do you do to help your child reduce stress?
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