Is your child having trouble settling in at school?? School can be a big transition for some children and their parents.
It was around this time last year that Leeloo started having problems at school. My confident child, who used to get annoyed with me if I stuck around too long in kindergarten, was now, clinging to me, wrapping herself around me and not wanting me to leave her at school.
I was teaching my program Mindful Storytelling at her school. She had been to so many of my workshops she was tired of me talking about taking deep breaths. As a consequence she resisted the help I was trying to give her.
She would start saying ‘I don’t want to go to school tomorrow’, the night before. On the way to school she would forget and sometimes be very excited about her day ahead. As soon as we walked through the school gates she began to feel anxious.
“I don’t feel comfortable mummy! I don’t feel comfortable.”
My Big Mistake
At this point, I would try to get her to tell me why. I would become worried that it was the school, another child, or something happened with the teacher. I am not saying these aren’t valid questions, but they weren’t a part of the solution. Basically, I tried to get her to tell me a story about these strong feelings. A story or issue that I could solve.
Creating a story did one thing, it just made me feel anxious. It fed into my worry about, have I chosen the right school, am not doing enough to help her, maybe it’s too much for her, too academic, too many kids, why didn’t I move to the country like I said I was going to do, etc.
All these thoughts, of mine, did not help. What she needed was…
for me to be the calm in the storm not feed into the chaos she was experiencing.
One solution for us…
Near the end of last year, I realised she just needed to have a quick conversation with the adult who was taking over from me. Then she felt a bit more grounded.
Over the school Holidays the REAL solution emerged…
Breathing into the Feeling-When she gets anxious or has strong emotions we stop and sit somewhere.
Then I say…
- I can see you are feeling uncomfortable (her words not mine. Your child may be feeling upset, sad, worried, etc).
- Where can you feel that uncomfortable feeling in your body?” Put your hand on that spot (could be the stomach, heart, solar plexus). They may not feel it in their body at first, or at all, but it is a good place to start if they do.
- Now we are going to take a nice big breath into that spot. Then breath out slowly. We will take 5 to 10 deep Belly breaths.
- How do you feel now?
Other Techniques We Use to Support
1.Emotional Freedom Technique (Eft) also called Tapping Before Bed: We have used this technique since Leeloo was 3. There is plenty of information online. I highly recommend it to support parents and children.
2.Big Sky Mind: You and your child look up at the sky. “Look how big the sky is. It is huge. When you look at the sky it is a reminder that no matter how big a problem may seem when we compare it to the sky it is small.”
3. Yoga before bed or in the morning before school. Check out Cosmic kid . There are specific yoga postures that support children’s nervous system, stimulate the organs and adds to the general strength and stability your child feels. Cosmic Kids always has a message to their story that is reinforced in the relaxation at the end.
4. Play dates: Try to organise play dates with other children in the class after school or on the weekends. Having that connection with classmates makes children feel safe and a part of their community. Even coming early and having a play before school can help with that tricky morning transitions.
5. Special items to share with friends: Let your child bring an item like a toy or something, that isn’t food, that they can share with their friends at recess or lunch. Obviously, if your child is someone who finds sharing challenging this is not a good idea. However, for some children it can be something to look forward to later on in their day.
6. Visualise your day: In mindful storytelling we do a relaxation or a visualisation at the end of every lesson. This week I got the children to lay down on their mats and relax their bodies. Our theme was friendship.
Think back to a time when you were playing with a friend. How did you feel? Get a picture of your friend. Are they smiling or laughing? Now we are going to imagine a moment for later today. Maybe it is at lunch. You are playing with your friend and your friend is smiling. They are smiling because you have done something to show that you are a good friend. Stay with that picture. What game are you playing? How are you feeling?
You can use a similar visualisation before bed to plant a positive seed about things to look forward to at school the next day.
This Too Shall Pass
The number one thing, I would ask you to remember is… this stage is impermanent. It will pass. I know this for sure because my daughter has emerged in grade one a confident member of her school and class community. It just may take time and practice. These techniques I have listed above are life long tools that my children and I use daily.
Wishing you a Mindful Transition to school for the whole family.
Love, Laughs and Mindful Moments
P.S. If you would like to see Mindful Storytelling at your school follow this link to find out more…