No sooner did the Christmas decorations disappear from the shopping centres on Boxing Day, we found ourselves greeted with the Back To School displays, before we were even half way through the school holidays.
I'm not sure about everyone else, but this year, I found myself in a reluctant countdown mode, compared to previous years. While I can be flexible, I like many of us, thrive on a routine. But following the continuing hangover of 2020, I found myself grateful for, not overwhelmed by the summer break this year.
I have no doubt that later this week, both my son and I will be looking forward to the return. But like all big breaks from routine, I know that sneaky little anxious behaviours will slip into the fold as we transition back to normal. While I personally am not anxious about the return, I suspect my son may not even realise that he will become a little nervous going in to a new year. For the first time ever, I am now prepared for this.
As parents, no matter how many children we raise the same way, under the same roof, we have a different connection and bond to each of them. When anxiety comes into play for either of you, this can be challenging to accommodate, particularly within a greater household dynamic.
What are the signs of anxious behaviours? While, we may know our own signs and how to remedy them, e.g.- muscle tension, sleep disturbance, elevated heartbeat, to name a few - it can be more harder to detect in children as their feelings can often be bigger than their vocabulary.
Unexpected/ Misinterpreted anxious behaviours in children can include-
Highly emotive or violent reactions to changes in routine or expectations
The need to be consistently close to you
Extra effort being exercised in organisation
Changes to appetite
Disrupted or regressing sleep patterns
Argumentative behaviours such as the need to be right
Feeling ill but unable to identify where in their body
Excessive questioning and fixations on subjects
Wishing to stay in familiar places/ Nervousness in unknown places
As parents, we can become easily frustrated or misinterpret any of the above behaviours as undesirable and seek to discipline children for these. I've been there and done that, so often. So, how did I learn to stop and work with the behaviour to benefit our household?
I TOOK PAUSE
Learning some elementary mindfulness techniques helped me greatly. Rather than going to an immediate, often unhelpful reaction, I would stop. Take a breath and be in the moment. In the moment with my son. Using the beginner's mind to see the whole truth to the moment and exercising patience and trust, I learned to see the truth and whole picture. Was it easy? Not straight away. Did I relapse? Of course! But I persevered, each time making the choice to be in the moment with him.
When I use the term mindfulness, I don't mean I went all woo and meditated, or grounded myself. In that split second, I had a choice. REACT or RESPOND. By choosing to respond, it changes the trajectory of your connection immediately. By working even with just the three attitudes of beginner's mind, patience and trust, the effect on your child is immediate. They feel heard, validated and safe. What a perfect way to start the new school year!
These attitudes don't just need to be used to help your kids feel safe and secure entering the school year. Try them on yourself to alleviate your stresses and anxieties around the transition. Be kind and non-judgemental on your own thoughts and feelings and sit in the moment with them to foster a greater understanding of your experience.
Feel free to visit my Mindful Mums community group (www.facebook.com/MindfulMumsTHWBH) for further information on the attitudes of Mindfulness and how they can be implemented into your life as a parent. Or to navigate self-care and self-love on your own parenting journey, call or message me to find out how The Health & Wellbeing Haven can help. We have a 'Back To School' Self Care special at the moment. Recieve 30% off all our services until Feb 26, 2021. Use the coupon code SELFCARE30 at the checkout.
Well Wishes for the new school year,
Claire @ The Health & Wellbeing Haven