By Steven Neely, Clinical Director of Therapists
The buzz of going back to school can lead to different emotions for the family system. Here are a few practical ways that can help reduce anxiety while flourishing through this adjustment period.
Grounding techniques, mindfulness, and deep breathing are all wonderful tools to have in the parent tool belt especially when you feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Grounding techniques help establish a sense of stabilization and safety and help distract you from a variety of possible feelings and thoughts. When our schedules are packed with sports practice, work schedules, school pick-up and deadlines, it is easy for us parents to get overwhelmed. You are not alone! Here is one grounding technique that you can practice in the car rider line.
5- What are five things you see? ACKNOWLEDGE: persons, places or things
4- What are four things you hear? ACKNOWLEDGE: loud, quiet, far, close
3- What are three things you feel? ACKNOWLEDGE: tension in shoulders, scratchy tag, the heat from the sunshine
2- What are two things you smell? ACKNOWLEDGE: smells of nature, perfume, a candle
1- What is one thing you taste? ACKNOWLEDGE: chewing gum, coffee, a piece of candy
This grounding technique is great for you to be more in the present moment and to notice what you are experiencing.
Children thrive on routines! Everything from morning routines to start out the day to evening routines. Setting a routine is helpful because it takes the guessing out of the minds of our children and allows them to focus on what is planned for the day. There are many ways you can prepare your child for school, schedule a tour of the school to meet and greet teachers and classmates. Hang a calendar on the wall that has stickers for them to express how their day was with smiley faces, frowny faces or the great batman sticker of feeling like a superhero! Visual aids are fun for most children from kindergarten – 5th grade.
How about those teens? They truly are from a different planet. Once you figure out their language, you can learn something from this group of individuals! Like children, teenagers flourish when they have set routines, feel safe and feel heard. Now is the time to get that creative hat on and think of the time when you were a teenager. That may have been a difficult experience for some, but think about what YOU need at this point of your life?
Connection! Yes, teenagers need connection- whether it’s a friend group, a peer group, a club, sport or just a time to process their thoughts and feelings with safe individuals. The number one reason why teenagers feel depressed, stressed or have anxiety, is because they are lacking a safe place to process their new thoughts and feelings. A great safe space is a counseling group, Mercy offers groups for all ages. If a group sounds too scary or not cool enough for your teen, start by finding a therapist for individual counseling, a mentor, small group leader at a church or find time to talk with your teen and intentionally listen to their needs. At times, we can get in the way of trying to fix their problem, when what they need is our OUR grace, mercy and love!