Children’s Anxiety | How To Help with Returning to School
The coronavirus outbreak has caused major disruptions to daily life and children are feeling these changes deeply. While the return to school will be exciting for many pupils, others will be feeling anxious or frightened. Returning to school after six weeks break can be difficult for some children, and this year a lot of children are returning to school after an almost 6-month absence! In this article, we have included lots of tips to help your children navigate some of the complicated emotions they may be facing with going back to school.
Children’s Anxiety | How To Help with Returning to School
At YogaBugs we are fully aware of the pressures children are under and the anxiety they deal with every day, and this was pre-covid! Add in a huge lack of socialising with their friends, worrying about their families and the general uncertainty around the Coronavirus and children anxieties are increasing dramatically.
This is why we pride ourselves on being the UK’s number one children’s yoga and mindfulness company, helping children deal with stress and anxiety. Children’s mental health and overall wellbeing is the most important thing for us, which is why we are constantly creating new ways in which we can help.
If a child is experiencing anxiety, there are things that parents and carers can do to help. First and foremost, it's important to talk to your child about their anxiety or worries. Reassure them and show them you understand how they feel. If your child is old enough, it may help to explain what anxiety is and the physical effects it has on our bodies. It may be helpful to describe anxiety as being like a wave that builds up and then ebbs away again. As well as talking to your child about their worries and anxiety, it's important to help them find solutions.
YogaBugs is on a mission to help support school children, parents and teachers throughout this next school year. The Worry Tree is a really good starting point for you and your child to use. It is very simple, in the way that all they need to do is physically write down onto the tree what is worrying them. The idea of this is that writing about it takes it out of their minds and gives them an opportunity to talk about it with a parent or carer. The main end goal of this exercise is to leave their worries in the tree, setting it free from their mind.
When a child is feeling anxious, one of the most important things is for them to understand their emotions and remain positive. Here we have created an activity called Positive Post It Notes. These are small little post its where your child needs to think about positive things about themselves. This activity is also great for adults to complete alongside their child, as even as adults we sometimes forget to look at the positive traits of ourselves!
The Bugs Group Traffic Lights is also a great activity for children to stop and think about their emotions. This is a technique that can be taught to them to use once again in some situations when you cannot be there, to help them ground themselves once again.
Mindful Breathing Exercises
YogaBugs have been inundated with parents wanting support with their children’s anxiety and panic attacks. YogaBugs breathing activities are a must when suffering from anxiety. When you are calm, your body is in what is known as rest mode. Your breathing is normal, your muscles are relaxed, and your heart rate is normal. It's how you would be when you’re watching a show and relaxing. Breathing is an incredible tool for your child to learn as a coping mechanism for when you are not around. It is not something that takes up a lot of time and can be implemented into your daily routine very easily.
Mindful Breathing Exercise – 5 minutes
Mindful breathing helps children feel calm, relaxed and instils techniques to help them deal with their emotions from a young age. At YogaBugs we teach that every situation you face can be handled with a relaxed attitude and that it’s ‘mind over matter’.
- Sitting or standing is optional for this activity
- Ask the kids to place both hands on their stomach
- Kids need to close their eyes or focus on their hands for this exercise
- Ask the children to take three deep breaths in and out, ask if they can feel their hands being pushed and pulled.
- Count to 3 as they inhale and exhale, give a gap between the end of each breath.
- Ask the kids to think about what each breath is doing and how they feel as you go along, asking questions like;
- Can you hear yourself breathing?
- What does it sound like?
- Does it feel cold when you breathe in and warm as you breathe out?
YogaBugs on YouTube
YogaBugs YouTube not only has some fantastic yoga story adventures that can be followed at home, but also some breathing and relaxation technique videos to help children and adults sleep!
What to do if your child is feeling anxious
Starting school or starting a new school year can be stressful at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic. You can make your child feel at ease by having an open conversation about what it is that’s worrying them and letting them know that it’s natural to feel anxious (use the Worry Tree or Letting It Go here).
Children may feel nervous or reluctant to return to school, especially if they have been learning at home for months. Be honest – for example you could go through some of the changes they may expect at school, such as needing to wear forms of protective clothing like masks. Children may also find it difficult being physically distanced from friends and teachers while at school – you could encourage them to think about other ways to bond and stay connected (incorporate breathing techniques taught at home).
Reassure children about safety measures in place to keep pupils and teachers healthy and remind children that they can also help prevent germs spreading by washing their hands with soap and coughing or sneezing into their elbow.
Remind children about the positives – that they will be able to see their friends and teachers (if they are physically returning to the classroom) and continue learning new things.
Breathing techniques are a great tool to help aid childrens anxieties (Positive Post It Notes and other Bugs Group resources).
Keeping children safe
One of the best ways to keep children safe from COVID-19 and other diseases is to simply encourage regular handwashing. It doesn't need to be a scary conversation. Sing along with their favourite song or do a dance together to make learning fun. Make sure to teach them about how even though germs are invisible, they could still be there. When children understand why they need to wash their hands, they’re likely to continue doing so.
You can also show children how to cover a cough or a sneeze with their elbow, and ask them to tell you if they start to feel like they have a fever, cough or are having difficulty breathing.
Coventry Rocks has a brilliant collection of things to do in the local area, including some amazing Outdoor Spaces, Parks and Walks - perfect for getting some exercise with the family and clearing those anxious minds. Head to the homepage now and find somewhere new to explore.