Nothing is more heartbreaking than your child coming home from school with hurt feelings or discovering your own child is responsible for the pain of other children. The older your kids become, the more opportunity they have to experience both sides of these social dynamics at school.
I always take a deep breath before telling parents they can reduce all of this by using mindfulness tools because I get it! These problems seem much bigger and more painful than mindfulness can heal.
A healthy mindset is the most important tool your child needs when they are gone for seven or more hours each day. Their exposure to other thoughts and opinions might differ greatly from what you teach your children at home. Also, your children are left to their own devices when deciding how to react to the experiences they are exposed to throughout their school day.
So, how can you set your children up to be mindful and compassionately reactionary throughout their school days?
1- Reduce Your Own Chaos
As a new school year starts, kids experience new classrooms and move from relaxed to hectic schedules. Only get to connect with your kids at night? Don’t underestimate the power of mirroring neurons and the impact of your own energy on your family. Reduce your chaos with meal planning, keeping a schedule and finding and using your calming tools! Yoga & meditation are options that work great for me. I also play binaural beats pretty regularly.
2- Intentional Transitions
Intention is so impactful during transitions. For your kids, coming home after school is a big transition. Having a set transition routine after school doesn’t have to be complicated! A simple after-school routine can include having a designated place to drop backpacks and making sure empty lunches are put in the kitchen and remade. Maybe your kids need a bit of a break before they can tackle homework, so include a physical transition into the night. Try a shower or a bath (increase those negative ions), breathing, or meditations! My kids love clearing the energy in our home with stones and smudging.
3- Five Minutes in the Morning
Leave extra time in the morning so your kids can connect with you. I know– who has extra time? It doesn’t need to be a lot of time. Even five minutes can make a huge difference. Pre-plan your morning and set yourself up for smooth sailing. Your undivided attention gives your family a mental pause in the morning to discuss worries and intentions. Try having a family breakfast time so you can discuss your hopes and worries for the day while shoveling in some cereal.
4- Use Storytime
Bedtime stories are a great way to share lessons and morals with a new voice and perspective. My kids still love being read to at 7 and 10 years old! There are books addressing just about every struggle kids face today. I love, “Buddha at Bedtime” for stories with mindful morals, “My Magic Breath” and “I Am Peace” for showing your kids how mind-body tools can serve them! There is also an incredible list of anti-bullying books for every age here.
5- Find Gratitude
Gratitude is simple. When practiced repeatedly, it’s so effective it almost feels like cheating! Be grateful for the things that already exist in your life organically and simply. Guide your kids to be grateful for their teeth, their crayons, their loved ones, their snacks! When you practice regularly, you begin to expect to have more to be grateful for in the days to come.
6- Kids Can Outgrow Others.
Sometimes we have expectations for our kids’ friendships. Especially when they are friendships our kids had in past years and affect the relationships we’ve made with their friends’ parents. Don’t put your own judgments or desires on those friendships, the exception being if you think your child is in an unhealthy relationship with another child. Remind your child they deserve to be respected and feel good in their friendships. Most friendships in our lifetime have a season and purpose. Maybe we learned from that person or they provided insight or support during a specific time in our life. Your kids can reap the benefit of this kind of understanding from the start.
7- Everyone is Imperfect.
Sometimes grownups have issues with bullies too! We look for people with flaws that go well with our own, who make us feel understood and comfortable. When people make us uncomfortable (for millions of various reasons) it’s easy to judge and gossip, especially when our peers are doing it. Often, our kids are in earshot! Be a great model to your children and practice non-judgment of yourself and others. We are all doing the best we can given the tools that we have learned in our lives. Respect and forgive others and approach one another with the guiding force of love. This intention to accept and welcome others different from us flows from ourselves to our children.
These tools can help you and your children face the challenges of a new school year with grace and peace.