Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by Lolo’s Studio, New Orleans’ first youth-centered yoga, art and mindfulness studio.
Help Your Kids Manage Stress During These Uncertain Times
Even before the pandemic, stress and anxiety levels of kids was at an all time high. Since Covid even more kids have reported feeling overwhelmed by all of the risk and anxiety
Ask any mom what she wants for her kids and chances are that she will say she just wants them to be happy. As a mom of two great kids, one a newly minted teenage girl and a teenage man-child, I completely agree. But what I really, really want, is for them to understand the full potential of the power they have within to determine their response to stress, and the obstacles life throws their way.
Research shows that mindfulness helps kids to reduce their levels of stress and anxiety. Taking a few big breaths brings us into the present moment, it gives us just enough space between the stress stimulus to notice it, which allows us time to choose our response, rather than react reflexively. We may not get it right every time. But the more we practice, the more we develop our “mental muscle.” As is usually the case, the younger they are, the faster they learn and develop these new skills, skills which can help them in school, work and relationships.
As kids begin to notice their response to stress they learn to adjust and respond in a more positive way, even if to take a moment to say “This is really stressing me out.” or “I don’t know why I did that.” or “It’s a lot. Can I think about that?” I’ve seen this happen in kids ages five to fifteen. Little ones who cry at every disappointment start to manage their frustrations with fewer outbursts. Teens who yell first at every infraction begin to pause and respond more calmly. A frequent mindfulness practice has been proven to rewire the nervous system; the mental muscle becomes stronger and a new life skill is developed.
I wish I had known about mindfulness when I was younger. Even more, I wish I had known to teach it to my kids when I was prioritizing piano and everything else in their younger years. While I would love to hear them on the piano one day, it would bring greater comfort to know that they have developed their stress response, that they understand that allowing for space before responding often allows for awareness, self compassion and empathy, it allows for choosing a response rather than simply reacting.
As a Baptiste certified youth yoga instructor I have seen the benefits of helping kids to learn mindfulness, yoga and self-care. That’s why I started Lolo’s Studio, a youth yoga, art and fun fitness studio. Our mission is to help kids make the mind-body connection, to better manage the physical and mental stress of modern day living.
Tips for Gaining Control
So how do you get your child to manage the stress, uncertainty and anxiety they are experiencing? Whether it’s a recent F on a test, an argument with a bestie or bullying from kids at school, here are my top three tried and true tips to help your kids gain control over themselves and any situation they get themselves into:
Meditation and Deep Breaths
The next time your child is feeling overwhelmed or down in the dumps take a moment to just be with them, allow them a moment to not feel any pressure to explain or respond. Then encourage a 4-breath mindful moment. Have them sit or lie down in a spot that feels most comfortable and ask them to take some slow, deep breaths. Guide them as they release anxious energy from their body. If either of you is having a hard time settling into it, try a body scan to guide the mind through the process. Start with the feet, then to the knees, stomach, heart, throat and lastly the head. Simply notice how each body part feels in the moment, without any judgement.
Strike a Pose
Did you know that posing like your favorite superhero before a big performance or test can actually boost the self-confidence needed to ace it? It’s true, numerous psychological studies have shown that open postures convey a sense of an individual power and closed postures convey a sense of defeat. Ask your child to show you their best superpower pose. With two feet planted firmly on the ground, head held high, and hands on hips (chest opener) your child is now ready to conquer the day!
Dance/Jump It Out
You might not be a big fan of their favorite tunes, but try to have a good ‘ole dance party the next time your child has had “the worst day of his/her life”. Shake off the stress from the day and get the blood flowing in the most positive way. If dancing isn’t appealing, just jump up and down like a “crazy” person – throw in screaming for an added visceral response. Letting go physically leads to letting go mentally. This simple trick can also open the door to having open dialogue about what’s been bugging them.