The pressures of the year have been building, exams and assignments are ramping up to round out the year, then, there are all then other end of year activities for extra curricular happenings, end of year concerts and awards ceremonies, and what ever other activities your specific family may have in the mix as well. Parents are getting tired, and starting to work towards Christmas and all the joy/stresses/planning that that brings. And if you’ve had to do any kind of home schooling or just plain old homework management this year that’s probably jumped you all up to another level again. Phew!
Team that up with the social pressures of fitting in and feeling accepted, not feeling good enough for themselves and their peers, and the increasing pressure, anxiety, depression and low self worth kids (and adults) feel from engaging with social media, it can be a real rollercoaster for both kids and their parents.
As a mum of 2 highly anxious kids 12 & 16, who both have high expectations of themselves I am very aware of the anxiety and stresses that show up for these beautiful souls on a daily basis at school and home in relation to school and their peers. As a wellness specialist I’ve gathered tools and insights into the emotional, mental, physical, neurological, nutritional and hormonal aspects of stressed bodies and brains. I’ve helped countless kids and adults with balancing and self help tools to help regain balance and be their best self for each moment.
We all react to things and people around us but it is how we react that is important. It’s easy to feel like a particular person or activity at school makes them feel not good about themselves, but that is coming from a place of comparison. It might be to the other kids around them, the pressures or expectations they have of themselves that are not realistic, or social media, and the list goes on.
When we can help them move into a space of acceptance, they can view themselves and the world around them from a different, less stressful and more balanced perspective. From that place of acceptance and self confidence they are able to flow with the stresses of life rather than being knocked off course by them. Acceptance isn’t about liking or not liking what is happening around them or to them. It’s getting to a place where they can accept that some things are outside of their control, that the people around them will make their own choices about how they react and that none of these things make them any less of a person or takes away their self worth. Self worth cannot be earned, which means nothing and no one can take it away.
Sounds logical right, but how do we get them there? What are some things you and your kids can do to help yourselves over this next fast paced term leading into Christmas?
Take a break from social media and the news.
It’s a tough one but there are so many positive benefits of even just taking a break. It’s a big ask to step away completely but keep it in moderation and give yourself a break each week. If you want to know more about the influence of social media (and other things) on the brains of young people particularly, check out the book Teen Brain by David Gillespie. You can get it here if you are an eye reading person, or it also on Audible if you’re and ear reading person. He has a simplistic way of explaining the science behind it all and is a very good read in plain English.
Take 5-10 minutes each day to practice some deep breathing or a meditation.
10 minutes is great but as little as a 2 minute stop to focus on your breathing can do a lot to refocus the mind and remind your body that you are not being chased by bear. When we go into our fight flight response our survival mechanisms kick in. The diaphragm tightens up and we revert to shallow breathing, the toes, back, neck and fascia all tighten to prepare you to run (or hide in you room if you’re a teenager) and defend yourself (also expressed as angry emotional or physical outbursts in kids). The body also sends its resources AWAY from the brain – you know, that thing we need for executive functioning, learning, processing, decision making – and all the other important things related to why kids are at school. The reproductive system AKA hormones, and the immune system both take a hit as well. Taking time to turn down the sympathetic nervous system is one small way to help bring some balance back to the body.
Help your kids check in on the expectations they have of themselves.
Ask them if what they are expecting of themselves is reasonable? What would they say to a friend who might be having similar thoughts or judging themselves harshly? Remind them that they don’t have to be perfect at every subject, they just need to do their best. Help them stop comparing themselves to other kids in their grade or school and refocus them back to what they have achieved for themselves over the past week, month, year. The other place for heavy comparisons is when they are on social media. Having a conversation with them about the ‘highlights and show reel snippets’ that is the feed in their social media may be helpful also to help them gain perspective. Generally people don’t put up the crappy parts of their lives on social media.
Create space and opportunities for open dialogue with your kids.
Take them for a 1:1 date to the park, to the coffee shop, the ice cream shop, mini golf, something where you can just be and catch up with what is going on in their world. Validate their feelings, they are all normal feelings and emotions from toddlers to teenagers and beyond. Remember there are no wrong emotions. It’s only what we do with them that matters. By acknowledging how we feel about something or what we are feeling – even if we don’t have the right words or it comes out not quite right, it can help release some of the stress, guilt and potentially shame associated with the feelings we have. As a bonus the emotions are no longer suppressed where they can fester and build momentum in the dark corners of our minds. Let them know they can talk to you, vent about their day, or just have a hug if they need it. Lets face it we all need hugs.
However, if you feel like you or your kids are off the deep end, give me a call and we can talk about where you’re at with your circumstances and how a balance with Kinesiology can help support you or a family member, or both.
I’m sure there are many other tips, tools and techniques that can be helpful to keep things on track in a fast paced term. I’d love to know how you support yourself and your kids through this crazy term 4. It takes a village, so lets village. Hit me with your best ideas for keeping the wheels on for you and your kids.