Help Your Child Stay Centered when Returning to School

September 7, 2010

Going back to school is a transitional time for your children (and yourself). New routines are being formed, new friendships commence, and patterns from the summer and last year are being changed. It is a metamorphosis, and in these times of transition, it is important to help guide your child to remain centered and flow into this new pattern of life with ease.

So, what does being centered exactly mean?

Being centered is about finding a balance within life as a whole. A few aspects to touch on, are finding an equilibrium between left brain and right brain functions, mental activity and physical activity, inner and outer worlds, and our children’s perceptions of those. Maintaining balance allows your child (and yourself) to feel at ease, because their emotions and needs are taken care of, they’re appropriately stimulated and nurtured, they feel sure of themselves, and are happy, healthy and strong.

You can help your child to feel mentally strong and able to learn, by understanding and nurturing the balance of their left and right brain functioning. School work is primarily filled with left brained activities. For example: liner patterns, structural set ups that are sequential, logical time oriented and verbally based. You can aid your child with left brained activities by over viewing their days learning and routines, as well as working with them to do any homework or projects. To maintain balance in your child’s active mind, the right brain must also be stimulated. The right side of the brain is creative, timeless, intuitive, imaginative, and lacks space and boundaries. The right brain quiets down the left brain and thus allow your child to relax and unwind. Encourage, but don’t push, time for music, art, painting, dance, creative play, imagination, story telling, etc. Be supportive of their creativity and individuality and engage with them in their activities by following their lead. Other times you may also like to give them their space to really explore their own creative worlds. Feel out what is suiting for the time.

Balance also comes into play when looking at your child’s mind and body connection. School work tends to emphasize mental stimulation, while the body is sedentary for un-naturally long periods of time. This un-healthy stillness of the body, leads to pent up energy, leading to frustration and anxiousness. Since many of our schools are cutting back on Phys. Ed classes and older kids don’t have recess, it is up to us parents to ensure that our children are getting the proper exercise and physical activity that they need to stay strong, healthy and balanced. Being active also helps mental activity and stabilizes emotions. For long term health your child requires daily physical play and a physical outlet: dance, swim, run, walk, bike, engage in sport… whatever activity your child enjoys, have them do it as often as possible. While the weather is nice, get outside, and as the seasons change, plan for indoor activities that will peak their interest, and also fun outdoor activities in the snow. As well, it is of equal importance to make sure that your child is getting adequate rest and relaxation. Have a nice long un-wind time at the end of the day, dim the lights, play soft music, turn off the TV, computer and telephones, and let the pace really begin to slow. Read books together, breathe deeply, do some gentle stretching or light yoga as a family, to help all members quiet down and let go of the days events and stresses.

Nutritionally, your child’s body will benefit from natural, unaltered fresh foods. As the harvest season is in full swing, eating healthily is easy, things like squash, peppers, tomatoes, and apples are readily available. Plain simple foods that are eaten slowly, chewed well, and not over-loaded will help your child’s body to be strong and capable. Sit down as a family and talk about your day and interests, using this time to relax and fuel your bodies well. Aim to limit sugar, dairy and meat. Dairy and meat cause congestion in the body and are difficult to digest, while sugar is a primary cause of illness both mentally and physically in children and adults, leading to such problems as diabetes, obesity, ADHD, depression, anxiety, irritability, tiredness, sluggish brain functioning, grogginess and nervousness. Sugar also depletes protein, vitamin B, zinc, chromium and manganese in the body, making hormones out of balance, and leading to depression and fatigue over time. By limiting sugar you will help your child to feel calmer, clearer and lighter both emotionally and physically.

With all the new changes in routine that come with back to school, pay attention to how your child is accepting or resisting the new ideas and viewpoints that they are being met with and taught. Are they open to them? Do they question them? How do these new ideas sit with their own values? What do they agree with and what do they find challenging or upsetting? Perhaps are they resistant due to opinions that could be let go of… or do they feel that something in them is being threatened? Talk with your child as much as possible, in an open mined fashion, to see how they are feeling about all this new information. This leads us into the balance of your child’s inner and outer worlds and their perception. Their out world is new; school, classroom, teacher, students, paper work …etc. While their inner world is their senses, feelings and emotions. Talk with your child about both aspects, and really listen well. Be open and non-judgmental, as each child (and person) experiences the world differently. Try not to minimize their thoughts or feelings, and be there to hear what they have to say, and support them. When possible allow them to find their own answers and use their own internal resources by asking open ended questions, or give kind and simple guidance, followed up with questions like “would that maybe work?”, or “how do you feel about that idea?”, never pushing your thoughts and allowing them to be the final decision maker. Always let your child know that you have faith in them, and love them for who they are, no matter what actions or behaviors come about. Show them plenty of affection and most importantly give them your un-divided attention, as actions are much louder than words.

Helping your child remain centered through transitional times is not as simple as a do this, do that formula, it’s a dynamic and ever changing process. Different things are needed at different times, and are individual to each child. What works for one child, will not necessarily work for the other. The best way to help your child is give constant love and affection, and be aware of how they are flowing or resisting the changes in their lives. Have an open mind, communicate freely and use your heart’s wisdom and intuition. Know that you are doing well as a parent, take a deep breath, pat yourself on the back, and go forth kindly. By simply knowing that you are there and that you care, your child will feel stronger, safer and more at ease as things change around them.



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