Back to school can lead to increase feelings of overwhelm. Adapting to an advancement in grade level and a stricter schedule than you may have had during the summer months can cause stress, even for younger kids. When in the classroom, kiddos don’t have the opportunity to exit the situation and decompress by themselves. It may be helpful to teach your child (and yourself!) some grounding techniques when they feel excessive stress throughout their school day and can’t leave the classroom!
1. BELLY BREATHING
This one is just as it sounds! Have your kiddo place one hand on their belly and try to blow their stomach up like a balloon. Have them release all the air and flatten their stomach using the same balloon metaphor! Have them repeat this five times.
2. PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION
This one sounds complicated but it’s simple! Just have your child practice tensing their muscles for a few seconds and releasing them! Usually the result is a calm jelly-like feeling in the muscles! Kids love prompts like: “imagine holding a lemon in each hand and squeezing them tight to make lemonade!” And “imagine you’re pushing your feet into a big mud puddle, push into the floor and tense your legs!” And “pretend you’re lying in a field and an elephant is headed towards you! Tense your stomach up in case the elephant steps on your belly!”
3. SENSORY GROUNDING
This uses your five senses to bring you back to the present moment. Have your child practice naming five things they can see, four things they can touch, three things they can hear, two things they can smell, and one thing they can taste. They can practice doing this out loud at first and then have them transition to doing this in their head. Kids may stress about remembering the sequence, so just having them name one for each sense can be helpful! Some helpful prompts for smell may be to have them smell the detergent on their shirt or a number 2 pencil.
Grounding techniques are useful for adults and kiddos! I recommend practicing these with your little ones once a week. It’s important to practice these when everyone is feeling calm as well. If one or all of these don’t resonate with your child, that’s okay! There are millions of grounding techniques on the internet and we are all unique in how we prefer to destress. The last thing we want to do is increase anxiety in our children just because they don’t connect with an anxiety-reducing exercise! Give these a try at home and keep these in your back pocket for the next time you or your child are feeling stressed out!