The school year is well underway. Homework assignments, studying for tests, and completing long-term projects are becoming more of the norm, and this is where parents might begin to see "the unraveling" in their child occur. Why? Stress and frustration with u school, about school, and at school is inevitable.
In the context of school-aged children, “unraveling” refers to when a child feels an enormous sense of overwhelm due to school assignments. The child then responds in a way that raises the parent's concern, mainly because the child often seems to be "falling apart" in some way or another. Every child “falls part” in his or her own way, but it is usually observed as: resistance to doing homework, back-and-forth arguments with parents about their work output, emotional meltdowns, quiet tears, annoyed facial expressions, and/or I-really-hate-you body language. Bearing witness to a child unraveling is stressful in of itself, but the good news is, it can be dealt with and reversed. Ideally, the sooner it is addressed and an action plan is established with check-in points, the better.
The goal is not to protect our children from stress entirely, but to face it in a healthy way. Counteracting stress is done by activating a positive mindset, which then leads to confidence and resilience. Stress reduction strategies feel very unnatural and they are certainly not taught and mastered overnight, but the likelihood for them to work is high on several conditions.
As long as the recommendations below are practiced everyday, several times a day, with no deadline, your child will gain enough practice and experience to develop a positive mindset. Experience creates confidence, which creates a positive mindset. Building this is constant hard work, but for long-lasting ongoing results, it is necessary.
Just to review: In my September 2019 blog article, my top four non-negotiable habits to increase a child’s happiness included:
1. Scheduled Homework Time in a Designated Study Space
2. Daily Movement
3. Nutritious Meals and Snacks
4. Enough Sleep
The success of one habit is dependent on the success of another, so it is vital that they are all emphasized simultaneously.
The fifth recommended habit targets building a child’s growth mindset, confidence, and resilience:
5. Setting and saying daily positive affirmations.
Affirmations are positive statements that shift a negative mindset into a positive one. They are statements that empower all individuals with the end goal of elevating their current mindset. They are meant to be said quietly or aloud as often as possible during a 24-hour day. Why do them so often? Research has shown that the majority of people experience MANY more negative thoughts than positive ones throughout the day.
“By changing the words we tell ourselves, we can calm the negative chatter and, in turn, we talk to ourselves in a more positive way. Rather than bring us down, affirmations are the practice of lifting us up” (How To Change Your Child's Mindset in Just a Few Minutes a Day by Liz Hall - https://selfsufficientkids.com/affirmations-for-kids/)
To get started, it is important for parents to initiate a conversation with their child about beginning this new habit. Kids learn by example, so the more that the parents model and practice alongside their child, the better. Each child has different needs, so the 3-4 affirmations you select should really target their top 3-4 stressors. For example, is your child stressed about reading in front of peers in class? Completing homework? Doing chores? Going to school in general? Think about what is impacting your child the most and select affirmations as the starting-point-solution to facing their challenges.
Some Affirmations to Try with Your Child:
“I can do this.” “I am strong.” “I am capable.” “I am confident.
“I am creative.” “I am brave.” “I am an awesome person.” “I am loving and loveable.”
“I am a good listener.” “I am a problem solver.” “I can do hard things.”
“I can get things done, even when my brain said it doesn’t want to.”
Some ideas to use at home:
Write them out on notecards, place in a jar, and get in the habit of selecting 1, 2, or 3 per day.
Use colored pencils to create Affirmation Posters and tape to bathroom mirror, fridge, and/or other central areas of the house for you and your child to stop and read aloud.
The key to making affirmations work in your home is overexposure. The child must see and hear them as often as possible in order to begin reversing the negative chatter that has been rampantly running through their mind. Academic success can co-exist with happiness as long as a handful of habits begin TODAY and are carried out EVERYDAY thereafter. Those top 5 habits will help reduce their frustration and allow your child to maximize their school day, as well as their time at home. By consistently guiding them as their parents, frustrations will slowly begin to turn around. It is very important not to put an expectation for your child to master these habits. They will take much time to build, so patience is key.
October 2019 Book Recommendation for Parents: It’s OK to Talk to Strangers by Ryan Palianto
Click on book to learn more!
October 2019 Website Recommendation: https://biglifejournal.com/blogs/blog