6 Tips For Reducing Your Child’s Stress and Anxiety

Is your child experiencing stress? Are they struggling to make it through to a successful end of the school year? Do you know a student who is going through a tough time preparing for their finals? Sadly, I see it every day in my classroom. This can leave parents feeling hopeless and helpless, as though there is absolutely nothing that you can do to make things easier and with the amount of pressure that students are under, it can be hard to give them the support that they need. With over 10% of school children experiencing symptoms of anxiety, it’s hard to know when to help and how. 

stress

Facing the Fears

When people are afraid of situations, there is a high chance that they will want to do everything they can to avoid it. Instead of encouraging your child to avoid stressful situations, you should encourage them to face them head-on. The anxiety will reduce naturally over time, not to mention that it will show them that it is possible for them to deal with the stress they are feeling. The body can’t be anxious for long, it’s just not possible. There is a biological system in place that helps to calm the body down, so you have to trust that this concept applies to your child as well. The stress that they are under may feel unbearable, but know that they can get through it and tell them that they can as well. Taking them out of school or letting them take days off will only make things worse, as it reinforces the thought of them not being able to get through the situation.

Nobody is Perfect

Children often think that they have to be perfect to succeed, whether it is in sports or even in their academic performance. Sometimes parents may forget that kids just need to be kids. School is often far too grade driven. If students don’t achieve A+ grades then they may feel like a complete failure, so it’s important for parents to encourage them during this time and to tell them that nobody is perfect. Some parents feel the need to put even more pressure on their children when finals come along because they want them to do well; the truth is that this can make things even worse and their performance may even suffer as a result. Sometimes it helps for parents to take a back seat and encourage them to relax from time to time. They won’t get a perfect grade every time, and you need to know this as well as them.

Be Positive

Children who experience stress will probably go through a lot of negative thoughts. They may also experience self-criticism. It’s a good idea for parents to try and reinforce the positive aspects of any situation as well. This will remind them to focus on the positives and it will also help to pull them through this difficult and stress-filled time. Try and be upbeat, encourage them and tell them that you believe in them. If they come back with a bad result, let them know that it is okay and work with them to try and move past it. I like to think of it as being a soft place for them to land.

stress

Find a Way To Relax

Kids need to relax and just be kids from time to time. Fun activities such as sports can quickly become about success instead of being about having fun. This is especially around finals, because your child may feel pressure in every aspect of their life. When your kids are out playing sports or when they are doing something that could be seen as being competitive, make sure that they are doing it to have fun and to just unwind. You could encourage them to take a walk with a friend, find a quiet place to relax and read, or even go on an adventure with the FFXV strategy game –  taking a pause by engaging in little things like this can really go a long way when it comes to their stress levels, and it gives them the time that they need to take a break from the challenge of always trying to be successful.

Sleep!

If your child is not getting enough sleep or if they are finding it hard to relax at the end of the night then try and work with them to make sure that they are not having too much caffeine before bed. A lot of kids consume energy drinks and coffee to try and stay awake. This could be so that they can study longer or it can also be because they just don’t want to sleep. After all, when we go to sleep, we wake up and it is the day of the exam they are worrying about. If your child is not sleeping properly, support them with a routine. Encourage them to read a book before bed, consider essential oils and even have a family movie night. When you’re running low on sleep, your emotions can quickly get out of control and they can also make things seem worse than they actually are, so it really is crucial. Many of my students sleep only 6-7 hours each night!

stress

Knowing When to Stop

We want to teach our children to soar – but your child may feel under constant pressure to succeed and study and at times, you may think that they are studying a bit too much. This is more than possible and it may even cause them to experience even more anxiety because of the pressure they are piling on themselves and the constant thought of having to learn. It’s important that parents recognize when your child is studying too much and stop them if they are focusing too much. Studying too much is as bad as not studying enough because the brain eventually gets to the point where it cannot absorb any more information and this will only lead to more frustration. Tell your child that they have done enough and no matter what happens, you will be there to support them in every possible situation. Teaching kids healthy boundaries is key to learning to be successful adults.

stress

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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What Are Your Early Morning Rituals? How To Wake Up Right And Make A Difference

What Are Your Early Morning Rituals? How To Wake Up Right

I’m not much interested in New Year’s Resolutions – I’ve written before about my preference for following a mantra for the year and seeing how it unfolds rather than creating some arbitrary list of actions that, if I don’t complete, will make me feel worse than I did when I started. One new year ritual I do follow, however, is starting a morning book as one of my early morning rituals. This year I chose Jennifer Louden’s A Year of Daily Joy: A Guided Journal to Creating Happiness Every Day. It’s a book I’ve used before but never quite finished, but since our Universe somehow keeps on spinning, I’m able to start again. Fresh. So on January 7, when the prompt was to think and write about my early morning rituals I felt inspired – actually, I felt like I was going in the right direction, since before I turned to the page, I had already been  musing about how I love what I do in the early morning that helps me wake up right and have a happy day.

My early morning rituals include…

  • Going to bed early. Yes, starting the day off right means getting to bed early the night before. Years ago when the kids were little I’d fall asleep next to them, so exhausted from days of mothering and teaching I couldn’t wait to snuggle up with my head on a soft pillow, knowing that sleep would be interrupted but oh, so heavenly while it lasted. Now, with young adults living at home and out of state, I could stay awake as late as their body clocks want them to, but I’ve found that falling asleep by 9:30 p.m. (and setting an alarm for their curfew as needed) affords me at least 7-8 hours of good quality sleep. Oh – and no screen time after 9 helps immensely, too!
  • Waking up to an open window and natural sunlight. During the work week, I wake up at 5:30 a.m. Yes – it’s dark, but having my bedroom window cracked just a little bit not only keeps me cool all night but also allows nature sounds to be my wake up call. Just this morning I was greeted by a lovely owl announcing itself, and doves cooing on my back fence while finches chattered on the bare tree branches. Getting up early to see the dawn break over the treetops while listening to my live nature soundtrack reminds me of my small place in this great big world, and is one of my favorite early morning rituals – even in the cold California winter months!
  • Candlelight. I love lighting one, two, or sometimes three candles when I wake up. Easing myself into the light of day with natural sunlight and the flicker of meditative candlelight allows my mind to rest, to contemplate and prepare for the busy day ahead.Coffee. I had to add this one – for me, having moments alone with my first sips of a warm coffee with cream in my favorite mug is such a simple pleasure; I feel so strongly about my early morning ritual of calm and coffee that I travel with my own portable french press and favorite beans – there’s always hot water in hotel rooms, and it’s so much better to honor my need for caffeine than put up with a poor substitute.
  • Calm.com. Have you heard of the website calm.com? It’s full of beautiful, meditative music and visuals that I not only use in my early morning rituals, but my middle school students love it as well! You can use the app or desktop version, and I love being able to set a meditation timer or just let the music play softly in the background as I go about my rituals.
  • Writing and gratitudes. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have some sort of journal…I’ve handwritten decades of my life in spiral notebooks and cloth bound  books, telling stories and sharing memories, documenting quotes, writing to do lists and always starting with gratitudes. I try to write at least five gratitudes every morning – some days, yes, it is challenging to not fall back on those deep core values, but on those days when I am digging deep and reminded of the power of love, home, kindness, and nature, I know I have at least started my day remembering that some things never change. Lately, I’ve been adding a focus for the day – at least one daily goal that I can achieve.

early morning rituals

As the season change and my life evolves, my early morning rituals adjust with the times. No longer do I find myself nursing a baby while balancing a steaming mug, or being jolted awake and rushing to a ski hill. This time of life is evolving towards more time for self-care, allowing for more choice and control over how I start my day. Surprisingly, my core early morning rituals still hold up…calm, quiet, nature, soft light, coffee and gratitudes are what start each day off right for me. Bringing positive early morning rituals into your day is one way I know for sure to go out into the world ready to make a difference.

What are your early morning rituals? Do you find they change and evolve, or are you, like me, holding onto what is tried and true?

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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best education computers

Want Your Child To Get The Best Education? Here’s How

One thing parents have in common is that they want the best for their kids. As a parent, it is almost impossible not to give into the urge to put them first. You want them to succeed, and you will do whatever it takes to make it happen. Well, what it takes is a top education. Studies show people with a high level of education make it to the top of the pile, while the less educated flounder. So, it is time to ensure your children are getting the best education possible, and here’s how you and your kids reach that target. Do you want your child to get the best education? Here’s some ideas:

best education baby sleep

Image source

Make Sure They Sleep

Kids don’t have any energy or focus without the right amount of sleep. All they do have the energy for is watching the clock, waiting for the final bell. Obviously, this hinders their education as they might spend more time looking at the walls than at a textbook. To combat this, they need to be fresh and ready to go when they wake up in the morning. Sure, they won’t look their attentive best at half 6, but they will soon get into the day. By the time they sit down in their first lesson, their mind will be like a sponge.

Don’t Leave Work At School

Going to school is just the foundation for their education – the cherry on top of the cake is the work they do at home. Not only is it an excellent way to consume more information, but it’s also a good way to comprehend the material. As a parent, you know that teachers and educators have a lot on their plate. In fact, some of them have a busier schedule than the President, which means they don’t have time to teach one on one. You, on the other hand, have plenty of time when you are at home to talk through the process and explain the material. If they can’t get the quality of teaching at school, then give it to them at home.

best education school

Image source

Shoot For The Stars

The work they put in at school dictates where they will go to college. If you want them to go to a college with esteem, you need to start prepping for it early because Harvard has minimal places. Not only is there a lot of competition, but there is a way to handle the process. The Ivy League schools have a formula, and kids need to know it before they commit. Thankfully, there are Ivy League admissions consulting lessons for those of you that don’t know the method or how to pass the info along. Let the experts take of the issues that you can’t, and your kids will have a better chance of being accepted.

Start Saving

You don’t need telling, but it is worth a reminder. Further education in the US is expensive, especially at places like Yale and Stanford. If they are going to have any chance of getting the best education, you are going to have to find the cash. A little tip is to save now so that you have the majority of the money in place before they’re eighteen.

An education is important, but a top education opens doors.

 

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Damn You, Daylight Saving Time

It’s been over two weeks, and insomnia has taken over my life. My husband and son laugh at this time each year when I can hardly keep my eyes open at dusk, and my body turns me into a cranky, yawning sleep-deprived mess.

Damn you, Daylight Saving Time.

It’s not that I don’t WANT to sleep – I’d like nothing more than to drift off at a normal hour (say, 10:00 p.m.), snuggled up under my soft down comforter for eight hours of uninterrupted bliss. I’d love that, honestly. Imagine, eight hours of sleep would find me wide awake at a decent hour – 6 a.m. – plenty of time to write, savor some strong coffee and center myself with vanilla scented candles flickering in the pre-dawn light.

Oh, the joy and rapture.

Roasted coffee beans
Roasted coffee beans

And don’t tell me to cut down on caffeine, or keep the room cool, or turn off electronics well before bedtime. I’m doing that! My afternoon coffee has disappeared, only occasionally to be replaced by some nice Bengal Spice tea. I’ve tried a nice PInot, a shot of Fireball, and cutting back on sugar. I’ve got the windows cracked and the laptop closed long before I turn out the light – or rather, my husband clicks off the light and removes my latest read from my fingers, slipping off my glasses as he says goodnight. At 8:00 p.m.

What is happening to me? Am I becoming my mother?

Do you know how quiet it is at 4:00 a.m.? I do. It’s dark, and I hear every squeak and moan of my 60-year-old house. I hear the spirits as they come to the door, the thoughts that tumble around my brain as the wake me far before they should. I’ll get my eight hours, for sure, but this is ridiculous. I know you’ve been wondering why my tweets and texts come at such incredible hours – and no, I’m not reliving my college all-nighters, I’m simply suffering from middle-age adjustment issues.

Do I hear any ‘ayes’ in agreement out there?

sunrise
sunrise over the Salt Flats

There must be some sort of infomercial, some ‘As Seen On TV’ product that will solve my issues. I just want to stay awake like a normal person, watch a little prime-time TV maybe, and wake up AT dawn, not before. I don’t need to hear the early morning garbage pick up, or turn off the delay on the coffee pot to make the dark roast happen right now. I stubbornly set my alarm for 6 every night, hoping against hope that the quiet tunes of ‘Radiate’ will ease me into wakefulness. And every morning it’s the same old, same old – by the time my alarm is off, I’ve read my Facebook feeds, tweeted and texted and updated myself on all the news that I missed overnight.

It’s a vicious cycle, I tell you. But I have hope. I’ve got a good four months to get back on track before, well, you know. Please tell me I’m not the only one. Reassure me that I’m not just hitting that annoying part of middle age. I simply want to sleep.

Damn you, Daylight Saving Time.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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My Children, My Ordinary Heroes

“There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He’s ordinary”

Foo Fighters

Ten fingers. Ten toes. Arms, legs, torso, beating heart, and a little bit of hair. I could let out a sigh of relief.

Both my babies came into the world perfectly formed, fast and furious-especially the first one. At that point, I thought the worst was over. They were alive, named, and we were ready to start the rest of our lives as parents.  No expectations, right? All we wanted was for them to be born healthy. We knew we had a lot to learn, and as I’ve written before, were fully aware that no parenting handbook would provide all the answers to our questions.

"Parenting"
“Parenting” (Photo credit: vanhookc)

So we set off on parenting in the trial and error method.  Baby screams, we hold her. Feed her. Change her.  And if that doesn’t work…we had no clue. Repeat. We fell into parenting with a natural awkwardness that somehow worked out; both our kids survived infancy, and so did we. Barely.

As our babies became full of personality, we couldn’t help wonder what they would turn out like. Would they be readers and writers like their mom? Share their father’s passion for music and travel? Would they be athletic, funny, scholars, introverts…the ‘what ifs’ of uncertainty certainly provided fodder for our dreams about the future. We cautiously introduced a myriad of activities and experiences to see which they would gravitate towards. We enrolled them in a bilingual school without ever considering that they might not have chosen it for themselves. Our good intentions propel us towards what we consider the right decisions, but sometimes I wonder if we’re creating the path we want our child to walk, rather than watching them choose their own direction. And what if they turn out…ordinary?

Parent’s dreams for their children can create awfully big shoes for them to fill. Our undying love for our kids can teeter precariously on the edge between what we think they should be or do or feel, and what they dream for themselves.  As parents, I think we must strike a balance and show our children that whatever they do, and whoever they become, whether they end up just like us or follow their own path, that they are everything we could possibly wish them to be. Just like when they were born-alive, healthy, with the world before them.

I think the Foo Fighters said it best-my children are my heroes every day.

This post was inspired by Raising Cubby: A Father and Son’s Adventures with Asperger’s, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives by John Elder Robison. Parenting is a challenging job, but what challenges does a parent with Asperger’s face? Join From Left to Write on March 12 as we discuss Raising Cubby. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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