By Sophia Cleverly of Relax Kids South Oxfordshire, teacher of relaxation and mindfulness
It's that time of year. School changes looming, SATS, GCSEs, A-levels, 11+ - even phonics screenings in year1... As these events loom your children will start to feel some pressure. This will vary from child to child but it will be there.
Of course students are working really hard and are being given great tips in schools and from parents about preparation, good healthy habits like sleeping well, eating well and drinking water, time management and revision.
Alongside, relaxation and mindfulness techniques can give your children the tools they need to self manage so that they do not become overwhelmed by worry or stress, even anxiety - and face these challenges with a positive attitude.
RELAX KIDS top 3 tips for mindful exams and big school transitions.
1. BREATHE: Find a quiet place where you feel safe and relaxed and where you are unlikely to be interrupted for 5 minutes. Put your hand on your heart and just feel your heart beat for a little while. Then, become aware of your breath just coming in and out, in and out, in and out. Then imagine that your belly is a balloon and when you breathe in to it through your nose you are blowing it up and when you slowly breathe out through your mouth, it is deflating again. Try this three times and notice how you feel after. Practice morning, night and even on the loo - you will feel calmer after and this tool is yours forever!
If your child is very young you can place a teddy on their tummy and practice this before bed. Older children can just put their hands on their tummies and feel them going up and down with their breath. This will still their minds and slow down their breathing, helping them to relax and then focus.
2. AFFIRMATIONS: How do you feel about yourself? if you notice the chatter in your brain, it may not be 100% positive when faced with a big challenge and this can take its toll. You can really improve your performance and confidence by talking nicely to yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror and say something nice to yourself - you could try "I am calm, I am relaxed, I am confident!" or "I am peaceful, I am happy, I am clever"! "I am a star" or whatever helps - try it a few times. This won't come naturally to you, most probably, so you might want to try without the mirror first or without talking out loud. Your mind does not know the difference between something we say when we completely believe it and when we don't, if we say it with conviction - it is real! Repeat as often as you want and notice the difference in what happens.
For younger children, this can be the magic mirror game. You can start with doing your own affirmations and they will soon pick up and try it themselves.
3. VISUALISATIONS: You will need to use your imagination, lie down or sit up straight on the floor or a chair and visualise / imagine yourself on the big day. What do you look like, what do you feel like, how are you facing the challenge - with ease, with positivity, with a smile for example. Just imagine yourself feeling great and being prepared, confident and relaxed... and you will be that on the day!
Younger children: you can talk your child through this so that they know what will happen on the day - even plan what they will have for breakfast, where their shoes will be on the day.
And parents, don't forget, a big hug can really help boost oxytocin so plenty of hugs will help all round.
Relax Kids offer Star cards or affirmation cards to help, as well as cds and books.
For further tips as well as information on classes do visit
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