Movement Breaks in the Classroom

yoga201

Movement breaks are brief intervals that enable all students to move their bodies and help teachers to engage learners in physical ways. Chants, poems, even Morning Meeting greetings, and activities can be used as movement breaks throughout the day.

4438026

Activities

  1. 5-4-3-2-1 In this simple game, students stand up and the teacher (or leader) has them do five different movements in descending order. For example the teacher would say: “Do five jumping jacks, spin around four times, hop on one foot three times, walk all the way around the classroom two times, give your neighbor one high-five (pausing in between each task for students to do it).
  2. Trading Places Have students stand behind their pushed-in chairs. Call out a trait, and everyone who has that trait must change places with someone else (students who do not have the trait stay where they are). Examples: “Everyone with curly hair.” “Everyone who ate cereal for breakfast.” “Everyone who is wearing stripes.”
  3. Six Spots Number six spots around your room from 1-6. Have students each go to a spot of their choice. Choose a student to roll a die (if you can make a big one out of foam, it adds to the fun). All the students at the number rolled must go back to their seats. Students that are left go to a new spot, and the die is rolled again. Continue until only a few students are left.
  4. Mingle, Mingle, Group! In this game students mill about the classroom saying, “mingle, mingle, mingle” in soft voices until the teacher says, “Groups of 5,” at which point the students must quickly group themselves into groups with the correct number of people. Students who are left over must do three jumping jacks before the next round starts. The teacher can call out any number for the group size. You can also add rules such as: as soon as a group is complete, all members must sit down in a line.
  5. Dance Party! Put on some rockin’ music and dance! If you can make the room semi-dark and have a black light or other special effect, your kids will love it!
  6. Freeze Dance! Similar to Dance Party, except that every so often the music stops, and students must freeze and hold the position they are in until the music begins again.
  7. Name Moves Students stand behind their chairs. In turn, each student says his or her name accompanied by a special movement. For example a student might say, “Kayla!” while dramatically dropping to one knee and doing Jazz Hands. After the student does his or her move, the rest of the class says the student’s name in unison and imitates the move. Then it is the next student’s turn.
  8. Keep It Up Students must keep a beach ball from hitting the ground. Add two or three balls to make it even more fun.
  9. Simon Says An oldie but a goody!
  10. Movement Songs Sing a song with whole-body movements, such as, “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” “Father Abraham,” “Toe-Knee Chest-Nut,” “Shake Your Sillies Out (Raffie),” “Grand Old Duke of York,” “My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean,” etc.
  11. Recorded Movement Songs Older students might enjoy a simple Zumba routine, YMCA, or the Macarena. Littler ones will love Sesame Street’s A Very Simple Dance to Do.
  12. Animal Pretend Younger children will enjoy pretending to be various animals (or even objects such as lawn mowers or airplanes). Call out a few in sequence.
  13. Would You Rather Ask a “would you rather” question and have students show their choice by moving to one end of the room or the other. Have a few kids share why. Here are 20 free “Would You Rather” Questions to get you started.
  14. Find It Fast Call out a color or other trait (e.g. something round, something made of wood), and students must find an object in the room that fits the trait and get to it quickly.
  15. Physical Challenges Challenge students to do something physically difficult, such as standing on one foot with arms extended, or this one: Grab your nose with left hand, and grab your left earlobe with your right hand, and then quickly switch so that your right hand is on your nose and your left hand is grabbing your right earlobe. Yoga poses could also be a good variation.
  16. Plates Give each student a paper plate. Students must walk around the room balancing the plates on their heads. If a student drops his or her plate, the student must freeze until another student picks it up and places it back on the student’s head (while keeping his or her own plate in place, of course).
  17. Line Up! Have students line up using a specific criteria, such as age (use day and month, not just year), height, alphabetically by middle name, hair length, etc.
  18. Limbo All you need is a long stick and a pair of kids to hold it. Music is nice, too.
  19. Human Knot Divide students into groups of about eight students. Have students each grab right hands with someone who is not directly next to them. Then do the same with left hands. The challenge is to untangle and become a circle without releasing hands.
  20. Jump Skip Counting Have students count by twos, fives, tens etc. while jumping with each count. You could also practice spelling words this way.

Source

Videos from GoNoodle are great!

GoNoodle videos get kids moving to be their strongest, bravest, silliest, smartest, bestest selves. Over 14 million kids each month are dancing, stretching, running, jumping, deep breathing, and wiggling with GoNoodle.

For Teachers: 3 out of 4 elementary schools in the US use GoNoodle to: – Give students the brain breaks they need – Host indoor recess – Make subject transitions seamless – Energize or calm their class

Create a free account on GoNoodle.com now and find hundreds of ways to move! — https://goo.gl/fA6qK3

Videos from Stand Up Kids

BURPEE

HOLLOW ROCK

PUSH UP

LEARN TO SQUAT

FULL SQUAT

SQUAT DRILL

MAKE IT RAIN

CROCODILES & CRABS

SHAKE THE WIGGLES OUT

FAST FEET & HIGH JUMPS

BLOCKED SQUAT & GRASSHOPPERS

ONE LEGGED HOPS & PLANKS

AIR SQUAT & RUN IN PLACE

Pogo Jumps & Lunges

Pushups & Spins

Blocked Squats & Backpack Chair Deadlifts

Floppies & Planks

Push Press & Tuck Jumps

Articles

Teaching with the Brain in Mind, 2nd Edition by Eric Jensen  Chapter 4. Movement and Learning

Research-Tested Benefits of Breaks Students are easily distracted, but regular, short breaks can help them focus, increase their productivity, and reduce their stress

The Cognitive Benefits of Physical Activity in the Classroom

Movement Breaks to the Rescue!

Classroom-Based Movement Breaks

Sensory and Movement Break Ideas | Getting Classrooms Moving!

Teacher Toolbox Physical Activity Breaks in the Secondary Classroom

Middle School Activity Breaks

Movement Breaks OT Tips

ocean-movement-flash-cards

Tips

  • Keep physical activity breaks short and manageable. Shoot for 1 – 5 minute breaks at least 2-3 times per day.
  • Participate with your students in the activity. Students will be more likely to join in and have fun if they see their school community moving with them.
  • Ask teachers and school administrators to share and demonstrate their favorite activities, games, and movement ideas during staff meetings throughout the school year.
  • Create a classroom atmosphere that embraces movement! Consider playing age and culturally appropriate music. Be patient – it may take some time for kids to embrace and be comfortable with the physical activity.
  • Integrate physical activity into academic concepts when possible. For example, a social studies unit on the Olympics can include student participation in classroom energizers fitting into an Olympic theme.
  • Encourage your physical education teacher to be a movement leader and advocate. Ask if he or she can share some simple motor skills and games for classroom teachers and guidance for creating safe movement spaces.
  • Empower students by asking them to share their own physical activity break ideas. Provide opportunities for students to lead and demonstrate activities.
  • Add physical activity breaks right into your daily schedule. Try creating a classroom physical activity calendar of events that includes a variety of ideas throughout the month. Use a classroom physical activity tracker to help your students reach 10 minutes daily! Check out these brain break for testing ideas.
  • Add in fun equipment items such as beanbags, spot markers, yoga mats, and balance boards. Consider applying for a Game On grant!
  • Integrate health and fitness concepts while moving with students to emphasize the importance of daily physical activity and good nutrition.

Source

Books

 Energizers! 88 Quick Movement Activities That Refresh and Refocus– Susan Roser

Action-Packed Classrooms, K-5: Using Movement to Educate and Invigorate Learners (2009)

  • by Cathie Summerford (Link)
  • “Focusing on using movement and music to energize young students and boost their learning, this research-based book offers strategies for basic energizers, clear objectives for standards-aligned instruction, and a student/teacher/principal agreement to commit to active learning.” – Amazon

Brain Breaks for the Classroom: Quick and Easy Breathing and Movement Activities That Help Students Reenergize, Refocus, and Boost Brain Power-Anytime of the Day! (2009)

  • by Michelle Gay (Link)
  • “40 fun exercises help students take a quick break and return to their work refreshed and ready to learn. Each exercise is designed to get more oxygen and energy to students’ brains, improve their focus, and calm their nervous systems. The result: increased motivation, cooperation, and learning in the classroom. Includes a full-color poster with five easy moves all kids can do when they need a ‘brain break’! For use with Grades K–5.” – Amazon

Brain Gym: Teacher’s Edition (2010)

  • by Paul E. Dennison and Gail E. Dennison (Link)
  • “This is a stand-alone book for parents, teachers and learners who want in-depth descriptions and variations for the 26 Brain Gym activities.” – Amazon

Energizing Brain Breaks (2009)

  • by David U. Sladkey (Link)

Energizing Brain Breaks 2 (2011)

The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning Through Movement (2010)

  • by Traci Lengel and Mike Kuczala (Link)
  • “Research shows that regular physical activity helps children perform better in school. This inspiring book illustrates how to integrate movement within classroom instruction, ranging from short activity breaks to curriculum-enhancing games.” – Amazon

Learning on Your Feet: Incorporating Physical Activity into the K-8 Classroom (2016)

  • by Brad Johnson and Melody Jones (Link)
  • “In this much-needed book, you’ll learn how incorporating physical activity into the classroom can improve students’ engagement, achievement, and overall wellness. Students typically spend most of the day sitting at their desks, and many don’t have recess or PE, yet research shows that regular exercise helps stimulate brain function and improve skills such as reading, critical thinking, organization, and focus.” – Amazon

Moving INTO the Classroom (2018)

  • Stacia Miller and Suzanne Lindt, Eds (Link)
  • This textbook focuses on research in movement integration and the benefits of physical activity to the child’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development. It includes research on and suggestions for integrating movement into English-language arts, mathematics, science and social studies for lower and upper elementary students. Though the textbook is specifically aimed at elementary-level teachers, secondary teachers and pre-service teachers can modify the activities to fit their lessons as well. – Springer
Perceptual-Motor Activities for Children with Web Resource: An Evidence-Based Guide to Building Physical and Cognitive Skills (2011)
  • by Jill Johnstone and Molly Ramon (Link)
  • “…blueprint for improving perceptual-motor skills—the skills that require young learners to use their brains and their bodies together to accomplish tasks. When kids improve these skills, they not only improve their coordination and increase their body awareness but they also enhance their intellectual skills and gain a more positive self-image.” – Human Kinetics

Physical Activity and Educational Achievement: Insights from Exercise Neuroscience (2018)

  • edited by Romain Meeusen, Sabine Schaefer, Phillip Tomporowski, and Richard Bailey (Link)
  • “A growing body of research evidence suggests that physical activity can have a positive effect on educational achievement. This book examines a range of processes associated with physical activity that are of relevance to those working in education – including cognition, learning, memory, attention, mood, stress and mental health symptoms – and draws on the latest insights from exercise neuroscience to help explain the evidence.” – Amazon

Physical Activity and Health Promotion in the Early Years (2018)

  • edited by Hannah Brewer and Mary Renck Jalongo (Link)
  • “This book…provides a theoretical base explaining why physical activity is important, and offers practical strategies for increasing health and well-being in early childhood settings. It takes ancient wisdom on the mind and body connection, applies it to the youngest children, and supports it with current empirical and international evidence—all with an eye toward improving wellness across the lifespan. The many topics discussed in the book include children’s motor skills, movement, interaction, physical literacy, the use of video games, dog ownership, developmental delays, as well as strategies to improve physical activities in the classroom and broader contexts.”

Spark: the Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (2008)

  • by John J. Ratey (Link)
  • “Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? The evidence is incontrovertible: aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance.” – Amazon

Teaching with the Brain in Mind (2005)  – chap. 9: Movement and Learning

  • by Eric Jensen (Link)
  • “…[this] best-seller is loaded with ideas for how to improve student achievement and create a more effective classroom by applying brain research to your teaching. [It] translates the latest scientific findings into effective instructional strategies…” – Amazon

The Third Teacher: 79 Ways You Can Use Design to Transform Teaching and Learning (2010)

  • by OWP/P Architects, VS Furniture, & Bruce Mau Design (Link)
  • “Created by an international team of architects and designers concerned about our failing education system, [this book] explores the critical link between the school environment and how children learn…” – Amazon

healthyhabits

 

How to talk to kids about school violence

02-15_shooting_org_t715

The day after the mass shooting occurred in Florida many kids were talking about the massacre. They were asking a variety of questions like, “Will that happen to us at our school?” or simply “Am I safe at school?”  As educators, parents, and community members we have an obligation to know what to say to our kids. This post will review what the National Association of School Psychologist (NASP) recommends.

Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers

High profile acts of violence, particularly in schools, can confuse and frighten children who may feel in danger or worry that their friends or loved-ones are at risk. They will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react. Parents and school personnel can help children feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security and talking with them about their fears.

  1. Reassure children that they are safe. Emphasize that schools are very safe. Validate their feelings. Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy occurs. Let children talk about their feelings, help put them into perspective, and assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately.
  2. Make time to talk. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to provide. Be patient; children and youth do not always talk about their feelings readily. Watch for clues that they may want to talk, such as hovering around while you do the dishes or yard work. Some children prefer writing, playing music, or doing an art project as an outlet. Young children may need concrete activities (such as drawing, looking at picture books, or imaginative play) to help them identify and express their feelings.
  3. Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate.Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them. Give simple examples of school safety like reminding children about exterior doors being locked, child monitoring efforts on the playground, and emergency drills practiced during the school day.
    • Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools.
    • Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. Emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines (e.g. not providing building access to strangers, reporting strangers on campus, reporting threats to the school safety made by students or community members, etc.), communicating any personal safety concerns to school administrators, and accessing support for emotional needs.
  4. Review safety procedures. This should include procedures and safeguards at school and at home. Help children identify at least one adult at school and in the community to whom they go if they feel threatened or at risk.
  5. Observe children’s emotional state. Some children may not express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can also indicate a child’s level of anxiety or discomfort. In most children, these symptoms will ease with reassurance and time. However, some children may be at risk for more intense reactions. Children who have had a past traumatic experience or personal loss, suffer from depression or other mental illness, or with special needs may be at greater risk for severe reactions than others. Seek the help of mental health professional if you are at all concerned.
  6. Limit television viewing of these events. Limit television viewing and be aware if the television is on in common areas. Developmentally inappropriate information can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young children. Adults also need to be mindful of the content of conversations that they have with each other in front of children, even teenagers, and limit their exposure to vengeful, hateful, and angry comments that might be misunderstood.
  7. Maintain a normal routine. Keeping to a regular schedule can be reassuring and promote physical health. Ensure that children get plenty of sleep, regular meals, and exercise. Encourage them to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities but don’t push them if they seem overwhelmed.

Suggested Points to Emphasize When Talking to Children

    • Schools are safe places. School staff works with parents and public safety providers (local police and fire departments, emergency responders, hospitals, etc.) to keep you safe.

The school building is safe because … (cite specific school procedures).

  • We all play a role in the school safety. Be observant and let an adult know if you see or hear something that makes you feel uncomfortable, nervous or frightened.
  • There is a difference between reporting, tattling or gossiping. You can provide important information that may prevent harm either directly or anonymously by telling a trusted adult what you know or hear.
  • Although there is no absolute guarantee that something bad will never happen, it is important to understand the difference between the possibility of something happening and probability that it will affect you (our school community).
  • Senseless violence is hard for everyone to understand. Doing things that you enjoy, sticking to your normal routine, and being with friends and family help make us feel better and keep us from worrying about the event.
  • Sometimes people do bad things that hurt others. They may be unable to handle their anger, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or suffering from mental illness. Adults (parents, teachers, police officers, doctors, faith leaders) work very hard to get those people help and keep them from hurting others. It is important for all of us to know how to get help if we feel really upset or angry and to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
  • Stay away from guns and other weapons. Tell an adult if you know someone has a gun. Access to guns is one of the leading risk factors for deadly violence.
  • Violence is never a solution to personal problems. Students can be part of the positive solution by participating in anti-violence programs at school, learning conflict mediation skills, and seeking help from an adult if they or a peer is struggling with anger, depression, or other emotions they cannot control.

NASP has additional information for parents and educators on school safety, violence prevention, children’s trauma reactions, and crisis response at www.nasponline.org.

PDF

The handout, Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers is available in the following languages:

Source

Related Readings

Violence Prevention: A Mental Health Issue Tips for Parents and Educators (NASP)

15 Tips for Talking with Children About School Violence (Colorín Colorado)

School Violence Prevention-Brief Facts and Tips (NASP)

Framework for Safe and Successful Schools

PREPaRE Training Curriculum

NASP Resolution on Efforts to Prevent Gun Violence 

Death of a loved one can be difficult to navigate with your children.

nic3b1osylamuerte

Death is that inevitable phenomenon that no one really cares to talk about, especially with your children. As we go through life death often pops up when we least expect it. This post is dedicated to resources to support your efforts in guiding your child through the tough process of death of a loved one.

Thoughts

Parenting While Grieving

How to help a grieving child

Grief Tip Sheets

Talking to Kids About Death and Grief: 10 Comprehensive Tips

The Grief Coaster: Understanding stress in grief

Journaling

Grief Activity Books for Kids 3-9

Activities

Here are some things you can do to help you express your feelings.

Activity 1:  finish the sentences

Finish the following sentences.

The thing that makes me feel the saddest is …..

If I could talk to the person who died I would ask….

Since the death my family doesn’t….

My worst memory is….

If I could change things I would….

One thing that I liked to do with the person who died was…

When the person died I….

Since the death my friends….

After the death, school….

When I am alone….

Is there anyone you want to share this with?

Activity 2: drawing

Find a piece of paper and fold it in half. On one side, draw a picture of your family before the death. On the other side, draw a picture of your family after the death. You might want to share your picture with someone who would understand.

Source

Activities for Grieving Children

Sesame Street Materials-

  • Storybook (2.1mb PDF)
    Curl up with this printable book, starring your child’s favorite characters: Elmo and Jessie.
  • Caring Cards (631kb PDF)
    Have these cards on hand when you need a conversation starter, an activity idea, or just a little inspiration.
  • Memory Chain (709kb PDF)
    Connect all your favorite memories—our paper chain template shows you how.

Books

List of children’s books about death (PDF)

The Dougy Center Materials (Books and Pamphlets on Death, Dying, and Grief)

1. Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children (kids 5+)

2.The Invisible String (kids 3+)

3. Everett Anderson’s Goodbye (Reading Rainbow)  (kids 5-8)

4. The Tenth Good Thing About Barney (kids 6-9)

5. I’ll Always Love You (kids 3-7)

6. When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death (Dino Life Guides for Families) (kids 4-8)

7. I Miss You: A First Look at Death (First Look at Books) (kids 4+)

8. The Saddest Time (kids 6-9)

9. Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss  (kids 8+)tear soup

10. The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages (kids 4+)

11. Gentle Willow: A Story for Children About Dying (kids 4+)

12. Where Are You? A Child’s Book About Loss (kids 4-8)

13. Samantha Jane’s Missing Smile: A Story About Coping With the Loss of a Parent (kids 5+)

14. The Scar (kids5-9)

15. A Terrible Thing Happened (kids 4+)

16. The Elephant in the Room: A Childrens Book for Grief and Loss (kids 4+)

17. The Boy Who Didn’t Want to Be Sad (kids 4+)  elephant in the room

18. I Wish I Could Hold Your Hand…: A Child’s Guide to Grief and Loss (Little Imp Books) (kids 9+)

19. Water Bugs and Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Young Children (kids 4+)

20. When Your Grandparent Dies: A Child’s Guide to Good Grief (Elf-Help Books for Kids) (kids 5+)

21. Someone I Love Died (kids 4-8)

22. What Happened When Grandma Died? (kids 4+)

23. Always and Forever (kids 4+)

24. Badger’s Parting Gifts (kids 4-8)

25. Ghost Wings (kids 5+)

26. Finding Grandpa Everywhere: A Young Child Discovers Memories of a Grandparent (kids 7+)

27. The Grandpa Tree (kids 3+)nana upstairs

28. Sad Isn’t Bad: A Good-Grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing with Loss (Elf-Help Books for Kids) (kids 6+)

29. Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs (Picture Puffins) (kids 4-8)

30. Daddy, Up and Down: Sisters Grieve the Loss of Their Daddy (kids 4-8)

31. Saying Goodbye to Daddy (kids 4+)

32. The Angel with the Golden Glow: A Family’s Journey Through Loss and Healing (kids 4+)

33. Where’s Jess: For Children Who Have a Brother or Sister Die (kids 3-6)

34. A Taste of Blackberries (kids 8-12)

35. Bridge to Terabithia (kids 8-12)

36. My Grandson Lew (kids 4-6)

37. Aarvy Aardvark Finds Hope: A Read Aloud Story for People of All Ages About Loving and Losing, Friendship and Hope (as the title says, people of all ages!)

38. The Empty Place: A Child’s Guide Through Grief (Let’s Talk)(kids 5-10)

39. Dancing on the Moon (kids 3+)  sammy in the sky

40. Lost and Found: Remembering a Sister (kids 6+)

41. Stacy Had a Little Sister (A Concept Book) (kids 4+)

42. Ragtail Remembers: A Story That Helps Children Understand Feelings of Grief (kids 4+)

43. Goodbye Mousie (kids 4-8)

44. Remembering Crystal (kids 3+)

45. Rudi’s Pond (kids 5-8)

46. The Memory String (kids 4-8)

47. Sammy in the Sky (kids 4-8)

48. Where Do People Go When They Die? (kids 3-8)

49. Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories (kids 3-8)

50. Her Mother’s Face (kids 4-8)

51. Remembering Mama (kids 4+) her mother

52. Old Pig (Picture Puffin)(kids 3-8)

53. Pearl’s Marigolds for Grandpa (kids 3-7)

54. Saying Goodbye to Lulu(kids 3-6)

55. The Mountains of Tibet(kids 7+)

56. Rabbityness (kids 3-7)

57. I Wish I Could Hold Your Hand…: A Child’s Guide to Grief and Loss (Little Imp Books) (kids 9+)

58. Can You Hear Me Smiling?: A Child Grieves a Sister (kids 8+)

59. The Copper Tree (kids 5-8)

60. Everybody Feels Sad (kids 4+)

61. Grief is Like a Snowflake (kids 4+)

62. My Baby Big Sister: A Book for Children Born Subsequent to a Pregnancy Loss (kids 4-8)

63. Ladder to the Moon (kids 4-8)

64. Missing Mommy: A Book About Bereavement (kids 3-8).

Source

Camp

Grief Camp 

Camp Erin is the largest national bereavement program for youth grieving the death of a significant person in their lives.

Children and teens ages 6-17 attend a transformational weekend camp that combines traditional, fun camp activities with grief education and emotional support, free of charge for all families. Led by grief professionals and trained volunteers, Camp Erin provides a unique opportunity for youth to increase levels of hope, enhance self-esteem, and especially to learn that they are not alone.

Camp Erin is offered in every Major League Baseball city as well as additional locations across the U.S. and Canada. The Moyer Foundation partners with hospices and bereavement organizations to bring hope and healing to thousands of grieving children and teens each year

Organizations

National Alliance for Grieving Children (NAGC)

Family Lives On Foundation

School

When death impacts your school

Therapy Materials

Clinical Grief Activities for Working with Bereaved Children

Stress and the Holidays – How to Support Yourself and Your Kids.

Family reading together on sofa at Christmas time, viewed through window

APA suggests these tips to help parents effectively manage holiday stress

  • Strengthen social connections – We know that strong, supportive relationships help us manage all kinds of challenges. So, we can view the holidays as a time to reconnect with the positive people in our lives. Accepting help and support from those who care about us can help alleviate stress. Also, volunteering at a local charity on our own or with family can be another way to make connections; helping others often makes us feel better, too.
  • Initiate conversations about the season – It can be helpful to have conversations with our kids about the variety of different holiday traditions our families, friends and others may celebrate. Parents can use this time as an opportunity to discuss how some families may not participate in the same holiday traditions as others. Not everyone needs to be the same. It is important to teach open-mindedness about others and their celebrations.
  • Set expectations – It is helpful to set realistic expectations for gifts and holiday activities. Depending on a child’s age, we can use this opportunity to teach kids about the value of money and responsible spending. We need to remember to pare down our own expectations, too. Instead of trying to take on everything, we need to identify the most important holiday tasks and take small concrete steps to accomplish them.
  • Keep things in perspective – On the whole, the holiday season is short. It helps to maintain a broader context and a longer-term perspective. We can ask ourselves, what’s the worst thing that could happen this holiday? Our greatest fears may not happen and, if they do, we can tap our strengths and the help of others to manage them. There will be time after the holiday season to follow up or do more of things we’ve overlooked or did not have the time to do during the holidays.
  • Take care of yourself – It is important that we pay attention to our own needs and feelings during the holiday season. We can find fun, enjoyable and relaxing activities for ourselves and our families. By keeping our minds and bodies healthy, we are primed to deal with stressful situations when they arise. Consider cutting back television viewing for kids and getting the family out together for fresh air and a winter walk. Physical activity can help us feel better and sleep well, while reducing sedentary time and possible exposure to stress-inducing advertisements. Source

stress-reducing-recipe-for-the-holidays1

Reading

How to De-Stress Young Children During the Holidays

LESSENING HOLIDAY STRESS FOR LITTLE ONES

THE ABCS OF A MEANINGFUL & STRESS FREE CHRISTMAS WITH YOUNG CHILDREN- Tons of ideas if you need them.

Research on Holiday Stress -APA

Handling Holidays After Divorce

 

Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling )

371411910_ee7ae30319

Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh), also called hair-pulling disorder, is a mental disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body, despite trying to stop.

Hair pulling from the scalp often leaves patchy bald spots, which causes significant distress and can interfere with social or work functioning. People with trichotillomania may go to great lengths to disguise the loss of hair.

For some people, trichotillomania may be mild and generally manageable. For others, the compulsive urge to pull hair is overwhelming. Some treatment options have helped many people reduce their hair pulling or stop entirely. Source

 

Resources

Step by step guide for parents and teachers: Trichotillomania Basics

Q&A from the Berkeley Parents Network

About Trichotillomania or Hair Pulling Disorder- Easy read

Treatment Guidelines-Expert Consensus Treatment Guidelines Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors Hair Pulling, Skin Picking, and Related Disorders

Parent Support Resources from The TLC Foundation: For Parents

Teen Guide: What Is Trichotillomania?

School Based article: Trichotillomania: Dealing With Hair-Pulling Disorder

Article- Child Trichsters And School

50 Ways to Stop Pulling Your Hair

Comprehensive PPT

Taking Care of the Caretaker

you-are-important

A few months ago I wrote a post called, “Check your Stress!” While it had some good tools to identify whether or not you were stressed, getting to the mindset of self care is something I have observed many parents and teachers avoid even if they realize it is affecting their work and happiness. Here are a few resources out there.

Get informed

Seven Types of Self-Care Activities for Coping with Stress

Self Care Advice for Caring Professionals

The Internet Wants to Help You Take Care of Yourself Stop. Are you hungry? Then eat something before reading this.

Self-Care For Teachers by Anne Brunette, MSW, Family Therapist

How Self-Compassion Can Help Prevent Teacher Burnout

Stess Warning Signs and Symptoms

Write about it

Simple approach
Think about ways of behaving, feeling or thinking that you would like to: • stop • start • continue.
For example: I would like to stop feeling guilty that I am not doing more for my ill family member. I would like to start taking an afternoon time out just for myself, to go shopping or to do yoga or to visit with friends. I would like to continue going to a family self-help group such as the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario when this support group ends.
_________________________________________________________
Write down your wishes.
Stop: ____________________________________________________________
Start: ____________________________________________________________
Continue: ____________________________________________________________

Activity : Quick wins

Get Help

Get a Therapist.  In the US or Canada this link will find a therapist for you.

Some measures of Stress and Burn out

PROFESSIONAL QUALITY OF LIFE SCALE (PROQOL)

ARE YOU BURNING OUT?

Putting Things Into Perspective Where is your time going?

Tself-care assessment scale by Saakvitne and Pearlman from the Traumatic Stress Institute.

Ted Talk Videos

Self Care

Other Links

Self-Care for Teachers

The following resources can help you cope with some of the common sources of stress and burnout among educators and others in the helping professions.

Self-Care Review – Checklist

Student SELF-CARE Manual (Good tools)

Self-Care Domains In each domain, list the activities you are doing to take care of yourself.

My Self Care Plan

Workbook with Self Care tools

Self Care Strategies

daily-mood-tracker-knock

Separation Anxiety and School Refusal

getty_girl_mom_stress_sick_stomachache_large_kidstock

Recently, my little girl started in a home daycare. Initially, she struggled with separation anxiety.  She has since settled down (whew!). This post has some good pointers on Separation Anxiety.

Daycare/ Preschool

Easing the Separation Process for Infants, Toddlers, and Families

Helping Your Toddler with Separation Anxiety

Positive Goodbyes

Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten

Understanding school refusal

-A child may exhibit each behavior on this spectrum at different times

Common symptoms that could signal school refusal behavior

INTERNALIZING/COVERT SYMPTOM EXTERNALIZING/OVERT SYMPTOM
Depression Aggression
Fatigue/tiredness Clinging to an adult
Fear and panic Excessive reassurance-seeking behavior
General and social anxiety Noncompliance and defiance
Self-consciousness Refusal to move in the morning
Somatization Running away from school or home
Worry Temper tantrums and crying

Source

School Refusal: Information for Educators (NASP)

School Refusal Behavior: From Terminology to Treatment

Working Through School Refusal

what can I do when my child refuses to go to school

Anxiety and School Refusal PPT

Dealing With Separation Anxiety In Teens

Criteria for Differential Diagnosis of School Refusal and Truancy

SCHOOL REFUSAL TRUANCY

Severe emotional distress about attending school; may include anxiety, temper tantrums, depression, or somatic symptoms.

Lack of excessive anxiety or fear about attending school.

Parents are aware of absence; child often tries to persuade parents to allow him or her to stay home.

Child often attempts to conceal absence from parents.

Absence of significant antisocial behaviors such as juvenile delinquency.

Frequent antisocial behavior, including delinquent and disruptive acts (e.g., lying, stealing), often in the company of antisocial peers.

During school hours, child usually stays home because it is considered a safe and secure environment.

During school hours, child frequently does not stay home.

Child expresses willingness to do schoolwork and complies with completing work at home.

Lack of interest in schoolwork and unwillingness to conform to academic and behavior expectations.

How parents can help children at home

There are things parents can do to help children and adolescents learn to manage their anxious feelings. Parent support plays a key role in helping kids learn to cope independently. Try these strategies at home to help your child succeed outside of the home:

-Make a plan to help your child transition to school in the morning (arrive early, act as the teacher’s helper before the other kids arrive, get some exercise on the playground before the bell rings)

-Help your child reframe anxious thoughts by coming up with a list of positive thoughts (it even helps to write these on cards and put them in the backpack)

-Write daily lunchbox notes that include positive phrases

-Avoid overscheduling. Focus on playtime, downtime, and healthy sleep habits

-Alert your child to changes in routine ahead of time

-Empathize with your child and comment on progress made

– Teach relaxation strategies

Kids need to learn a variety of tools to use when feeling anxious and overwhelmed. It’s nearly impossible to use adaptive coping strategies when you’re dealing with intense physical symptoms of anxiety, so the first step is with work on learning to calm the anxious response.

  • Deep breathing is the best way to calm rapid heart rate, shallow breathing and feeling dizzy. Teach your child to visualize blowing up a balloon while engaging the diaphragm in deep breathing. Count your child out to help slow the breathing (4 in, 4 hold, 4 out).
  • Guided imagery: Your child can take a relaxing adventure in her mind while engaging in deep breathing. Tell a quick story in a low and even voice to help your child find her center.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: Anxious kids tend to tense their muscles when they’re under stress. Teach your child to relax her muscles and release tension beginning with her hands and arms. Make a fist and hold it tight for five seconds, then slowly release. Move on to the arms, neck and shoulders, and feet and legs.

– Teach cognitive reframing

Kids with social anxiety disorder are often overwhelmed by negative beliefs that reinforce their anxious thoughts. Their beliefs tend to fall into the following categories:

  • Assuming the worst case scenario
  • Believing that others see them through a negative lens
  • Overreacting
  • Personalizing

Teach your child to recognize negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. If your child tends to say things like, “My teacher thinks I’m stupid because I’m bad at reading,” help him recognize the negative thought, ground it in reality (a teacher’s job is to help kids learn not judge them on what they already know), and replace it with a positive thought (“I’m having a hard time reading but my teacher will help me get better.”)

– Teach problem-solving skills

Children with social anxiety disorders tend to become masters of avoidance. They do what they can to avoid engaging in situations that cause the most anxiety. While this might seem like the path of least resistance, it can actually make the social anxiety worse over time.

Teach your child to work through feelings of fear and anxiety by developing problem-solving skills. If a child fears public speaking, for example, she can learn to practice several times at home in front of a mirror, have someone videotape her and watch it back, find the friendly face in the room and make eye contact, and use deep breathing to calm anxious feelings.

Help your child identify her triggers and brainstorm potential problem-solving strategies to work through those triggers.

– Work on friendship skills

While you can’t make friends for your child, you can help your child practice friendship skills. Practice these skills using role play and modeling to help your child feel at ease with peers:

  • Greetings
  • Sliding in and out of groups
  • Conversation starters
  • Listening and responding
  • Asking follow up questions/making follow up statements

Books

What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (What to Do Guides for Kids) by Dawn Huebner

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg

Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney

Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas

When I Miss You by Cornelia Spelman

If things progress-

How to get help for your child

The best treatment to help children struggling with school refusal includes a team approach. While children tend to focus on what they don’t like or worry about at school, the truth is that the underlying issues can include stress at home, social stress, and medical issues (a child who struggles with asthma, for example, might experience excessive worry about having an asthma attack at school). It helps to have a strong team that includes the classroom teacher, family, a school psychologist (if available), and any specialist working with the child outside of school.

  1. Assess: The first step is a comprehensive medical and psychological evaluation. Given that school refusal is generally related to an underlying anxiety or depressive disorder, it’s important to get to the root of the problem and begin there. This will likely include both family and teacher questionnaires or interviews.
  2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This highly structured form of therapy helps children identify their maladaptive thought patterns and learn adaptive replacement behaviors. Children learn to confront and work through their fears.
  3. Systemic desensitization: Some children struggling with school refusal need a graded approach to returning to school. They might return for a small increment of time and gradually build upon it.
  4. Relaxation training: This is essential for children struggling with anxiety. Deep breathing, guided imagery, and mindfulness are all relaxation strategies that kids can practice at home and utilize in school.
  5. Re-entry plan: The treatment team creates a plan to help the student re-enter the classroom. Younger children might benefit from arriving early and helping the teacher in the classroom or helping at the front desk. The plan also includes contingencies to help the student during anxious moments throughout the day (i.e., using fidget toys, taking a brain break to color, a walk outside with a teacher’s aide, etc.)
  6. Routine and structure: Anxious children benefit from predictable home routines. Avoid over-scheduling, as this can increase stress for anxious kids, and put specific morning and evening routines in place.
  7. Sleep: Sleep deprivation exacerbates symptoms of anxiety and depression. It also makes it difficult to get up and out to school in the morning. Establish healthy sleep habits and keep a regular sleep cycle, even during holidays and on the weekends.
  8. Peer buddy: Consider requesting a peer buddy for recess, lunch, and other less structured periods as anxiety can spike during these times.
  9. Social skills training: Many students who struggle with making and keeping friends feel overwhelmed in the school environment. Social skills groups can help kids learn to relate to their peers and feel comfortable in larger groups.

There isn’t a quick fix for school refusal. You might see periods of growth only to experience significant setbacks following school vacations or multiple absences due to physical illness. Acknowledge your child’s difficulty, engage in open and honest communication about it, empathize with your child, and pile on the unconditional love and support.

References

https://www.psycom.net/social-anxiety-how-to-help-kids

http://www.educationandbehavior.com/strategies-schools-help-children-separation-anxiety/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/worry-free-kids/201710/how-help-child-overcome-school-refusal