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Mindfulness expert has easy tips to help kids succeed in what'll be a challenging school year
via @josephineratluri / Instagram and Pexels

Getting kids to go from a summer state of mind back to academics is always a big challenge for parents this time of year. But this back-to-school season comes with the added stress of living during a global pandemic that's sure to make things even more challenging.

Upworthy spoke with Josephine Atluri, a mindfulness expert and mother of seven, to learn some techniques parents and children can use to ease back-to-school stress and improve academic performance throughout the year.

Alturi hosts the popular podcast, "Responding to Life: Talking Health, Fertility, & Parenthood," and her new book "Mindfulness Journal for Parents" helps caregivers transform and enrich their parent-child relationship.


Atluri's age-appropriate mindfulness techniques can help students navigate "big emotions or tough situations" and allow them to "stay present versus worrying about past mistakes or future tasks."

via Pexels

Mindfulness improves academic performance by enhancing students' focus and cognition. It can also help them manage their on-campus social lives by enhancing their emotional awareness.

Mindfulness techniques can also give student-athletes a leg up on the competition.

"Sports are typically a fast-paced activity with a lot of things happening at the same time," Atluri told Upworthy. "Plus, there's a lot of noise while playing from both the players and the fans watching. When you practice mindfulness, you practice slowing down and getting quiet within, no matter what is happening around you."

Looking for a "simple proven, no-nonsense" meditation technique? Upworthy has a great one you can learn here.

Alturi has different mindfulness techniques for students of every age group.

Preschool:

Kids at this age engage better with activities that are fun and visual. Two breathing techniques I love to use for little kids are:

Hugging breath: Have your child give themselves a big hug while breathing slowly. The hug gives them physical support which is especially helpful if they don't have someone around who can comfort them when they have big feelings. The slow breathing tells their brains they are moving from an overwhelmed state to a calmer state of being.

Wolf breath: Have your child pretend they are the wolf from the "Three Little Pigs" blowing down the houses with a long slow breath. The benefit of a slow exhale is that it gives you an opportunity to just let go and blow out your worries whether you realize it or not.

Elementary:

At this age, kids are better able to give meditation and mindfulness a try while also understanding the benefits. You still want to keep it on the shorter side so they feel like it's an activity that is approachable and the benefits are attainable.

A mindfulness practice that really resonates well with kids is cultivating gratitude. They can sit with their eyes closed and breathe slowly and call to mind a few gratitudes from their day. Plus, they can even cultivate gratitude without sitting in meditation and use the strategy when they feel themselves spiraling into a state of negativity.

Researchers have found that people who focus on gratitude are more optimistic, happier, and healthier.

Teenagers:

Teenagers who are struggling with issues of self-esteem, can improve their sense of self-worth by using a mantra while they are sitting with their eyes closed and breathing intentionally. They can remind themselves of affirmations like: "I am loved." "I am worthy." "I am smart." "I am beautiful." "I can do hard things."

Atluri believes that the most important thing parents can do to raise mindful kids is to model the appropriate behavior.

"Our children are always watching what we do as parents and taking it all in whether they realize it or not," Atluri says. "When they see you put into practice ways for managing stress in a healthy way and on a consistent basis, they'll begin to learn and see for themselves the benefits of using mindfulness strategies to combat stress, overwhelm, and worry."

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