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."

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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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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.

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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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