As spring and summer approach, so do the oft dreaded tests in school.  These assessments can cause loads of stress and anxiety for kids.  While you may not be able to forgo the tests, you can help your child (and you), reduce the fear and stress that accompanies them.  Complete elimination may not be possible, but hopefully the following morning exercises and activities can help you and your family feel more calm, collected, and prepared for those big days ahead!

As your child wakes up, encourage him/her to sit in their bed for a few minutes before springing up. It’s important to adjust to new surroundings and goings-ons without reactiveness.  In order to do this, you will need to ensure that alarms, whether electronic or human, are set early enough to allow a slow process.  If using an electronic alarm, set the music to gentle nature sounds or classical rather than jarring buzzers and bells.  If you are waking your child, try to be gentle as possible. Of course, some kids prove to be as hard to wake as a hibernating bear, but attempt to gently nudge them awake, if possible. Once awake, lie there and take in your surroundings. The smells, the sights, the feels.  Let your senses become awake too. Once you and your child have had 2-3 minutes, take three long and deep breaths together, beginning at the bottom of the belly. Lastly, gently roll towards a sitting position. Once there, take a moment to feel “all the feels” and come to a place of purpose. Teach your child to set a reasonable goal for the day-small goals are admirable. Small goals are manageable and have a greater effect especially when dealing with the pre-existing stress! Begin to move. Look at your child as you go through an easy flow of table, cat/cows, head and neck rolls, and butterfly and have them repeat that they are strong, capable, and flexible. As you end the flow and reflect, set the goal for the day. Maybe something like, “I will enjoy our lunch break rather than think about the test” or “I will show kindness and compassion to my friends who are also feeling queasy”. 

Next, ensure a good breakfast. We are all busy in the a.m. and it is a given that we often rely on quick breakfasts in order to get something in our bellies. But it is vital that we have adequate nutrition in the morning, especially children. Test week is the time that we may need to take more time to prepare healthful breakfasts and lunches (if you prepare them at home).  Basic rules apply here-nothing fancy! Colorful plates are perfect and whatever else your individual family eats based on preferred tastes, dietary needs and restrictions, and nutrition plans. Just make sure that you eat! On test week, sit down together and talk about strategy. Remind your kiddo to breathe, to repeat a mantra, or to visualize calm if they begin feeling overwhelmed.  Comfort them and let them know that they will do their best-showing confidence in their efforts over a heaping plate of brain food is a must to add to the ritual. Take each bite slowly and savor the taste together.

Lastly, help your child by making sure they have everything they need, including a little reminder from you! Whether it’s a note, an inconspicuous talisman, or a photo, a tratak-inspired focal point will help them remain calm, feel secure, and keep their eyes on the prize. Do a quick departing and energizing bunny breath together and encourage them to knock out the day.

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