Summertime is coming to an end, and with that comes all of the back to school anxiety and jitters that are common among kids and parents. Your kids may experience the common physical effects of anxiety associated with back to school time – ranging from stomach aches to sleeping problems. They may also experience emotional stress from the fear of making new friends, meeting new teachers, fear of being bullied, pressure of getting good grades, and worries of being unpopular. With that said, it’s important for us as parents to first remember that these physical and emotional feelings are very common, and even the most well adjusted kids are bound to feel some sort of pressure when they return back to school.
The question becomes: what can we do to help our kids cope with the physical and emotional stresses associated with the back to school season? Over the next few weeks, I’ll be providing some tips that I’ve shared with parents over the years which have been most helpful. Here’s the second one in the series …
Tip #2: Put your kids on a brain-strengthening diet
Not all diets are for weight loss. Even kids that have great athletic physiques are susceptible to the after-effects of poor eating habits, including fatigue, anxiety, poor concentration, and mood swings. You can help your kids feel better by simply adjusting their diet and getting rid of foods and snacks that are counter-productive.
Here are a few brain healthy eating tips:
- Purge the bad foods in your house. Open your refrigerator and get rid of the foods you know are unhealthy for your kids, including sodas, snacks that are high in sugar, and foods that are high in fat and preservatives.
- Create a healthy menu. Sit down with your kids and create a breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack menu together. Create at least three different healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and snack time and allow them to choose what they want to eat each day. If your kids help with the process, they will be intrinsically motivated to stick with that diet. You can make it fun by having them design a menu with their meal options and also have them go to the grocery store and help pick out all of the ingredients. If you’re struggling with how to create a proper diet, do some research or speak with a licensed dietitian that can help make a list of heart and brain-healthy foods.
- Lead by example. If your children see you eating unhealthy foods then you are contradicting what you say. Kids are smart, they will fight you on this subject if you don’t lead by example yourself. On the bright side, this is the right way for you to maintain a healthy lifestyle too!
Reflect back to when you were a kid and think of how you would have parented yourself. What would you do differently than your parents? What would you (or do you already) do the same? Life is a mystery and an adventure. Both good and bad experiences are part of life, and can help you understand your kids a little better. Keep this blog in mind and refer to it when you feel like you need a little parenting boost. Hopefully one day you’ll share these tips with your kids as they enter adulthood and become parents themselves!
Next week we’ll talk about making sure your kids feel comfortable communicating with you.
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