We sought out the advice of expert child psychologist Dr Sam Wass, from Channel 4’s ‘Secret Life of 4-and-5-year-olds’ to shed some light on how you can take the stress out of your school run.
The science is simple. Stress contagion is a real phenomenon, so when you are rushed and in a hurry your children will pick up on your stress levels – and they will get stressed too. The best way to avoid this is to give you both something interesting to think about. Find out more about the science behind it...
In episode one of MORE THAN In-Car Entertainers, exotic animal expert Scott Adams brings two weird and wonderful creatures with him to excite 5-year-old Henry on his way to school. Talking with Henry about animals, which he has a passion for, encourages him to open up and offer more meaningful and fruitful conversation.
Playing quizmaster with Henry on his love for animals keeps him engaged so his Dad can stay focused on the road. However, the mental stimulation provided by discussing a passion goes further than de-stressing the school run and strengthening relationships. It also helps to improve communication skills and develop cognitive ability, which are essential tools for school.
This fun game will help shake tiredness away:
1. Get them to imagine they're a hedgehog by lifting their fingers up like hedgehog spikes.
2. Tell them to close their eyes and curl up as if they've seen a fox and say ‘Uh oh Fox! Curl up’
3. Say ‘Fox is gone! Uncurl’ and stretch out.
4. Repeat 3 times.
Now they're awake!
Another useful tip is to have the kids utilise simple meditation techniques, teaching them to learn to control the focus of their attention. Try using some of these meditation exercises with your kids whilst you’re on the school run:
1. Tell them to close their eyes and use their ‘spidey sense’ (sixth sense) to hone in on things that they can hear outside the car and inside the car. This could even be used as an inspiration for more storytelling.
2. With their eyes closed, have them tell you five different sensations they can feel at that moment.
3. Have them use their imagination to think of something specific, such as something green and square, then explore the details of this with them so their imagination can really run wild from the backseat of the car!
One final tip; if your children are older, talking about mindfulness and analysing stress is a strong starting point on the road to managing it. Just simply talking about what it is that stresses you out can help you to get better control over your own stress. And understanding what stresses each other out can help to make efforts to stop triggering each other.
Try seeing if there are similarities or differences in how you feel when you become tense or take it in turns to discuss exactly what it is that you find stressful (it doesn’t have to be each other!)
Share your school run de-stressing tips!
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