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It's Back to School Season: Tips for teaching kids self-care to better handle the school year

By: Brian Betancour, B.A.

With the new school year upon us, it is important to prepare your children for the changes they are going to be enduring. These changes could include a new school environment, a new teacher, new friends, new and advanced topics of education, and perhaps changes within the household that have disrupted a set routine for you and your children.

It is important to teach your children the benefits of self-care and how including a self-care routine not only promotes physical well-being, but can generate a healthy mindset. An effective mindfulness-based, breathing practice to consider is the 4-7-8 breathing technique ! (Take a 4 second deep breath in, hold it for 7 seconds, slowly let the air out through your mouth for 8 seconds, and repeat as many times as preferred).

Mindfulness-based practices should not be thought of as a task or an extra chore. It can be taught individually to an adult, a child, or practiced as a family (highly recommended for bonding). Mindfulness-based practices do not need to be practiced in a particular way, because there are various ways to practice; from breathing to fun activities that promote the same outcome of stress-reduction and emotional awareness. It could potentially be the first step in a morning routine to start off the day, applied in the midst of a stress-building day, or the last step right before going to bed.

For children, many mindful-based practices have been re-imagined to grasp their attention. Some ideas include: Superhero Yoga Posing that allows children to breathe calmly, tense and then relax their muscles, all while mimicking the poses of their favorite superheroes. Turning on Spidey-Senses to redirect scattered focus, place attention towards their five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell), and describe what they are experiencing in that moment as a way to distract them from stress-inducing thoughts and situations. Mindfulness-based practices have been known to assist children in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, increasing focus and attention, regulating mood and affect, preventing and/or decreasing temper tantrums and other maladaptive behaviors, and assist in promoting overall academic growth.

Remember, this is time spent to focus on YOU and your CHILD, to clear your/their MIND, reduce your/their STRESS, reduce your/their ANXIETIES, assists you/them in reaching a GOAL(S), and most of all, to BECOME AWARE of your/their insights, thoughts and emotions to consciously take control.

Brian Betancour was one of our Psychology Clinical Trainees supporting children through our partnerships with Compton Unified School District & Long Beach Day Nursery. He completed a Master's degree in Marital and Family Therapy at California State University, Dominguez Hills.


  1. 4-7-8 Breathing Technique was developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, founder and director of the Univ. of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.

  2. Yoga/Superhero Posing ideas gathered from the authors: Lani-Rosen Gallagher (founder of Full of Joy Yoga & author of Mindful Yoga Breaks Cards) and Carolyn Clarke (founder of Bambino Yoga, yoga/meditation instructor, author of imagination books)

  3. Spidey Senses mindfulness-based practice-idea came from the blogging website

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