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Tips for teaching kids self-care to better handle the school year

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 is one of our Psychology Clinical Trainees supporting children through our partnerships with Compton Unified School District & Long Beach Day Nursery . He is currentl y finishing up 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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