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1 Good Food In the run up to the SATS, make sure your child gets plenty of energy boosting foods. Eggs can help memory, concentration and emotional balance. Try and include some raw vegetables in every meal, so they get plenty of vitamins and minerals.
2 Exercise It is essential that your child gets out and has plenty of exercise during this time. Exercise stimulates the cerebellum part of the brain, which is responsible for learning and is also a fantastic stress buster! Encourage your child to run and play in the garden, or cycle/skateboard/take a walk in the park.
3 Breathe Deeply Breathing deeply is a very effective way to stay calm. Encourage your child to take deep breaths right down into their stomach. Deep breaths are a fantastic way of staying calm in during the SATS, especially if they feel their mind going blank. Try this simple breathing exercise: Take in a deep breath, put your lips together to make a small O and let out a soft slow and steady breath. See if you can blow out all the old air in your lungs. Now take in a deep breath, filling your lungs with new clean air. Repeat this exercise 2 or 3 times. There are plenty more breathing exercises in the Relax Kids CD Relax and De-stress and How are You feeling Today CDs.
4 Sunlight Make sure your child is getting enough sunlight. We are constantly being warned about the dangers of the sun, but it is important to remember that although over-exposure to strong sunlight is harmful, sunlight provides us with Vitamin D. Ten minutes of daily exposure to the sun is enough to supply them with all the vitamin D they need. It will also make them feel relaxed and cheerful as sunlight stimulates the pineal gland.
5 Staying Positive It is so easy for children to feel stressed and pressured and then only see the negative aspects of life. It is important to encourage them to be good to themselves and not 'beat themselves up'. Making a list of five things that they have done that they are proud of and their top five qualities, will put them in a better frame of mind. As parents, it is important to keep praising good behaviour and achievements. You may like to use the Relax Kids Star Cards or Mood Cards, Star Poster or Star stickers.
6 Visualisation Olympic athletes and professional musicians practice visualisation exercises where they imagine they are winning a race or playing perfectly. By mentally rehearsing what is about to happen prepares the body and mind for the stressful event. Ask your child to imagine they are sitting at their desk, feeling very calm and relaxed and answering all the questions easily.
7 Affirmations Affirmations work in a similar way to visualisations, in that they help put your child in a positive state of mind. Get your child to try this exercise: Sit or stand up straight and smile, and say to themselves ten times, while breathing in and out slowly "I am relaxed, I am in control, I confident and I can do it." Try listening to the Relax Kids I am Wonderful CD.
8 Don't Panic! When a child is anxious and stressed, he/she is less able to concentrate and perform well. Encourage your child not to get too stressed. Explain calmly that, even though these tests are important, they should not worry about them. There is no need for them to panic as that does not help as, all as the tests are not the 'be all and end all' - and as long as the children do their best, they will be OK.
9 Sleep It is vital that your child gets enough sleep during this stressful time. Without sufficient sleep, children can feel tired, cranky, clumsy and moody. They will be less likely to think properly and so will find remembering things more difficult. Most children between 5-12 need between 9.5 to 11 hours sleep per night to function well. Teaching your child simple relaxation techniques will help them sleep peacefully and wake up fresh and happy. Some parents leave music playing or a Relax Kids CD such as Nature or Relax and De-stress, to ensure children get a sound nights sleep.
10 Relax Teaching children how to relax is so important during this time. Here are two simple relaxation exercises to read to your child at night, or whenever they are feeling stressed:
'Elastic Band.' Close your eyes, be very still and imagine your body is a piece of elastic. Just relax to start with and enjoy being a floppy piece of elastic. Allow your legs to be floppy and relaxed, let your arms be floppy and relaxed, let your stomach be floppy and relaxed and finally, let your neck and head be floppy and relaxed. Now, very slowly imagine someone is very gently tugging your head and someone else is pulling your feet at the same time. And the elastic is becoming tighter. Your muscles are becoming more taut. Your whole body is getting longer and longer. Enjoy this wonderful stretching feeling as you are growing longer. Then ... ping....let all the muscles in your body relax as the elastic band is released. Relax back to being a floppy bendy piece of elastic again. Enjoy this wonderful feeling of being totally relaxed and floppy.
'Big Balloon.' Close your eyes, be very still and imagine that you are holding a big balloon. It is very light. It feels very smooth. The balloon is in your favourite colour. Now, hold the bottom of your balloon, and feel the balloon gently rising into the sky. Each time you breathe in and out, you gently glide further and further into the warm summer sky. The deeper your breath is, the further you can travel. Enjoy this feeling of weightlessness. Enjoy the feeling of being completely free. Your body feels weightless and free and your mind feels totally free.
Extracts from The Wishing Star, Nature CD and Quiet Spaces CD
Marneta is founder of Relax Kids - UKs leading expert on children's relaxation. www.relaxkids.com www.relaxschools.com. She is author of 2 books and has produced a range of over 20 relaxation products and has appeared on BBC Dragons' Den.
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