In new shoes and with scrubbed faces the children march off to the first day of school feeling full of anticipation and excitement. Parents are hopeful that their child will have a successful school year and will be guided by a competent, kind, inspiring teacher.
After a few weeks of school the initial excitement lessens and teacher, parent and child settle in to the reality of what this year will bring. By mid to late October problems, if there are any, have shown up.
Finding out that your child is not adjusting well to school can be a devastating experience. Parents often feel in a quandary as to how to handle a difficult situation. After all they believed they were doing a fine and good job of parenting (and they probably were) before they learned of the problem. Being faced with a problem triggers feelings of inadequacy and sadness in most parents.
Problems come and go. No matter how hard we try to avoid problems they will come knocking at our door. Growing up is a difficult process and helping someone to grow up is every bit as difficult. But, problems can be handled and overcome. We gain strength through effective dealing with problems.
School problems can range from mild to severe and many helpful solutions exist. Our children are our greatest national resource and a wide variety of professionals are available to help child and parent. Ayurveda can be a helpful adjunct to any solution that you have implemented. Whatever Ayurvedic interventions you add to your lifestyle will simply enhance the well-being of you and your child.
Common sense tells you that anxiety will handicap your efforts to help your child. We communicate our state of being through our interactions and if you communicate anxiety your child will become nervous about herself. This nervousness will only get in the way of success and problem solving. In Chapter 9 of Healing Depression the Mind-Body Way Sandra and I discuss the Transcendental Meditation technique. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology in 1989 the TM technique reduces anxiety more than twice as much as any other technique (when compared with two decades of stress-related studies). When only studies with strong research designs were considered, the TM technique was shown to reduce anxiety more than four times as much as all of the other techniques. TM can be a marvelous life aid. It can help you to alleviate your anxiety, to keep stress at bay and empower you to help your child overcome problems.
Following are a few health related suggestions you can integrate into your life style. These will enhance your child’s well-being. Enhancing physical, mental and emotional health will be an asset to whatever solution you are implementing to help your child overcome school problems.
- A nightly foot massage is enjoyable and will help your child sleep more soundly. The massage stimulates marma points for sound sleep, and often helps reduce frequent awakening. Using sesame oil (www.mapi.org) on the soles of the feet (and on the head if desired) is said to help the development of all the tissues. It seems to smooth out psychological upsets, like anger or frequent nightmares. Many parents report that their children become sick less frequently after they institute this practice.
- Outdoor games and exercise are good for the growing child’s body and mind. Children should exercise as much as they like.
- Children need more sleep than adults, of course, but Ayurveda believes that they will derive more benefit from their sleep if they get it earlier at night rather than later in the morning. Ayurveda recommends a bedtime of 8:30 (or earlier for school-age children. Many parents keep their children up later partly because the parents’ long work schedules do not allow them to see their children until late at night. The cost—children who doze through class at school the next day, and whose growth process may be affected by sleep deprivation —is unacceptable.
- Between meal snacking is normal for children; they often need the extra food, since their bodies are growing rapidly. They should, however, snack on healthy, balanced foods rather than junk food. In a natural setting, the sweet tooth, a universal among children, is essentially a craving for sweet fruit, which is of course healthy. In our unnatural environment cultural influences can start to divert that natural “wisdom of the body” away from healthful and toward unhealthful cravings. Parents should use common sense in handling this.
- A routine for meals is important. The whole family should sit together at the evening meal every day. If it is at all possible to arrange to eat lunch and breakfast together, this makes a real difference for them, too. According to Ayurveda, children feel more se cure and happy when they eat with their parents, which means that the food they eat has a healthier effect. Children should be allowed to eat as much or as little as they want at a meal, rather than either clean the plate or control their appetites. As long as the food we serve is freshly prepared, wholesome, and delicious, children’s palates are usually trustworthy. While children should eat what they like, some foods are good staples for most children. These include:
- Cow’s milk, which helps nourish all the tissues. According to Ayuveda the milk should be taken warm and previously boiled.
- Dried fruits, especially dates, figs, and raisins (best soaked overnight before eating).
- Nuts, especially almonds, coconut, and walnuts, are good.
- Puffed cereals, such as puffed rice and wheat.
- Parents should not rely on these foods only: children should have a balanced, varied diet, so that they get all the different kinds of nutrients they need.
(The above suggestions were taken from Contemporary Ayurveda: Medicine and Research in Maharishi Ayur-Veda by Hari Sharma and Christopher Clark)
We know that some of these things take extra time and extra effort and that it isn’t possible to do them all. But adding any one of these steps incrementally will have a positive effect on your child’s development and ability to be alert and successful in school. And that will make your job of parenting easier and ultimately more rewarding.”
Sandra and I wish you perfect health and happiness. We wish your children success in all their endeavors and hope that this school year inspires each child to grow in wisdom and in mastering school material!