If you have a sensory child or a kiddo who has some anxiety and ADHD sort of challenges, don’t they always seem to get so much worse during back-to-school season?
As we transition back to school and summer turns into fall, here are some tips to help your kids de-stress and have a smoother, happier, calmer, more sensory, emotional, and behavioral-regulated transition.
Here are three reasons why they go sideways and three things you can do to get your kiddo back on track. The goal is to smooth their path and keep their emotions and immune systems healthy and strong as the school year starts.
Why Transitions Can Be Extra Challenging
The number one reason things tend to go off the rails during this time is because these kiddos, our Perfect Storm kiddos, do not handle transitions well. What we know about the neurology behind sensory, anxiety, ADHD, spectrum challenges (and seizures too because they tend to get worse with seasonal transitions) are that these kiddos already have an amped-up nervous system. Their sympathetic fight-or-flight system, even at rest, doesn’t rest. This is probably the biggest transition of the year when we change from the fun outdoor activities, sleeping in and all the things we get to do during summer into the school year.
Our Nervous Systems Follow the Seasons
Number two is simply the way God designed us. Our nervous systems follow the seasons and what’s called circadian rhythms. Our nervous system is always adapting and changing to our environment. A very powerful part of the environment is the temperature, sunlight, and seasonal changes. We are supposed to slow down as the weather gets cooler and the days get shorter – and the school year seems to cause us to do the exact opposite. Our schedules somehow get even busier. Consequently, we are speeding up in a time where our nervous system is designed to slow down and that creates some challenges and stress to the nervous system.
Leaves Fall and Allergies Flare Up
The third reason why our immune systems are going to have to work even harder is due to allergies. As the leaves change, fall and it gets a whole lot dustier, our immune systems have to step it up. Now allergies are an “over-inflammed” conversation in today’s world. They are very real, but why do we have so many allergies? Is it really our genetics that have changed in the last year or two? Is it that there didn’t used to be seasonal changes, pollen, and leaves dying? No, that stuff has always been around. It’s just that the nervous systems of our kiddos are so stressed out so early because of this thing called subluxation and the Perfect Storm, which kicks the nervous system into a sympathetic dominance. This does one thing to the immune system, it works less efficiently and causes it to be pro-inflammatory. So the reason we have more allergies and trouble with seasonal transitions is that we have more stress.
So in the fall and winter the immune systems of our kids are going to have to do more work. They’re going to have more stuff to process and regulate. There will be kids at school that have germs, which is completely normal – there’s more of them in life than there are of us!
Germs are not the bad guy, our inability to adapt and overcome them has always been the actual root of being healthy or sick.
We can use summer to finish this analogy. If it’s a really, really hot day and your air conditioner kicks on, have you noticed sometimes your lights flicker? Or if you’re driving your car on a really hot day running the AC at full blast, notice how the engine has a little less power. That’s your child’s nervous system when their immune system is working really hard.
If the immune system is taking more energy from the nervous system to regulate and do its job in the fall and winter, there is less left over for emotional regulation, focus on cognition, behavior and emotions. So you’re going to see those challenges come to the forefront – neurosensory, behavioral, emotional stuff – if the immune system isn’t working well.
How Can We Help Our Children in the Fall and Winter?
Here are three steps you can take to combat those added stressors. Number one for sure is neurologically-focused chiropractic care. It is the cheat code and magic formula your family is missing if you don’t already have it. Now when we get busy, what do we typically do? We stop doing so many of the good things because they’re time-consuming. That’s what’s awesome about chiropractic, you can get in there in five to ten minutes and get on with your busy schedule. That’s my favorite health hack about neurologically focused chiropractic.
We can activate your child’s vagus nerve, the parasympathetic, calming, relaxing, and emotionally regulating side of the nervous system, in three minutes or less.
So during the busiest season, we have our wellness patients bump up to two times a week instead of once if they’re on wellness care. If you haven’t started with pediatric neurologically focused chiropractic care yet, and this season hits hard and your child is struggling with their emotions, anxiety, ADHD or immune system, this is the time you get yourself to a PX Doc office. It will transform their health, emotions, and immune system this school year and make it so much better and smoother for you. It is the magic missing link for so many families that may already be doing number two and number three.
Number two is to take the time to slow down every chance you get. Friday nights when our kids don’t have sports, we don’t schedule anything. We come home and we get them outside – nature is calming and relaxing. We also really protect our bedtimes. We organize our day so that after sports and getting adjusted two times a week (once a week when life is easy, two times a week when it’s busy), we make sure that a healthy dinner is all set and ready to go. We’re going to have dinner, get that homework done and get to bed. We really protect the sleep schedules and maximize sleep in the busy season as best you can.
The third thing we should do this time of year is add in a few extra magnesium supplements, which is a calming, relaxing, effective sleep supplements. You can add in a few more like elderberry and immune-boosting supplements during the fall transition and maybe into winter that you wouldn’t really worry about in the summer.
Try to think of all this as a math equation. If the transition back to school and fall going into winter means more stress in your child’s life, then you have got to match it and exceed it with more good things – chiropractic, sleep, immune boosting supplements, getting outside, going for walks, having fun in nature as a family – these are all wonderful de-stressors.
Just simply match the stress. Try not to worry about it, it’s a part of life. You can absolutely drive through it, adapt and overcome it. Our family loves to be busy and we love to do things. We just always meet the demand on our children’s nervous systems and make sure that we’re keeping it equal and healthy. We’re always trying to keep slack in this system and stay ahead. God bless and be well.