Mindful breathing is a simple and effective way to introduce your child to mindfulness and help them learn how to calm their minds and bodies.
Why? Because when the nervous system is under stress, the fight or flight response is triggered. When this happens, the body prepares to either escape or fight a physical threat. This leads to tension in the body, as well as rapid, shallow breathing, which can often further exacerbate stress, fear and overwhelm.
Deep, slow breathing activates the part of the nervous system responsible for switching off the fight or flight response. This sends a message to the brain that there is no longer any danger present and enables your child to calm down.
Mindful breathing alleviates stress and anxiety, and is a simple and effective way to teach children to regulate their emotions.
Now here’s where it gets tricky. We often tell children to “take a deep breath” when they are feeling upset or overwhelmed. But kids don’t know what “take a deep breath” means. They don’t know HOW to take a deep breath. So simply telling them to do it isn’t going to work. Especially if they’re mid meltdown.
The best way to teach children mindful breathing, is to provide them with visual cues and other sensory feedback which helps them improve their focus and master the technique. We need to teach them in a fun way that they can actually understand by turning a somewhat abstract concept into something they can see and feel.
It is recommended that you do not try any of these mindful breathing exercises for the first time while your child is distressed. Practicing them while your child is in a relaxed and calm state means they will be more receptive to trying something new, and better able to learn the technique effectively.
Ready to get started? Here are 5 fun and easy mindful breathing exercises that help kids calm downRead More →
When I think of Halloween, I think of fun games and activities, Halloween parties, yummy food, cute pumpkin crafts, adorable costumes, and getting together with neighbourhood friends to have a good laugh together. And while Halloween might be looking a bit different this year for lots of us, most of these things CAN still happen, and it doesn’t have to be any less fun! In fact, with trick or treating cancelled this year in places, this is a perfect opportunity to focus less on treats and more on health, wellness and connection with the people we love!
So today I’m giving you 6 of my favourite Halloween mindfulness exercises for kids. These activities come from my Mindful Little Halloween Activity Book and will help you make Halloween extra special and lots of fun for your little people this year, no matter what it’s going to look like.
And, while these activities are all playful and fun, they also all serve a very important purpose. They help your child learn about emotions and how to manage them, so that ultimately, you can have a calmer Halloween this year (and a calmer home too!).Read More →
It can be hard for us as parents to know how to help kids with major life changes. But these changes and transitions are a part of life for everyone. Things like moving house, the death of loved ones, divorce, changing schools, or welcoming a new baby to the family, can all be hugely stressful for kids. And since their major life changes are often pretty major for us parents too, we often have no idea how to best help our kids though them.
But with a little bit of support from you, you CAN get through these difficult periods. In fact, these transition periods can even be an opportunity for learning, strengthening connections and building resilience and self confidence in your child.
Helping one of my own children overcome anxiety was one of the reason I decided to begin teaching others how to teach and learn mindfulness.
My fifth child was delivered via caesarean. After over 10 hours of labour I was rushed into an emergency caesarean due to complications. When he was born he was left with his father for hours, while I was in recovery. And I was told later, that no one could comfort him. So, his entry into this world was followed by hours of uncontrollable crying and stress. This triggered strong anxiety within him, that would last for another 5 or so years.
When we finally met he clung to me like a little koala. If fact, I nick named him Koaly. He literally spent most of this time attached to me in a baby joborn. Even when I was reading or working around the house, he was attached, which really helped him feel secure, content and happy. And he was a very happy baby, always smiling and laughing…as long as I was right there. But, still his anxiety would get the better of him at times. And sadly, the little darling suffered from hallucinations whenever he had a high fever (under the influence of the drug Nurofen) and would literally see scary figures and experience walls moving and unfortunately we didn’t know this was happening until he was old enough to speak. Fortunately, he wasn’t sick too often and he rarely allowed us to administer drugs to control his fever. By age three he never took Nurofen again!
Even almost 3 years of breast feeding and having him always with me, didn’t relieve him of his anxiety. As he grew, I noticed he was very shy around others and would become anxious quiet easily. So when he was ready to start school at age 5, I enrolled him in the local Montessori school, just to ensure his social and emotional development was going to continue to be developed in a nurturing environment. It was wonderful to be able to only need to leave him for 3 hours a day, until he was ready to stay longer.Read More →
The answer to the question, ‘‘How long should my child practice mindfulness?” is individual for each child. However, as a rule a child aged 3 to 12 years of age may practice ‘formal mindfulness training’ for around 1 to 5 minutes. You may have heard that a child should practice for one minute for each year they are. For example, a 3 year old should be practicing for 3 minutes, while a 12 years old should be practicing for 12 minutes. However, this is the fastest way to have children hate mindfulness training. And if you are trying to get your children to practice formal mindfulness of breath for 5 to 10 minutes you have probably already noticed most children don’t want to practice for that long! In fact, most adults can’t even do it!
Why? Because that’s more like a ‘time out’ to the average child. Children love learning new things when it’s an enjoyable experience. They are also very quick to dislike learning experiences that just aren’t fun. Take a moment and recall you yourself as a child. Would you enjoy sitting still and focusing on your breathing for 10 minutes? No, of course not! What’s more you would probably be wonder what’s wrong with the grown ups!Read More →
This free loving kindness exercise for children is designed to promote all 5 of the Early Years Learning Framework.
1. Using 3 to 5 big breaths, have the child blow up an imaginary balloon that’s shaped like a heart. By blowing into their hands and allowing their hands to slowly expand with the blowing up of the imaginary balloon.
2. Have the children speak into the balloon to fill it with loving energy. For example, “I love my mum. And I love my dad, I love my brother. I love my sister. I love my friends, I love my pets.”
3. Once the balloon is full of loving energy, have the children affirm that they are sending that love out into our world. For example, “I’m sending my loving heart out into my world”. Or “I’m sending my loving energy to the people in my heart”.Read More →