Mindfulness for Parents of Young School-aged Children I

Mindful family
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    By Aliya Khan

    Mindful Parenting of Children 5 to 7 Years of Age

    Building a Healthier & Happier Family through Mindfulness!

    Welcome to mindful parenting for you & your family! This website will provide you with information to help strengthen and foster positive relationships between you and children in your family between 5 and 7 years old. Some of you may be wondering what it means to be mindful, and that is okay! Mindfulness will help you and your child manage stress (Sheridan, 2016). It will help you and your child become more aware of the present moment, thoughts and feelings (Sheridan, 2016). Mindfulness will also help strengthen the relationship and communication between you and your child!

    Mindful family

    Your Child’s Growing Bodies, Minds, & Ideas!

    As your child’s body grows, so will his or her needs, thoughts, and behaviours. You play a bigrole in supporting your child’s growth and development. Your support in helping build relationships with peers, boosting self-esteem, and offering words of praise, encouragement and accomplishment are critical to positive child development (Perry et al., 2017). Here is a list of some of the changes you can expect your child to experience, coupled with ways you can help ensure positive growth:

    • Between the ages of 5 to 7, children continue to gain weight and height (Perry et al., 2017). As their bodies grow, so does their dietary needs. Your child may also lose his or first baby tooth during this time as well (Perry et al., 2017)! It is important to teach your child about healthy dental care and adult teeth!
    Mindful family
    • Your child is starting to learn about feelings and how to react to different situations (National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health, & First Nations Health Authority, 2013a). He or she may also begin to notice how others around them feel. You can help your child understand feelings better by asking questions such as:
      • How do you think this person feels?
      • Why do you think this person feels this way?
      • What do you think this person needs?
    • Your child is beginning to shape his or her personality (Perry et al., 2017). A loving and stable home and family environment can help shape a strong and healthy personality for your child. These interactions at home will influence the relationships that your child will form in school and community settings as well (Perry et al., 2017).
    • During the ages of 5 and 7, your child’s moral values will be a reflection of the ones you hold (Perry et al., 2017). The rules, behaviours, rewards, and discipline you practice at home will influence your child’s moral development.

    These are just some of the changes your child may experience during the ages of 5 to 7 years. This web guide will help prepare you for these changes using mindfulness & communication techniques.

    Ensuring Positive Family Meal Times, Dietary Habits, & Appetites!

    As mentioned above, your child’s growth may lead to changes in appetite and food selection (Perry et al., 2017). He or she may become pickier with what they want to eat as well (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). Fear not, for there are healthy ways to help your child overcome food preferences and methods for them to learn healthy meal time behaviours! It is important to remember to approach challenges such as this in a positive manner, without yelling, force, or shame. Here are some mindful tips when working through this:

    Mindful Meals
    • Sometimes, children need to try foods more than once before they like it (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). Try introducing the food on multiple occasions. Leave a space of time between when your child next tries the same food item. Let’s say your child does not like broccoli. Wait a week before getting your child to try broccoli again.
    • Set some rules for the dinner table (Weller, 2017). Some parents may let their child know that toys are not allowed at the table, food needs to stay on the plate, and everyone needs to help clean up. This will help your child understand what behaviours are appropriate during dinner time. You can help instill these behaviours by mirroring these actions as well (e.g. no cell phones at the table).
    Mindful cooking
    • It is healthier to not use food as a type of reward for your child. Using food as a reward or way of showing affection can lead to your child using food as a way to cope with stress or other feelings (Gavin, 2015). Instead, you can use hugs, words of encouragement or affection, and one-on-one time to show your child you love them.
    • Involve your child in the food preparation and clean-up processes (Weller, 2017). Make sure to let them participate in age-appropriate tasks. For example, they can stir, cut soft vegetables, and serve food. By letting your child prepare the meal with you, they will know what to expect for meal prep, and they may be more open to trying new foods (Weller, 2017).
    • Let your child have some control over what they eat (Gavin, 2015). While it is important for you to buy healthy foods for your child to eat, you can give your child some choice as to what they would like from what you selected. It can also help to schedule regular meal and snack times for your child (Gavin, 2015).

    Destress with Your Child: Breathing Circle Activity

    We all know what stress feels like! Busy work schedules, taking the kids to lessons, paying bills; these are all things that may stress us adults out! Although your child is only 5, 6, or 7 years old, he or she experiences stress too! They may feel stress about starting school, making friends, fears, or trying a new activity (Perry et al., 2017). Since you and your child feel stress, why not destress together? By destressing with your child, you are teaching him or her a positive way to manage stress. Your child will look to you for how to react in stressful times and will learn and use these behaviours to manage his or her own stress as well (Perry et al., 2017).

    Mindful Breathing

    Deep breathing is a mindful exercise known to be useful in managing one’s stress (Sheridan, 2016). It helps our minds focus on the present moment, and it helps to release stress and tension that can build within us (Sheridan, 2016). For this activity, you and your child can incorporate deep breathing and mindfulness as follows:

    Breathing with a teddy bear
    • Let your child pick out a teddy bear or light toy to do this activity with. You can also get a teddy bear to help your child get more excited about this activity. For children 5 years old, it may be helpful for you to make a story about this teddy bear so that they are more engaged in the activity.
    • Everyone can lie in a circle together. Have your child focus on the teddy bear while taking a deep breath in, followed by a deep breath out. If it helps your child to know how long to breathe, they can count to 3 while breathing in. They can also count to 3 when breathing out. Your child’s focus will remain on his or her breathing, as well as the rise and fall of the teddy bear. As a result, he or she will be more aware of the present moment, breathing rate, and the calmness in the situation (Sheridan, 2016). You will notice that you also experience these same emotions when participating in this activity.
    • You and your child can do this activity for a minute or two at least three times a day. Remember to talk to your child about how he or she feels before and after the activity. This helps to ensure that both you and your child are on the same page about the benefits of this activity on coping with stress. This activity can help calm your child in stressful or anxiety-provoking situations.

    Try the Destress with Nature Video

    Video created by Aliya Khan
    2 mins, November 2018

    Mindful Parenting Resources

    Teaching Children Mindful Awareness And Self-Love Through Stories

    Lotus Blue

    One of the ways that you can build a positive relationship with your child is by reading together. Your child may begin learning how to read between the ages of 5 to 7. Through reading, your child develops exploration skills, and expands his or her imagination and knowledge (Perry et al., 2017). Reading with your child has also proven to build a stronger relationship between you both (Hyra, 2015). In this section, discussions about age-appropriate books, as well as methods to enhance learning and inquisition during reading are discussed. For example, the use of picture books can help your child better understand a story. Asking questions and allowing questions are also two ways that learning during reading periods can be made better (Miller & Stoeckel, 2019). Cuddling with your child while reading is an excellent way to show your love and affection for your child as well (Hyra, 2015). Click the link below to explore these ideas further!

    URL: https://www.yourbodythetemple.com/mindful-reading-with-children-2/


    Fun Ways to keep your Child Healthy!

    Lotus Blue

    With your child starting school, there is a high chance that he or she may come home with a bug! This section will discuss exciting and interactive ways that can help you teach your kids about ways to stop bugs from coming home and getting them sick (e.g. proper handwashing). Each activity keeps in mind that children in this age group learn best through their own experiences and social interaction (Perry et al., 2017). Sentences are kept short, and words are no longer than 8 letters so that your child can participate in the interactive, online games (Miller & Stoeckel, 2019). A play-based approach is taken to a lot of the activities, as this is an effective way of teaching your child and building a strong bond between you and your child (Perry et al., 2017). The simplified language ensures that your child can better understand the information shared in these education tools. Your child can play or participate in each activity with you, or with another peer.

    URL: https://www.parents.com/health/hygiene/10-things-mommy-docs-do-to-keep-their-kids-healthy/


    Mindful Discipline for Kids

    Lotus Blue

    Children between the ages of 5 to 7 may be able to know rules specific to behaviours, words, and situations; however, they do not yet know the reasons behind such rules (Perry et al., 2017). Likewise, having a rewards and punishment system may help them to identify which behaviours are “bad” and which are “good.” Unfortunately, this system may lead kids in this age group to think that accidents or injuries they experience are a result of them being bad (Perry et al., 2017). It is important for you to talk to your child about why they are being rewarded or punished. It is also crucial to let your little one know that no one is to blame when accidents such as falling off a bike happens (Perry et al., 2017). By having honest, nonjudgmental, and open conversations with your child about discipline, you are fostering a bond of trust between you and your son or daughter (Austin & Boyd, 2015). Your child will carry this trust and shared information with them in later years of life as well (National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health & First Nations Health Authority, 2013b). Thus, this web page will provide you with tips on how you can speak to your child about accidents, rewards, and punishments. You will also learn about healthy ways you can reward and discipline your child.

    URL: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/mindful_discipline_shauna_shapiro


    How to Practice Self-Regulation

    Lotus Blue

    Self-regulation can be defined in various ways. In the most basic sense, it involves controlling one’s behavior, emotions, and thoughts in the pursuit of long-term goals. More specifically, emotional self-regulation refers to the ability to manage disruptive emotions and impulses. In other words, to think before acting. It also reflects the ability to cheer yourself up after disappointments and to act in a way consistent with your deepest held values.

    URL: https://www.verywellmind.com/how-you-can-practice-self-regulation-4163536


    Self Care – why it’s the first step to Mindful Parenting

    Lotus Blue

    Parenting is never an easy task. Parents might make mistakes sometimes and that’s okay! No parent is perfect. The video displayed on this page will help you learn to bask in the present moment and forgive yourself. This page will also focus on self-care as well. Parenting can be stressful in itself; couple it with finances, meal preparation, and work responsibilities, and you are looking at high levels of stress! A build-up of stress without any efforts of its relief can lead to burnout, an emotional explosion, or a perception that the usual fun stuff is now a chore (Roberts, 2017).

    URL: http://www.mindfulparentinguae.net/single-post/2016/03/02/Self-Care-why-its-the-first-step-to-Mindful-Parenting


    References

    Army Medicine. (2014). Being Healthy is Beautiful. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/armymedicine/13584554804

    Austin, W., & Boyd, M. (2015). Psychiatric & mental health nursing for Canadian practice (3rd Ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018). Picky Eaters and What to Do. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/InfantandToddlerNutrition/foods-and-drinks/picky-eaters.html

    Gavin, M.L. (2015). Kids and Food: 10 Tips for Parents. Retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/eating-tips.html

    Hyra, A. (2015). Strengthening Literacy and Father-Child Relationships through Reading [PDF Document]. Retrieved from National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse Website: https://www.fatherhood.gov/sites/default/files/webinar/slides/nrfc_webinar_slides_july_2015_final_508c.pdf

    Josealbafotos. (2014). Girl Family Path. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/girl-family-path-child-mother-1077334/

    Miller, M. & Stoeckel, P. (2019). Client education: Theory and Practice (3rd Ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

    National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health & First Nations Health Authority. (2013a). Family Connections. West Vancouver: Author.

    National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health & First Nations Health Authority. (2013b). A Child Becomes Strong: Journeying Through Each Stage of the Life Cycle. West Vancouver: Author.

    Perry, S. E., Hockenberry, M. J., Lowdermilk, D. L., Wilson, D., Keenan-Lindsay, L., & Sams, C. A. (2017). Maternal child nursing care in Canada (2nd Ed.). Toronto, ON: Elsevier Canada.

    Praneshm. (2014). Teddy Bear. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/teddy-bear-toy-cute-childhood-1562420/

    Raising Children (Australia) Network Limited. (2017). Parent technology use: being a role model. Retrieved from https://raisingchildren.net.au/grown-ups/family-life/media-technology/parent-technology-use

    Roberts, L. (2017, January 24). Why self-care is an important part of parenting, and how to make time for it. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/on-parenting/in-defense-of-a-parents-day-off/2017/01/23/270ffafc-d8f2-11e6-b8b2-cb5164beba6b_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.e2be3f92c0cd

    Rosario, S. (2015). Parents and their kids cook healthy and tasty meals. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Parents_and_their_kids_cook_healthy_and_tasty_meals_150321-A-ZT122-110.jpg

    Rossi, S. (2007). Breathe. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/shawnzlea/866110617

    Sheridan, C.B. (2016). The mindful nurse: using the power of mindfulness and compassion to help you thrive in your work. Lexington, KY: Rivertime Press.

    Skeeze. (2015). Family Eating at the Table. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/family-eating-at-the-table-dining-619142/

    Weller, S. (2017). 7 Tips to Make Mealtimes Less Stressful. Retrieved from https://blog.cincinnatichildrens.org/healthy-living/child-development-and-behavior/7-tips-to-make-mealtimes-less-stressful/


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      Mindfulness for Parents of Young School-aged Children II

      Mindful Family
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        by Cherrie Lo

        Introduction

        Mindful father

        In Canada, children enter elementary school at the age 5 or 6, where they may start to learn independence and gain responsibilities (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2015). During this time, some children may find friendship more important than relationships with their parents, and spend more time on social activities (Stanford Children’s Health, n.d.). Social experiences from outside the family may change the family dynamic, as well as the parent-child relationship. Through practicing mindfulness, parents of young, school-aged children can learn to be “present” in their parenting – giving their full attention to their children, and recognizing both challenging and rewarding moments (Marlowe, n.d.). Mindfulness is defined as “the ability to be fully present and attentive in the moment” (Sheridan, 2016, p. 29). Mindfulness is not just a spiritual tradition, it is scientifically proven to reduce stress, burnout, and anxiety. In this blog, a couple of mindfulness exercises are described for parents to try and experiment with.

        Mindful parent

        Exercise 1: Daily Mindfulness

        While parents may find young school-aged children spending less time with them, there are different mindfulness exercises which allow parents and children to spend time together and bring awareness to the present moment. One mindfulness exercise is “being present with your child” (Marlowe, n.d.). This requires parents to choose a daily interaction with their child and be fully mindful during the entire interaction. For young school-aged children, daily interactions can include walking to school, playing table games, playing oral spelling games and preparing simple meals (Perry et al., 2017). It is important for parents to focus less on other thoughts such as work and chores, and fully participate and be mindful during the daily interaction (Marlowe, n.d.). If the parents’ thoughts start to wander, they should try to let those thoughts be, then reconnect to the present again.

        Mindful with children

        Here are a few questions parents can reflect on in order to recognize the importance of being mindful in daily interaction with their children (Marlowe, n.d.):

        1. How do the daily interactions with your child differ when you are being mindful? For example, do you enjoy the walking your child to school more?
        2. What do you tend to think about when you lose focus while trying to be mindful during daily interactions with your child? What are some ways you can keep from being distracted?
        3. How does being mindful during the daily interaction benefit your relationship with your child?
        4. Could you list at least one way to become more mindful during the daily interaction with your child?

        Repetitive interactions like walking to school may become a daily routine or task for parents. However, these experiences compose an important part of their relationship with their children. Parents should practice being present with their children to “experience these little moments as precious moments” (Marlowe, n.d.).

        Exercise 2: Mindful of the Good Times

        Mindful father

        As young children gain independence, they may start to reject the parents’ ideas or companionship (Perry et al., 2017). For example, children at 6 years old may start to have strong food preferences and refuse certain food items, and children at the age of 7 may spend more time with peers instead of with family. Some parents may experience rejections from their children and feel hurt.

        One mindfulness exercise is “reflecting on positive moments with our children” (Marlowe, n.d.). Instead of thinking about the moments where they were rejected by their children, parents can focus on the happy and positive experiences with the children. For example, the joyful conversation while walking the children to school and while preparing meals, or some funny moments while playing table games and oral spelling games with the children. Parents of young school-aged children can take five minutes and reflect at the end of each day (Marlowe, n.d.). For parents who have been through a rough day, they can try setting an alarm before bedtime reminding themselves to spend five to ten minutes on thinking about a joyful moment or two with their children. If parents have trouble thinking of a positive moment, they could think of things that they appreciate about their children instead,

        Exercise 3: Mindful Yoga

        Taking care of a young school-aged child, such as meal prepping and studying with the child is time consuming and hard work for parents. Parents can practice yoga to bring a peace of mind to themselves at the end of the day, or to provide a morning burst of energy at the beginning of the day. Yoga is a mindfulness practice to help bring awareness into the present by focusing on the bodily sensations (Woodyard, 2011.). There are different types of yoga such as hatha, vinyasa, and yin, and each involves different movements and dynamics. I particularly like the smoothness of vinyasa yoga, also called vinyasa flow, where yoga poses are connected to each other like dancing. Vinyasa yoga is a moving meditation that does not only benefit mental health, but can also improve physical health (Cespedes, 2018). Some studies have found that vinyasa yoga can improve sleep, reduce stress, strengthen muscles and reduce excess weight.

        Mindful Yoga

        Vinyasa yoga often starts with breathing regulation, such as Ujjayi Pranayama, an ocean sounding breathing through the nose which is demonstrated in the video below. The following is an example of a vinyasa flow which consists of three different yoga poses (Pizer, 2018): the Plank, Cobra, and Downward Facing Dog.

        Plank Pose

        Begin this routine by assuming the Plank Pose.

        Plank Yoga Pose

        Cobra Pose


        From the plank pose, lower your knees and chest to the ground to achieve the cobra pose.

        Cobra pose
        Cobra pose

        Downward Facing Dog

        From the cobra pose, use the strength of your back to lift your body off the ground to achieve the Downward Facing Dog pose. Repeat step one to three for a vinyasa flow.

        Downward Facing Do

        These poses should be synchronized with deep, steady breathing. However, parents who are beginners at yoga may find it difficult to do so. Instead, they could start the regulated breathing whenever they find losing the breathing pattern.

        Mindfulness Technique Video

        Check out the mindfulness technique video on yoga breath regulation:

        Video created by Cherrie Lo
        2 mins, November 2018

        Summary

        Mindful family

        The three mindfulness exercises allow parents of young school-aged children to be “present” during parenting moments. The first two exercises, “being present with your child” and “reflecting on positive moments with our children” improve parent-children bonding as well. A common advantage of these exercises is that they do not require any special location or venues, and can be practiced anywhere and at anytime. Moreover, parents can practice the first two exercises while carrying out their daily tasks with their children, which does not take any extra time out of an already full schedule. Before or after a busy day of work and after taking care of the children, parents can take 10 minutes to practice the third mindfulness exercise – yoga – or do the routine with them. Just a 10-minute session of meditation is found to be associated with lowered blood pressure and daily heart rate, and “reduced heart rate can be a sign of reduced stress” (Cespedes, 2017).

        Mindful Parenting Resources

        Parent Support Services Society of BC

        The Parent Support Services Society of BC, a provincial charitable organization, aims to promote wellbeing of both children and parents, as well as to “build support, advocacy, education, research, and resources” in their communities. One support service which can be beneficial for parents of young school-aged children is “parenting education”. This includes workshops and events that provide information to address problems in relationships, finances, child-rearing among parents. For example, there are workshops which educate parents about Registered Educations Saving Plan and when, why and how to talk to the children about sexual health.

        URL: https://www.parentsupportbc.ca/


        The BC Association of Family Resource Programs

        The BC Association of Family Resource Programs (FRP-BC) supports healthy family development through family-centred programs. The five core service areas of FRP-BC are “family support, play-based learning, early learning and literacy, parent education and, information and referrals”. It collaborates with community-based centres to provide services and resources. For instance, FRP-BC houses the Abbotsford Family Centre – The Parenting Place, providing services such as the “Father Involvement Program” and “Young Parent Program”. These parenting-programs are usually for parents of children up to six years old.

        URL: http://www.frpbc.ca/


        Spirit of the Children Society

        The Spirit of the Children Society is an Indigenous non-profit organization that supports and provides resources to families in Burnaby, New Westminster, and Tri-Cities. The unique cultural values and beliefs in Indigenous children and parents are considered in this organization, providing safe and respectful environment for the service users. Parents of young school-aged children can benefit from programs and services such as the “Aboriginal Family Housing Support”, “Family Strengthening Program” and “Traditional Aboriginal Parents Program (TAPP)”. For instance, TAPP applies the Medicine Wheel in teachings to encourage personal healing in parents over a course of 11 weeks. These teachings include stress management, child development, and discipline.

        URL: https://www.sotcs.ca/programsservices/traditional-aboriginal-parents-program-tapp/


        Smiling Mind APP

        The Smiling Mind is an app developed by psychologists and educators to promote mindfulness in both parents and children. It sets daily meditation reminders for the user, and provides guided meditation and mindfulness techniques. An example of guided meditation is “body scan”, guiding the users through audio to be aware of bodily sensations, and to relieve tension. The APP features a “10 minutes a day is all you need” to see the benefits in improving mental health. Moreover, all guided meditation and mindfulness are tailored to the specific population, such as parents and children.

        URL: https://www.smilingmind.com.au/smiling-mind-app


        Raising Children Network

        The Raising Children Network is a parenting website, supported by the Australian Government, which provides information on the growth and development of children at different stages. This specific URL from Raising Children Network focuses on children of five to six years old. It breaks down child development into different categories such as playing and learning, feelings and thinking, allowing parents to help their child to grow healthy according to the developmental stages. In addition, the website educates parents about when to be concerned about the child’s development at this age period. Throughout the webpage, there are underlined phrases that prompts readers to click on for further details. For example, parents can click on “looking after yourself” in the “parenting a school-age child” section for tips to balance personal life.

        URL: https://raisingchildren.net.au/school-age/development/development-tracker/5-6-years


        References

        American Academy of Pediatrics. (2015). Parenting School-Age Children. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/Pages/Parenting-School-Age-Children.aspx

        Cespedes, A. (2017). Meditation and Heart Rate. Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/ article/249472-meditation-and-heart-rate/?ajax=1&is=1

        Cespedes, A. (2018). What Are the Benefits of Vinyasa Yoga? Retrieved from https://www. livestrong.com/article/332693-what-are-the-benefits-of-vinyasa-yoga/

        Marlowe, S. (n.d.). Mindful Parenting. Mindful Families. Retrieved from http://www.mindfulfamilies.ca/ index.php/mindful-families/mindful-parenting/mindful-parenting-home

        Perry, S. E., Hockenberry, M. J., Lowdermilk, D. L., Wilson, D., Keenan-Lindsay, L., & Sams, C. A. (2017). Maternal Child Nursing Care in Canada (2nd ed.). Toronto, ON: Elsevier Canada.

        Saoji, A. A., Raghavendra, B., & Manjunath, N. (2018). Effects of yogic breath regulation: A narrative review of scientific evidence. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. doi:10.1016/j.jaim.2017.07.008

        Sheridan, C. (2016). The mindful nurse: using the power of mindfulness and compassion to help you thrive in your work (1st ed.). Lexington, KY: Rivertime Press.

        Stanford Children’s Health. (n.d.). The Growing Child: School-Age (6 to 12 Years). Retrieved from https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=the-growing-child-school-age-6-to-12-years-90-P02278

        Pizer, A. (2018). Introduction to Vinyasa Flow Yoga. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfit. com/introduction-to-vinyasa-flow-yoga-4143120

        Woodyard, C. (2011). Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. International journal of yoga, 4(2), 49-54.

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          Mindfulness for Young School-aged Children

          Mindful child
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            By MacLean Myers and Michelle MacMaster

            When we teach mindfulness to children, we share with them ways to cope with life’s challenging moments. The earlier we do this, the better the opportunity to help them demonstrate resilience as they grow.

            In a world of rapid change, young children have to navigate a variety of unique social and emotional challenges (Calm Schools Initiative, 2016). As much as parents feel the worry involved with making the best choices for their child, exposure to often violent and negative media, and a general sense of feeling rushed, developing minds are all the more sensitive to potential stressors. Young children are learning how to manage all of their emotions and figuring out how to make important choices. They are learning how to show kindness to themselves and others, all while adjusting with going to school, making new friends, and learning new skills. Incorporating and developing what is known as mindfulness can give kids the tools to help them along their path (Verde, 2017).

            Mindfulness

            Mindfulness is not a new concept, and it is experienced by us all on a daily basis. For example, when we take a deep breath to calm ourselves, when we slowly savour our food and appreciate its complex tastes. When we walk along a beach and feel the sand between our toes, or when we truly try to listen to what some else is telling use, we are being mindful. However, what if we tried to practice these skills? What if our children developed these habits at an early age?

            Mindfulness

            Mindfulness is being fully present and attentive in the moment, when we are aware of our current experiences, and choose to focus on what we feel, see, hear, and think (Sheridan, 2016). By purposefully giving our attention to the here and now, we can hold back on our common feelings of worry and judgment. There is a growing amount of scientific evidence the shows the positive effects that mindfulness can have on the brain and body, especially in young children. Research has demonstrated that mindfulness practice positively helps kids control their emotions, make decisions, and be empathetic towards others (Calm Schools Initiative, 2016). Learning mindfulness exercises can not only improve a child’s attention, but it also helps to separate their thoughts and feelings from themselves (Verde, 2017). This ability can be essential in helping a child to choose their responses rather than simply react.

            Mindful Child

            It is wonderful to think of a world where children can better understand themselves and grow up with improved kindness and compassion. By learning to pause and find calm, through mindfulness teachings, kids can develop a lifelong appreciation for self-awareness, patience, and resilience (Calm Schools Initiative, 2016).

            PRACTICAL TIPS

            So, when is the right time to practice mindfulness? You can practice mindfulness anytime however if you want to have a schedule, you can practice mindfulness:

            • Before getting out of bed
            • Before class starts
            • After lunch
            • Before class ends
            • Before going to bed
            Mindful Kids

            Remember for ages 5-7, keep it simple! Beach (2017) suggested that mindfulness is noticing our thoughts, what our body feels like, what our ears are hearing, and anything else that is around us and happening right now.


            What kind of mindfulness activities are there to practice? There are many mindfulness activities you can practice. Find something that you like!

            Mindful child
            • Meditation – great for calming your feelings, focus on feelings the ‘here and now’ (Burnett, 2018).
            • Yoga – helps you stretch your body, rest your mind and focus on breathing (Burnett, 2018).
            • Deep breathing – focus on caring, feeling, connecting and meltdown.
            • Body Scanning – focus on relieving tension and stress, can do this before sleeping.
            • Mindful walk – this can be done anytime, while you are walking with your child, try to remind them to take deep breathes and feel the air entering through their nose, ask them what they smell and pay attention to the path they are walking on.
            Mindful school

            TRY THESE!

            SPIDEY SENSES

            SPIDEY SENSES

            Spidey Senses is a fun mindfulness exercise that caters to young children.

            • Tools – a poster of the 5 senses
            The five senses
            • Method – ask your child to switch senses up to a superpower level just like Spiderman. They can stay in this state for 2-3 minutes. Ask them the following (Cassie, 2018):

            What can you hear?
            What can you see?
            What can you taste?
            What can you smell?
            What can you feel?

            To extend this exercise to children 7 years of age make it a 5 Sense countdown; this can be used to help calm a busy mind (Cassie, 2018). This activity takes about 5 minutes. Ask them to think of:

            5 things you can see,
            4 things you can touch,
            3 things you can hear,
            2 things you can smell and,
            1 thing you can taste

            (Cassie, 2018)
            Happy children

            SHARK FIN

            Shark Fin is a fantastic activity that children can use to help them calm their minds and bodies even when they are not ready to do so (Cassie, 2018). This activity is about 5 minutes long and requires no tools or supplies.

            Shark Fin

            Method – Get the child to find a place to sit down or if they are standing ensure that they are in a safe area. Guide the child to:

            • Place their side of their hand on their forehead, with palm facing out to the side,
            • Ensure their eyes are close and guide them to:
            • Slide your hand down your face, in front of your nose,
            • Say “shhh” as you slide your hand down your face
            • Repeat this 5 times
            • If you are sitting down, you do the 5 S’s while you move your hand: Sit up straight, sit still, sit silently, soft breathing, shut eyes while doing this.
            • o If you are standing do the same but you are standing straight, still, silently, using soft breathing and shut eyes while you move your hand down your face (Cassie, 2018).
            Mindful boys

            These are two mindfulness activities that the child can do on their own or through guided help. The wonderful thing about these two activities is the child uses their own body and mind to help them calm down (Gerszberg, 2018). They can do the Spidey Senses and the Shark Fin mindfulness activity while they are in school or at home. Anytime they feel they are getting frustrated, sad, angry and silly, these activities help them to focus and pay attention to their own senses or feelings. The child can start with Shark Fin mindfulness when they feel they are easily distracted especially when they are in school. The Spidey Senses is great to incorporate with children showing signs of increasing inattentiveness.

            Try Our Quick Guided Breathing Video

            Video created by 
            Michelle MacMaster and MacLean Myers
            2 mins, November 2018

            Mindful Child Resources

            Common Sense Media

            Provides lists of the various meditation apps children can use to help them be mindful, focus and calm. Parents will need to subscribe and pay for some of the apps to get access however there are some apps that are free.

            URL: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/meditation-apps-for-kids


            Cosmic Kids

            Provides children and parents with tips and strategies of mindfulness activities they can initiate at home. Children can use their creativity using some of the things found at home such as a cereal box and mason jar. The website offers videos, blog and ideas and other resources also for meditations. No subscription required.

            URL: https://www.cosmickids.com/mindfulness-activities-kids/


            Kids’ Stuff World

            Offers insightful awareness of the benefits of living life mindfully. This resource has 10 mindfulness exercises: children can practice with mindful smelling; breathing buddies; active listening and a gratitude habit. No subscription required.

            URL: http://kidsstuffworld.com/2015/04/10-mindfulness-exercises-to-do-with-your-kids/


            Headspace

            Offers meditation for kids. It highlights 5 themes for kids to pay attention to such as calm, focus, kindness, sleep and wake up. To access this resource the parent/child needs to sign up or subscribe (for free) to get the full benefits it offers.

            URL: https://www.headspace.com/meditation/kids


            Left Brain Buddha

            Offers various tips and strategies for parents. For example, the mindful mantras for kids. The website has lessons and colouring sheets, calming phrases for children to use when they need to deal with their anger, nervousness, or frustration. No subscription needed as its free. The lessons plan and colouring sheets are easily downloadable and printable.

            URL: https://leftbrainbuddha.com/mindful-mantras-for-kids/


            I Am Peace- A Book of Mindfulness by Susan Verde

            A wonderful addition to a series aimed at young readers that includes I Am Yoga and I Am Human, I Am Peace is a gentle and helpful tool for cultivating kid mindfulness. Beautifully illustrated, vignettes of the child grounding himself in the sand, feeding birds, and meditating beneath a magically sprouting tree help to reinforce the message of presence, self-awareness, and compassion. With an easily read narrative the key components of mindfulness are presented, encouraging children to breath, taste, smell, and be present to the here and now. Included in the end of the story is a practical guided meditation example that could easily be incorporated by parents.

            URL: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34324424-i-am-peace


            Calm app

            The mission at Calm is to make the world a happier and healthier place, and their meditation and mindfulness app is consistently top rated in this category. The app blends an extensive library of guided mediation, daily calm activities, and sleep stories, with purposefully chosen music and images to promote relaxation and presence. What makes the use of this tool particularly appealing is its usability among any age group. Not only could the app help promote mindfulness habits in parents, but there are specific guides and activities geared towards young children. In fact, Calm feels so strongly about the incorporation of mindfulness at a young age, that they have developed The Calm Schools Initiative. They have a goal of providing free mindfulness training tools and app access to all teachers in the world, so even if parents do not want to pay for the app, they can promote the idea to their child’s teacher.


            URL: https://www.calm.com/


            Zenergy Chime and Hoberman’s Sphere

            Although specific tools do not need to be purchased in order to effectively practice mindfulness, there are tools available that have received positive reviews for their ability to help promote mindfulness in young children.

            Zenergy Chime- With a single tap of the mallet this crime produces powerful and resonating sound, allowing kids to redirect and focus their attention to their sense of the surrounding sound. The sounds lasts for an extended period, allowing time to take deep breaths, listen, relax, and refocus. Sounds like this are often used in meditation and mindfulness practice, and this tool provides a quick resource that can enhance mindful practice.

            Hoberman’s Sphere– Not a new toy by any means, this expandable ball is gaining a resurgence as a popular mindfulness tool throughout classrooms. This geodesic dome can be expanded and folded in and can be used to provide a great visual component to breathing activities. Often referred to as the breath ball, it can mimic the movements of breathing through the sphere’s movements.

            URL: https://www.amazon.ca/John-N-Hansen-Hoberman-Sphere-Rings/dp/B0000E6I1F/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1543623830&sr=8-1&keywords=hoberman+sphere


            Mindup

            Although initially designed to be incorporated into K-2 classroom curriculum, MindUp has also created brain focused strategies and mindful learning to be engaged with at home. The program has a variety of lessons with well explained activities that are easy to use by parents helping to improve resiliency in children and promote healthy dialogue among family members. Strategies are well backed by current research and it gives parents the tools that it takes to help raise children with compassion, the ability to self-regulate, and foster a positive mind set in life.

            URL: https://mindup.org/


            Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn

            The resources above are mainly directed for parents to support their kids on the journey to improved mindfulness. However, helping your child in this process can only be improved with a richer understanding of mindfulness yourself. There are no shortage of effective writings on the topic, but this one by Jon Kabat-Zinn provides a solid base for mapping out a simple path for developing mindfulness in one’s self.

            URL: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14096.Wherever_You_Go_There_You_Are


            References

            Beach, S. R. (2017, June 28). 10 Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Kids. Retrieved November 29, 2018, from https://leftbrainbuddha.com/10-ways-teach-mindfulness-to-kids/

            Burnett, C. (2018, July 26). Mindfulness for Kids: 9 Apps to Help Them Be Calm, Focused and Relaxed. Retrieved November 29, 2018, from https://childhood101.com/mindfulness-for-kids/

            Calm (2016). Calm Schools Initiative [PDF file]. Retrieved from http://cdn.calm.com/documents/teachers-onboarding-manual.pdf

            Cassie. (2018, April 30). Mindfulness for Children: 5 Minute Classroom Mindfulness Activities [Blog post]. Retrieved November 29, 2018, from https://www.teachstarter.com/blog/classroom-mindfulness-activities-for-children/

            Gerszberg, C. O. (2018). The Future of Education: Mindful Classrooms. Retrieved November 29, 2018, from https://www.mindful.org/mindfulness-in-education/

            Pixabay [Mindfulness Images]. (n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2018 from https://pixabay.com/en/photos/meditation%20mindfulness/?

            Sheridan, C. (2016). The Mindful Nurse: Using the Power of Mindfulness and Compassion to Help You Thrive in Your Work. Charleston, SC: Rivertime Press.

            Verde, S. (2017). I Am Peace A Book of Mindfulness. New York, NY: Harry N Abrams.



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