Mindfulness for Parents of Older School-aged Children I

Mindful family
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    By Annie McLean

    Mindful Parenting of Children Ages 8-11

    Mindfulness is defined as the ability to be present in the moment. The practice of mindfulness involves paying attention to what is going on around you, as well as what is going on within you (Sheridan, 2016). Accepting your own thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and experiences as they come and go throughout your day is practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is purposeful and takes practice.

    Pause

    As a parent of a child aged 8-11, mindfulness probably does not come easily. You are involved in your child’s life and have a lot of responsibilities on your plate. Your child is physically active and developing his or her motor skills every day (Perry, Hockenberry, Lowdermilk & Wilson, 2017). Your child learns quickly at school, may enjoy reading and writing, and has preferences for stories and information about adventure, romance, science fiction, or fantasy. He or she knows how to understand time and dates, is able to classify objects, can do puzzles and understands that volumes of liquid are conserved, no matter which container the volume is poured into. Your child keeps you busy with being involved in household tasks, taking lessons, and is probably coming up with new ideas, games, and projects all the time.

    Breathe

    Your child’s social skills are blossoming, and he or she may now be more self-critical than ever before (Perry et al., 2017). As a parent, you can practice mindfulness when your child is feeling poorly about him or herself and be careful not to let your own negative thoughts be verbalized, as they may come off as judgement towards your child (Sheridan, 2016). When listening to your child, accept your own thoughts and emotions as they come, and receive those thoughts, not trying to change them. You can teach your child to practice mindfulness in this scenario, and help them learn to accept their emotions, thoughts and experiences, even when they are unwanted. Together with your child, you can be present and aware of the moment, and not focused on what can be done to fix it or “move on” (Sheridan, 2016).

    Mindful parenting

    Mindful Presence

    Mindful Presence

    One exercise you can try with your child to help develop your mindfulness skills is to practice mindful presence (Sheridan, 2016). Similarly, to how you practice mindfulness when your child is feeling critical of him or herself, you can practice mindful presence in everyday activities. Choose an activity that you do with your child regularly, such as walking to school, doing homework with them, or putting them to bed (Marlowe, 2013). Focus on this experience with your child and attend to any feelings you have of being in a hurry, not forcing the feelings to go away, but realizing that they are there (Sheridan, 2016). Take a couple of deep breaths, and intentionally interact with your child (Marlowe, 2013). Picture this interaction like an opportunity for connection, instead of a routine task that is done every day. Notice when your mind wanders to other thoughts, such as tasks to get done that day, and gently bring your thoughts back to this interaction with your child (Sheridan, 2016).

    Loving kindness

    As your child is developing his or her identity during these years, he or she desires to be loved unconditionally, and looks to parents for affirmation (Perry et al., 2017). Your child understands rules and boundaries and wants to please his or her parent by doing the right thing. Although he or she may be spending more time with friends, and may sometimes push your boundaries, your child still yearns to be a part of your family and needs you to be a stable person in their life. By showing your child compassion, kindness and love, you can increase your own empathy for others, and promote a loving relationship between you and your child (Sheridan, 2016).

    Loving-Kindness Meditation

    Loving-Kindness Meditation

    Loving-kindness meditation is a mindfulness practice that you can practice for yourself and for your child (Marlowe, 2013). To begin this exercise with yourself, picture your own self standing in front of you (Sheridan, 2016). Take a couple of deep breaths. Allow thoughts of well wishes to come into your mind, as if you are saying them to someone else. Tell your “self” that you wish them happiness, health, and peace, by saying or thinking these phrases: “May I be happy.” “May I be healthy.” “May I be at peace.” (Sheridan, 2016; Marlowe, 2013). You can use different phrases for different wishes that come to your mind (Sheridan, 2016). Do not worry if you find this exercise challenging but persevere and continue repeating these phrases through this exercise.

    Loving-Kindness Meditation

    To begin this exercise for your child, picture your child standing in front of you in a time where you felt connected to them and proud of them (Marlowe, 2013). Allow thoughts of well wishes for your child to flood your mind and think or say similar phrases to when you did this exercise for yourself: “May you be happy.” “May you be healthy.” “May you be at peace.” Accept any negative thoughts that come into your mind during this exercise and bring your thoughts back to the same loving-kindness phrases (Sheridan, 2016). You can further this exercise by picturing your child in front of you at a time when you were not as happy with them, such as when you felt disappointed, angry or sad with their behaviour (Marlowe, 2013). Repeat this process, and think or say the phrases again, picturing yourself being gentle and loving towards them, despite the conflict you may feel. You can also extend this exercise towards other people in your life that you may have conflict with, or do not know well (Sheridan, 2016). You may choose someone who serves you coffee every day, your child’s school-teacher, or a coworker. Loving-kindness meditation can be done every day to help you be gentle and kind with yourself, and help you sustain compassion for your child, especially through the stressful and challenging times.

    View My Loving Kindness Meditation Video

    Video created by Annie McLean
    2:14 mins, November 2018
    Made in Adobe Spark Video

    Mindful Parent Resources

    Foundation For A Mindful Society

    Lotus Blue

    This website helps parents understand what mindfulness is, how to practice it daily, and provides practical mindfulness exercises that parents can try. Audio recordings are given for parents to follow to carry out mindfulness and meditation exercises at home, and other resources including apps are listed. The magazine called “Mindful” can be subscribed to through this website. Parents can also read articles pertaining to mindfulness in regard to parenting, such as at the link: https://www.mindful.org/mindful-parenting-may-keep-kids-trouble/.

    URL: https://www.mindful.org/


    Mindful Families

    Lotus Blue

    This website provides education about mindfulness in relation to family. Parents can find helpful articles and read about other parents’ experiences using mindfulness here. Parents can search through resources, such as songs, stories and exercises to help their children learn mindfulness as well. If parents live in Toronto, they can also find workshops in their area through this website.

    URL: http://www.mindfulfamilies.ca/


    Mindspace Clinic

    Lotus Blue

    This clinic is located in Quebec (3 locations) and focuses on mindfulness as a basis for psychotherapy. The clinic provides various therapies led by psychologists and coaches that help people learn mindfulness. They also provide workshops, programs, professional training, and group classes that promote mindfulness in everyday life. Parents can find an interesting, helpful article through this website that relates mindfulness to life as a parent at the link: http://mindspaceclinic.com/11-tips-mindful-parenting/.

    URL: https://www.mindspacewellbeing.com


    Child Mind Institute Inc.

    Lotus Blue

    This website can help parents learn about various psychological problems and actual diagnoses that school aged children often face, such as anxiety, OCD, sensory processing disorder, depression, bipolar disorders, autism, and many more. Parents can learn about mindfulness and how it can help their children and themselves, through the “Mindfulness” area of the website, which can be found at the link: https://childmind.org/topics/concerns/mindfulness/. An article specific to parents themselves can be found at: https://childmind.org/article/mindful-parenting-2/.

    URL: https://childmind.org


    Parent Support Services of BC

    Lotus Blue

    This website is based in BC and includes resources such as workshops and seminars (some of them are free) that parents can attend all over BC. Parents can look up their particular region and find the resources local to them at this link: https://www.parentsupportbc.ca/in-your-region/. Parents can also sign up to receive a newsletter in their email with updates and interesting information about parenting.

    URL: https://www.parentsupportbc.ca/parenting-education/


    References

    Marlowe, S. (2013). Mindful practices for parents. MindfulFamilies.ca. Retrieved from http://www.mindfulfamilies.ca/index.php/mindful-families/mindful-parenting/practices-for-mindful-parenting


    Perry, S., Hockenberry, M., Lowdermilk, D. & Wilson, D. (2017). Maternal Child Nursing in Canada. 2nd edition. Toronto: Elsevier (Mosby).


    Sheridan, C. (2016). The Mindful Nurse: Using the Power of Mindfulness and Compassion to Help You Thrive in Your Work. Charleston, SC: Rivertime Press. ISBN: 978-0-9933245-2-9.

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      Mindfulness for Parents of Older School-aged Children II

      Mindful Family
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        By Gurneet Tatla

        Older School-aged Children

        What is Mindfulness?

        Mindfulness

        Parenting is a wonderful mix of joy, worry, laughter, stress, play, frustration, chaos and everything in between (Marlowe, 2013). Mindfulness is a technique parents can use to detach themselves from the craziness of the outside world to focus on their feelings in the present moment (Sheridan, 2016). Creating moments of complete awareness can be a challenge for parents of older school aged children, aged 8 to 11 due to their biological, psychosocial, and cognitive growth and developmental changes (Perry, Hockenberry, Lowdermilk, & Wilson, 2013). Therefore, parents must pay attention to these factors because it influences their children’s health and well-being. Even though parenting children ages 8 to 11 can be challenging, it can also be hugely rewarding because parents can watch their children grow up and guide them through new experiences. Mindful parenting isn’t about being the “perfect parent” but being present in the parenting process, with all it’s ups and downs (Marlowe, 2013). Through mindfulness techniques such as meditation, breath awareness, body scan, and many more, parents can learn to be more present in their everyday lives (Marlowe, 2013; Sheridan, 2016). It can also enhance parents’ connection with their children (Marlowe, 2013). Mindfulness is something a parent can do on their own or with their family as a bonding experience.

        About Children

        Parents of school aged children aged 8 to 11 will always be faced with challenges. Oftentimes, children can be the source of a challenge. That’s why it’s important to understand their growth and developmental milestones to paint a vivid picture of their general strengths and limitations, and how they are likely to understand and relate to their world. Understanding biological, psychosocial, and cognitive milestones and achievements enables parents to adjust how they care for and support children to best prepare them to become successful and fulfilled in their lives (Perry et al., 2013).

        About Children

        Biological Development

        • Growth in height and weight begin slowly
        • Continue to build on and improve gross motor skills; the large-scale body movement skills such as walking and running that they first learned during earlier developmental stages
        • Physical maturation of systems begins to develop
        • 10-year old’s who look physically younger do not want to be treated as though they were younger; this can be a disservice to them
        • Beginning to develop competence and self esteem
        • Prepubescence begins in later school aged childhood years (Morelli & Dombeck, 2018; Perry et al., 2013)


        Biological Development

        Psychosocial Development

        • Make great strides in terms of their ability to recognize emotions in themselves and others, control their own emotions, and communicate about emotions, both expressively and with language
        • They gain satisfaction from exploring their environment and from interaction with peers
        • Develop a sense of industry (sense of accomplishment)
        • Want to develop skills and participate in meaningful and socially useful work
        • Are becoming useful, contributing members of their social communities
        • Reinforcement in the form of material rewards, privileges, and recognition provides encouragement and stimulation
        • Want adults to give them skills they can work at, learn from, and try to master (Morelli & Dombeck, 2018; Perry et al., 2013)
        Psychosocial Development

        Cognitive Development

        Cognitive Development
        • “Concrete operations-” when school-aged children from ages 8 to 11 can use thought process to experience events and actions
        • Starting to develop a relationship between things and ideas
        • Beginning to develop classification skills and can group and sort objects
        • Beginning to develop and understand relational terms and concepts
        • Older school aged children (10-11) come to understand cause-and-effect relationships and become adept at mathematics and science
        • The capacity to explore and expand their knowledge is enhanced by reading and writing (Morelli & Dombeck, 2018; Perry et al., 2013)

        Being a Mindful Parent

        Parenting often provides daily challenging experiences. For example, everyone is buckled in the car and ready to go to school and one child states they need to go back inside to use the washroom. After driving for 3-5 minutes, another child points out they forgot their lunch at home. At this point, the parent is running late, and their anxiety level is increasing. Although in the big picture these events are minor, they still cause frustration. Practicing mindfulness exercises will help parents live in the present moment and remain peaceful and relaxed (Sheridan, 2016). It will help reduce anxiety levels and help enhance concentration (Marlowe, 2013).

        Being a Mindful Parent

        Here’s a mindfulness exercise guide for parents to develop the skills needed to handle stressful situations with older school-aged children, aged 8 to 11:

        • With your busy schedules and high stress jobs, it’s easy to lose sight of your children’s experience. Try to look at the world from the point of view of your child. Try to do this everyday and let go of your own point of view for a few minutes.

        • Listen carefully by focusing without distractions such as TV, social media, and phones. Be fully engaged as you listen to the stories your child shares with you.

        • Attempt to see your child as perfect just as they are. Accept them even when it’s difficult. At the end of the day, invite yourself to reflect on a positive moment that you had with your child. Even it has been a particularly challenging day, recall a pleasant moment that you had with your child or reflect on something that you appreciated about your child.

        • Focus on what your expectations are for your child and how you communicate those expectations. Do you have their best interest in mind?

        • Take a mindful walk. While paying attention to your breathing and the way the ground feels under your feet, observe your surroundings. Listen for sounds you typically overlook such as leaves rustling or a pine cone falling from a tree. Let stressful thoughts go and focus on the sights, smells and feelings in the present moment. Although nature is relaxing, a mindful walk can occur anywhere, even a busy street or mall.

        Take a mindful walk

        Focus on your Breathing

        Find a comfortable and stable posture either sitting or lying on your back. Allow your back to be straight but not rigid. Let your arms and hands rest in a relaxed position. Close your eyes.

        Just Breathe

        Bring your attention to the present moment by noticing how you’re feeling physically. Scan your body from head to toe and consciously try to let any tension slip away. Take a moment to notice your environment – any sounds you might hear in the background, what the temperature feels like in the room.

        Then, bring your attention to your breathing from three vantage points:

        First, notice the sensation of your breath going in and out of your nostrils or mouth.

        Second, as you breath, pay attention to the rise and fall of your chest.

        Third, notice the rise and fall of your belly as you breath.

        Pick the vantage point that seems to be the easiest for you to focus on. Follow the breath for its full duration, from start to finish. Notice that the breath happens on its own, without any conscious effort. Some breaths may be slow, some fast, some shallow or deep. You don’t need to control the breath, you just need to notice it.

        (Marlowe, 2013; Mindfulness Exercises, 2018; Sheridan, 2016)

        Note: Practice the skills when you are not in a stressful moment. It may seem difficult at first but with consistency and repetition, you will become skilled (Sheridan, 2016). Eventually you will find yourself automatically engaging in these mindful behaviours. You will find your parent-child relationship improves as your response to minor stressful situations become driven less by anxiety (Marlowe, 2013).

        Mindfulness as a Family

        Practicing mindfulness as a family gives older school-aged children, aged 8 to 11 a safe environment to express their emotions in a non-judgmental manner. This sharing creates an opportunity for parents and the children to be accountable for their behaviors. Mindfulness shows families how they can change their behaviors individually and as a family unit (Marlowe, 2013). It also helps enhance connections with one another.

        Mindfulness as a Family

        Family Friendly Mindfulness Exercises

        Mindful Eating

        Ask everyone to spend the first few minutes silently playing with the food in their mouth, noticing the varied sensations of taste, texture and temperature. It’s normal for the mind to wander. When you’ve realized the family has stopped focusing, simply remind everyone to be mindful of their food.

        Silence periods

        During enforced quiet periods, everyone does their regular routine in silence. Start with 5-10 minutes and work up to an hour or more. Other types of communication such as writing, signalling, and sign language should be discouraged. You will notice that the world is more vibrant because your other senses are heightened.

        Meditation

        Turn down the lights, have your phones turned off, and have everyone sit on the floor for a few minutes. The most common type of meditation is focusing on the breath. Children ages 8 to 11 can focus on their breathing by pretending to smell a flower while breathing in and pretending to blow a leaf while breathing out.

        (Marlowe, 2013; Sheridan, 2016)

        Breathing

        Benefits of Mindfulness

        Being a parent to older school aged children can be stressful. Decades of research have shown the mental health benefits of mindfulness and meditation. Since mental health has been linked to overall health status, practicing mindfulness can aid in maintaining immune function and improving a parent’s general well-being physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually (Goldstein & Goldstein, 2016). Moreover, mindfulness can help parents reduce anxiety and depression, increase body satisfaction, improve cognition, and help the brain reduce distractions to heighten complete awareness. Whether choosing to meditate or utilizing a different mindfulness path, taking time daily to focus on mindfulness is worth it because it allows a parent to be in tune with their feelings to better react to stressful moments with their child. Furthermore, practicing mindfulness as a family can enhance a parent’s connection with their children and vice versa.

        Mindful family

        Try My Mindfulness Technique Video

        Please click on the link below for a 2-minute YouTube demonstration on how parents and their school aged-children can practice mindfulness individually and together as a family:

        Video created by Gurneet Tatla
        2 mins, November 2018

        Mindful Parent Resources

        Mindful Changes

        Lotus Blue

        Mindful Changes is a blog created by Shahin Najak, a mother, certified Yoga instructor and Reiki practitioner, and a mindfulness teacher based in Vancouver BC. This resource allows individuals to stay in touch with her workshops and programs in Vancouver and across Canada. Mindful Changes is about sharing and teaching the practice of mindfulness with adults, parents, children, adolescents, and students and teachers within the education system. Shahin Najak’s mission is to inspire individuals to learn and practice mindfulness with tools and strategies that will help individuals to become more resilient to daily stressors. This resource offers mindfulness training and tools for individuals who want to live a more meaningful life.

        URL: https://www.mindful-changes.com/


        Mindful Families

        Lotus Blue

        Mindful Families is a blog created by Sara Marlowe, a mother, author, and clinical social worker. She incorporates mindfulness into her work with children, teenagers, adults, parents and families. This resource provides tips on mindful parenting and how to be a mindful kid. It also offers techniques and exercises on how parents and their children can incorporate mindfulness into their everyday lives individually and together as a family. Sara Marlowe also offers links to her mindfulness books, programs, workshops and meditation videos for everyone of all ages.

        URL: http://www.mindfulfamilies.ca/


        Mindful: Healthy Mind, Healthy Life

        Lotus Blue

        Mindful: Healthy Mind, Healthy Life is an online magazine subscription that inspires and connects individuals who want to explore mindfulness to enjoy better health, more loving relationships, and a compassionate society. A new mindfulness issue is published bi-monthly and offers personal stories, evidence-based research, and practical advice. The magazine also offers insights that speak to anyone from parents looking for guidance to better connect with their children to corporate managers exploring new ways to cultivate workplace engagement and fulfillment.

        URL: https://www.mindful.org/


        Settle Down, Pay Attention, Say Thank You: A How-To: Kristen Race at TEDxMileHighWomen

        Lotus Blue

        Dr. Kristen Race is a brain scientist who specializes in how stress affects the brain. She uses her knowledge in this Ted Talk to help individuals live more mindful and less stressful lives. In this YouTube video, Dr. Race shares simple techniques parents and the whole family can enjoy, helping them feel happier, healthier, calmer, and less stressed out.

        URL: https://youtu.be/Awd0kgxcZws


        The Best Meditation Apps for Parents

        Lotus Blue

        Parents are always on the go, from managing their children’s daily activities, their jobs, and daily errands such as grocery shopping. Sometimes it’s challenging for parents to find the time to be mindful due to their busy schedules. The Best Meditation Apps for Parents, gives parents information on the best mindful apps to help them slow down and focus on the present moment. Parents can subscribe to apps like Headspace, Happify, Shine Text, Spire, Smiling Mind, Mind the Bump, and many more on their smartphones and tablets to practice mindfulness through motivational articles and quotes, exercises, and activities. For example, Headspace is a personalized mindfulness coach that can provide parents with daily meditation and exercises to stay mentally healthy. Happify will allow parents to select the mental health and wellbeing goals they want to focus on. Then it will give them activities they can do to help meet those goals, such as mediation and mindful walking. Spire is an invisible mindfulness and activity tracker that’s recognized in continuous- respiration sensing, real-time interventions and actional feedback. Spire can also help parents keep track of their sleep and activity. This resource will inform parents of all the possible apps they can download so they can pick the ones that best suit their needs.

        URL: https://www.activekids.com/parenting-and-family/articles/the-best-meditation-apps-for-parents


        References

        Goldstein, E., & Goldstein, S. (2016). Raising the Mindful Family. Retrieved from https://www.mindful.org/raising-the-mindful-family/

        Marlowe, S. (2013). Mindful Practices for Parents. Mindful Families. Retrieved from http://www.mindfulfamilies.ca/index.php/mindful-families/mindful-parenting/practices-for-mindful-parenting

        Mindfulness Exercises. (2018). Mindfulness Exercises for Parents. Retrieved from https://mindfulnessexercises.com/mindfulness-exercises-for-parents/

        Morelli, A. O., & Dombeck, M. (2018). Child Development Theory: Middle Childhood (8-11). Retrieved from http://www.mhsso.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=37673&cn=1272

        Perry, S., Hockenberry, M., Lowdermilk, D., & Wilson, D. (2013). Maternal Child Nursing Care in Canada. (1st ed.). Ontario, Canada: Elsevier.

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

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          Mindfulness for Older School-aged Children

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            By Zarqa Ahmad and Athena Williamson

            What is Mindfulness?

            Zen

            Mindfulness can be defined as, “the ability to be fully present and attentive in the moment” (Sheridan, 2016). The foundational attitudes necessary to successfully progress towards mindful mastery are a beginner’s mind, patience, non-judging, non-striving, trust, letting go and acceptance (Sheridan, 2016). A beginner’s mind will stimulate a curious and new perspective to yourself and the world around you. Patience will guide you to work through the techniques at your own pace. A non-judging attitude will allow you to calmly and openly understand personal experiences, as well as those of others, without labelling them as right or wrong, neither good or bad. A non-striving perspective will encourage you to achieve feelings that are special to you, rather than specific goals; mindfulness is about what is inside, not an external entity. By trusting yourself, you will enable your strength and wisdom to guide you along your own path to mindfulness. Letting go will help you to release troubling thoughts from the past and future, which enable your mind and body to live in the present. Accepting your experiences and seeing the situations clearly from all points of view is the first step you can take towards a positive mindful change in your sense of being.

            Mindful children

            Therapeutic interventions such as meditation practice; mindfulness can help individuals disengage their “auto pilot” mode in order to look more carefully at their convictions and thought patterns. The act of pushing away negative thoughts and emotions in therapies such as cognitive behavioral theory can increase distress. So, practicing mindfulness can reduce that struggle by allowing people to relax and be calm while reflecting on his/her progress in the therapy. Therapeutic interventions help form self-awareness, and help clients induce a sense of physical and mental calmness.

            You can practice the following mindfulness techniques wherever and whenever you can. All it takes is a moment to reflect on your experiences to progress your mindful development, one activity at a time. Mindfulness is not a quick fix, however, with one step at a time, you will get closer to reaching your own mindful awareness.

            Mindful Moments

            The Three Ps and the STOP Practice exercises can help a child to respond to situations rather than react in the moment; especially when facing a stressful or confrontational experience (Sheridan, 2016).

            Mindful child

            The Three Ps

            1. Pause. Bring focus to your breathing and release yourself from doing mode.
            2. Be Present. Notice the sensations of your body, the thoughts of your mind and the emotions of your soul. Be accepting to your current experience.
            3. Proceed. In this moment, pay close attention to what needs your full attention, enabling your sense of being.
            Mindful children

            The STOP Practice

            1. Stop what you are doing.
            2. Take a deep breath and follow the air as it enters your lungs and exits your body.
            3. Observe your physical sensations, thoughts and emotions. Do you experience tension? – Focus on breathing through it.
            4. Proceed with the activity at hand when you feel a sense of calm through the exercise and find your centre. (Sheridan, 2016).

            THINK ABOUT:  What did you notice as you did these exercises? What was it like to transition from doing to being and reactive to responsive?

            Balance

            These mindfulness techniques can establish clarity of mind and allow for rational reasoning to the thought process. They bring your mind into a state of being present in the moment instead of compulsively doing an action or activity. These techniques can help you to deescalate internal and external stress which will influence self control over your emotions and help you to find balance of body and mind. It will enable improvements to adaptive coping, which will result in a faster recovery to the goal of a neutral emotional and physical state.

            Mindful Meditation

            The Three-Step Breathing Space is a formal practice of meditation, which provides you with the opportunity to take a minute for yourself to breath through your feelings of being overwhelmed with the stresses of life. This exercise can be done in any setting in as little as 30 seconds, to if you have time for.

            MINDFUL MEDITATION
            Family healthy lifestyle concept. Pregnancy Yoga and Fitness. Young happy pregnant yoga mom resting after workout with kid girl in living room. Pregnant mother and child meditating together at home

            Three-Step Breathing Space

            Sit tall with good posture in a chair and start taking deep breaths. Relax your shoulders down from your ears and rest your arms down by your sides; you can place your hands on your thighs.

            • Collect Your Awareness: begin to listen to and understand your body and mind. What sensations do you feel from your head to toe? What thoughts are flowing through your mind? Accept these thoughts and feelings to move forward to the next step.
            • Gather Your Attention: now draw your attention to the feelings of your abdomen as your breath in and out. Try to keep the breaths at the centre of your thoughts. If you find yourself thinking of other things, acknowledge the thoughts and transition back to your sensations of breathing.
            • Expand Your Awareness: begin to pull your attention to your whole body as you breathe. Allow any tension to release with the exhale of your breaths. Feel the gentle flow of breathing from the top of your head, down to your toes. Accept all the sensations, as part of your complete living and breathing experience.

            THINK ABOUT: Once the exercise is complete, consider what you noticed and reflect on the experience that breathing through your feelings of struggle has accomplished. (Sheridan, 2016)

            Designed by Freepik
            Designed by Freepik

            The Three-Step Breathing Space Mindful technique will enable you to collect your awareness of your body, mind and environment, gather your attention to your unique experience and expand your awareness to enhance your physical and mental health and well-being. The ability to accept what is happening in a momentous experience will reflect your ability to accomplish a mindful act. Although it seems easy to do when reading through the exercise, mindfulness takes time to develop; little by little you will get closer to accomplishing mindfulness.

            Mind and Body

            Practicing the body scan can help you bring attention and awareness to your body. The body scan can help you to relax and shift from “doing” mode to “being” mode while accepting and acknowledging any stresses present (Sheridan, 2016).

            Mind and Body

            The Body Scan

            • Start by lying down on your back on a flat surface with your palms facing up and feet slightly apart. Alternatively, you can also do this exercise sitting in a chair with your feet touching the ground.
            • Lie still and breath in and out. Notice the rhythm of your breaths. As you breath in notice the different sensations your body is feeling. As you breath out let these sensations go.
            • Pay attention to where your breathing is felt the most. Is it the stomach, chest or nostrils? Concentrate your breathing on that area for a few seconds.
            • Now feel your breath moving down across your legs to your toes. How does it feel? Are they warm? Cold? Numb? Tingly? Is there no sensation?
            • Feel your breath moving from your toes to the ankles. Sense what you’re feeling. What does it feel like?
            • Breathe in and out and notice your breath moving up your legs to your stomach. Notice how your stomach rises and falls with each breath in and each breath out. Pause here for a few seconds and think of any feelings or stresses.
            • Notice your breath moving from your stomach to your rib cage. Feel each exhale and inhale. Notice your heartbeat.
            • Notice your breath moving down your arms to your hands. Feel the sensations in your fingers.
            • Notice where your spine connects to your neck. Notice your breath moving from your lips to your eyes and now spreading around your entire body.
            • Imagine your breath giving life to your body.

            THINK ABOUT: After the exercise, think about and compare how you felt before, during and after practicing the body scan. (Sheridan, 2016)

            Girl meditating with mother
            Designed by Freepik

            Five Senses Exercise

            This is a quicker exercise that the body scan and can help one be brought to the mindful state. This exercise requires only one to two minutes to complete. (Positive Psychology Program, 2017)

            • Look around.
            • Identify five things you can see. Pick an object you don’t usually notice like a shadow or a tiny rock.
            • Identify four things you can currently feel. These four things can be anything such as the warm sun hitting your skin or the softness of your sweater.
            Five senses
            Designed by Freepik
            • Identify three things you can hear. Be creative these things can be anything like the sound of the wind or the sound of the car on the road.
            • Identify two things you can smell. Are these normal smells? Pick a smell you typically don’t notice. Can you smell the flowers in the grass or the smell of rain?
            • What’s one thing you can taste right now? Bring your attention to the texture and describe what it tastes like.

            The Mindful Jar

            This interactive mindfulness technique can help one positively cope with strong emotions. (Positive Psychology Program, 2017).

            Glitter jar
            • Get a clear mason jar and fill it with water.
            • Add some glitter glue to the jar.
            • Shake the jar and watch as the glitter swirls around the jar.
            • Imagine that the glitter represents your thoughts when you’re mad, sad or stressed out. The glitter’s making it hard to see through the glass. This is what happens when you’re mad or upset, it’s hard to think or see clearly
            • Now put the jar down and let it sit for a few minutes.
            • Watch as the glitter settles to the bottom of the jar.
            • Can you see through the glass now?
            • This is what happens when you pause and let your emotions be calm. You can see and think clearer (Blissful Kids, 2017).

            Try Our Mindfulness Techniques Video

            Video created by 
            Zarqa Ahmad and Athena Williamson
            6 mins, November 2018

            Mindful Child Resources

            Mindfulness and Meditation Videos for Kids

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            The Cosmic Kids mindfulness meditation videos are a perfect way to incorporate healthy screen-time in the home and classroom settings for the body and mind. It is a popular website resource among parents, teachers, and children alike. It incorporates fun, kid-friendly yoga, mindfulness and relaxation with the host of the videos, Jaime, and can be accessed through the Cosmic Kids YouTube Channel. It is reported by parents and teachers that by using these videos, significant improvements to children’s ability to self- regulate emotions, focus their attention and empathize with others were observed.

            URL: https://www.cosmickids.com/mindfulness-meditation-videos-kids/


            Mindfulness for Children

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            Annaka Harris, author of the children’s book, I Wonder and editor of Mindful Games, created the mindfulness for children program to support the development of concentration and self-awareness at the malleable age of 8 to 11 years of age. The program incorporates a variety of mindfulness exercises to stimulate the mind and achieve a sense of being present in the moment, such as: mindful hearing, mindful breathing, mindful seeing, and friendly wishes. Also available in this website resource are a series of interactive mindful games (activity cards), guided meditations, lessons on mindfulness and podcast interviews (ex. 10% Happier Podcast Interview).

            URL: https://annakaharris.com/mindfulness-for-children/


            10 Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Kids

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            The website resource, the Left Brain Buddha, is a valuable resource for parents and children to incorporate mindfulness in 10 fun and simple exercises developed by Sarah Rudell Beach. The use of these mindfulness techniques will enable the child to develop emotional regulation and cognitive focus to make better decisions and calmly respond to situations rather than reacting irrationally. The website also provides a video resource to the breathing buddies mindfulness technique with Daniel Goleman and a series of external resources to various other exercises to stimulate mindfulness.

            URL: https://leftbrainbuddha.com/10-ways-teach-mindfulness-to-kids/


            Kids Yoga

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            The yoga for kids section on the Gaia online resource provides a collection of videos designed to entice discovery, build strength and increase flexibility of the body and mind through their fun yoga sequences. It delivers a channel to tap into children’s busy lives and allow them to reconnect with themselves and the world around them. The videos encourage relaxation, positivity, creativity and silliness, as the poses guide them through interactive stories to benefit their physical, emotional and mental health and well-being.

            URL: https://www.gaia.com/style/kids-yoga


            3 Kid-Friendly Meditations Your Children Will Love

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            This is a thoughtful article by Melissa Eisler, that outlines the benefits of meditation for children experiencing stress and anxiety, as well as those diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression. Meditation can increase attentiveness and self control as well as respect and empathy for others. The children who utilize these mindful meditation techniques will find they enable them to morph their negative thoughts and behaviors into focussed self-confidence and accepting perceptions of themselves and that of others. Also linked to this online resource is a meditation app for kids to use on mobile devices, which enables convenience for children to practice meditation on the go.

            URL: https://chopra.com/articles/3-kid-friendly-meditations-your-children-will-love


            NY Time’s Mindfulness for Children

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            This website goes through several mindfulness practices and techniques for children and adults. It covers topics for infants, toddlers, children, older children and teenagers. There are also several links to videos and external resources which provide mindfulness games. The site also provides step by step instructions with pictures of how to perform each technique.

            URL: https://www.nytimes.com/guides/well/mindfulness-for-children


            Mindfulness Activities for Children and Teens

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            This website goes through several different mindfulness techniques including the incorporation of games, videos and step by step instructions. They also include tips that adults can utilize to help their children with these activities. The activities range from fun interactive activities to meditation techniques. Several apps are also recommended on the site to help facilitate mindfulness in children.

            URL: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/mindfulness-for-children-kids-activities/


            Meditation for Kids

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            This resource requires a free subscription and is available in an app format as well as the website format. It goes through five different areas children can explore. The topic areas for meditation include; calm, focus, kindness, sleep and wakeup. These exercises help children practice breathing techniques, and specific visualizations techniques.

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


            7 Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids Mindfulness

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            This website goes through seven different exercises children can practice. Parents can also go through these exercises with their children. The exercises include the bell listening exercise, breathing buddies, the squish and relax meditation, smell and tell, the art of touch, the heartbeat exercise, and heart-to-heart. The website also includes links to external pages for additional information.

            URL: lhttps://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-18136/7-fun-ways-to-teach-your-kids- mindfulness.html


            15 Mindfulness and Relaxation Apps for Kids with Anxiety

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            This resource provides 15 apps children who experience anxiety can utilize to induce a sense of mindfulness. Descriptions and costs of each app are included as well as graphical representations. Along with each description, the ways
            in which each app can benefit the child is also described. The website also goes through several children’s books that can help with mindfulness.

            URL: http://parentingchaos.com/anxiety-apps-kids/


            References

            Blissful Kids (2017). Mindfulness for Kids and Teens – Calming Glitter Jar aka Mind Jar.
            Retrieved from: https://blissfulkids.com/mindfulness-kids-teens-calming-glitter-jar-aka-mind-jar/

            Positive Psychology Program (2017). Mindfulness activities for children and teens: 25 fun exercises for kids. Retrieved from: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/mindfulness-for-children-kids-activities/

            Sheridan, C. (2016). The mindful nurse: using the power of mindfulness and compassion to help you thrive in your work. Charleston, SC: Rivertime Press. ISBN: 978-0-9933245-2-9. Paperback

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