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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