This site was developed by Kwantlen Polytechnic University nursing students as an assignment for a course in the BSN-Advanced Entry program. This site includes mindfulness guides and resource sections for well families with children of different developmental stages including conception and pregnancy, infancy, toddlerhood, pre-school, childhood, adolescence, and for parents at different stages including young adult, middle-aged adult, and older adults.
To access particular guides and resources for specific age groups, click on the titles of the posts, or use the sidebar menu to the right to navigate the various sections. We hope you enjoy these resources and find value in their content.
Conception is generally defined as the “union of a single egg and sperm” (Perry, Hockenberry, Lowdermilk, & Wilson, 2010, p.172). Once conception has occurred, pregnancy begins. When talking about conception, it is important to mention preconception, as changes that occur during this time affect the conception period directly. It is also important to note that conception involves achieving it as well as preventing it. The following information will focus on conception and how mindfulness techniques can help achieve it
Preconception refers to the time before conception occurs. During this time, nurses and health care professionals can act early and provide education to promote health such as obtaining adequate rest, eating a well-balanced diet, and exercising regularly (Perry et al., 2010). It is also important to assess for risk factors that could potentially hinder a healthy pregnancy, such as chronic conditions and lifestyle habits including diabetes and substance misuse. Once a thorough assessment has been made, interventions can be put in place to improve health outcomes and chances of conception.
Infertility: Why is this happening?
The preconception stage can include the unfortunate period of infertility. Infertility is important to talk about when discussing conception as it is common in about 15% of couples accessing the health care system (Perry et al., 2010). Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive despite at least one year of unprotected intercourse (Campbell, 2014). Infertility has become a common concern for couples due to the change in conception age that has occurred over time (Baird et al., 2005). Because today’s couples are delaying the age of conception and increased age is associated with declining fertility, many are struggling to conceive. It is important to note that fertility declines with age in both males and females and therefore, can affect both sexes.
The struggle to conceive can be for unknown reasons for both partners but can also be attributed to ovulatory disorders, tubal damage, uterine concerns, and the male partner specifically (Campbell, 2014). In order to diagnose infertility, various assessments need to be conducted such as a history for female and male, lab work, and physical exams (Perry et al., 2010). Following these assessments, it is possible that the couple may need to undergo fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization. The process of these assessments and treatments can be emotionally and physically taxing for couples, which can further hinder fertility (Li, Li, Long, Liu, & He, 2016).
Mindfulness & Conception: A Concept
Mindfulness has been used with some success to promote mental and physical well-being in those struggling with infertility and conception. Mindfulness is essentially awareness and it can refer to what is happening, how it happens, and when it happens (Willett, 2018). Mindfulness during conception or while trying to conceive can help couples live in the moment and become more aware of negative emotions in order to transform them. Mindfulness intervention for those struggling with conception has been known to decrease both anxiety and depression symptoms. The use of mindfulness on conception and fertility was demonstrated by Li et al. (2016) in a study of mindfulness-based intervention for women undergoing in vitro fertilization. Li et al. (2016) focused their study on interventions such as mindful breathing, thought and feeling awareness, and discussion of mindful attitudes such as acceptance and letting go. They found that women struggling with fertility who were practicing mindfulness-based exercises weekly had significantly better quality of life and a higher incidence of pregnancy than women in the control group, who did not practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness group therapy also proved to be protective against depressive symptoms and negative thoughts in those struggling with infertility and conception in a study by Galhardo, Moura-Ramos, Cunha, & Pinto-Gouveia (2018) focused on mindfulness-based programs. Galhardo et al. (2018) found that women who received mindfulness-based therapy that promoted self-efficacy suffered from less depressive symptoms related to infertility compared to those who did not receive the therapy. This is significant as difficulty conceiving is associated with feelings of decreased self-efficacy, which can contribute to feelings of depression. The group-based therapy allowed women to voice concerns regarding their difficulties with conception such as, “what if this does not work?” without suppressing them. This, therefore, allowed for these feelings to lose some of the impact and power they had on their self-efficacy and consequently, feelings of hopelessness associated with depression decreased.
How can I be mindful?
Mindfulness does not necessarily come in the form of group-based mindfulness therapy such as the above. Because of the toll that infertility can take not only on physical, but mental health, methods to prevent depression and anxiety in couples with infertility have been created. One of these methods includes a mindfulness app called MindfulSpot(Monteiro, Galhardo, Cunha, Couto, Fonseca, & Carvalho, 2016).
MindfulSpot was created for those struggling with infertility to use on mobile devices as it provides text and audio content focused on the practice of mindfulness. The app allows users to practice mindfulness during anytime of the day and also provides users with information on some of the ways that infertility can impact quality of life.
While limited data has been collected on the effectiveness of MindfulSpot, it was specifically designed to help those struggling with infertility to cope through the use of mindfulness.
Any person struggling with infertility and its emotional and mental effects can use the mindfulness techniques described in the MindfulSpot app above to facilitate conception. Mindfulness techniques focus on awareness and improving perceptions of one’s self in order to deal with difficulties with conception. Knowing that it is possible to succeed and cope through mindfulness can prevent those struggling with conception from developing symptoms of anxiety and depression. It is important to note that not all those who struggle with depression need Mindfulness -based therapy or support. However, mindfulness-based interventions have been proven to decrease negative stress that can further hinder conception (Li et al., 2016).
The following are some resources that can be accessed for more information on this topic, starting with a video we made to help you relax and practice mindfulness.
Try Our Mindful Breathing Video
Video created by Emily Hannaford and Andrea Acosta, 1:41 minutes, November 2018 in Adobe Spark Video
Mindful Conception Resources
Essential Baby:Trying to Conceive
The Essential Baby website welcomes the user with many different topics related to family life including conception, pregnancy, birth, babies and toddlers. The subsections related to conception covered in this website include trying to conceive, fertility, ovulation, in-vitro fertilization, adoption and fostering, and surrogacy. There is also a sub-section whereby the user can access tools related to conception such as an ovulation calculator, a due date calculator, a baby name forum, and recommended baby product listings. The website interface is user-friendly and displays images to give the viewer insight to the content of each hyperlink.
The Pregnancy and Fertility Website To Help You Get Pregnant Now!
BabyMed is a website aimed to promote guidance for couples trying to achieve and maintain a healthy pregnancy. The creator of the BabyMed website is Dr. Amos Grunebaum. He is an OBGYN and professor at New York Medical School. His inspiration to create this website stemmed from the realization that many existing websites provided inaccurate information surrounding the topic of conception and pregnancy. Topics covered under the “getting pregnant” tab include before trying to get pregnant, getting pregnant, sex and getting pregnant, fertility awareness, ovulation and fertility, preconception planning, and special circumstances. As this website covers a wide range of relevant topics, it would be wise to enter into this resource with an open mind as there is quite a lot of information.
BabyCenter Canada is a website-based community dedicated to providing medically reviewed information and support to couples actively trying for a baby, new parents, and those who are expecting. The authors recognize that bringing a baby in to the world is a pivotal moment in a parent’s life and aims to create a smooth and joyful transition into parenthood. The information available on this website originates from medical professionals such as obstetricians, pediatricians and midwives. Research and fact checking each article BabyCenter publishes is one of the ways that they ensure the quality of the website’s materials. Topics specific to conception here include trying for a baby, sex and contraception, as well as infertility and trouble conceiving.
This community prides itself on being a welcoming space to help address questions and concerns related to conception and parenthood. They value presenting well- rounded perspectives to address problems and recognize that conception and pregnancy can be a very individual experience.
The Office on Women’s Health is an organization that takes a leading role to improve the health of women by providing education and awareness (via information sharing, programs, and activities) surrounding women’s health matters to both the public and health professionals. This website is well designed with an organized layout and appropriate headings to help the user navigate the site. The subject matter related to conception on this website includes fertility awareness, fertility pattern charting, infertility, when to see your doctor, counseling and support groups. The drop-down menus guide the user to further information on each heading.
This resource has a famous background since it was developed by the author of the book with its same name! The content on the website comes from the brand “what to expect” which is directly from the book written by Heidi Murkoff. The site offers advice on topics from pregnancy to what are the best baby products on the market. The very first tab seen on the site is called “getting pregnant” and by clicking it, individuals can access information on preconception and what to do before conceiving as well as an all-you-need-to- know section on fertility. The fertility section offers tips for conceiving, such as eating fertile friendly foods for both males and females! The What to Expect brand also offers the information on their site via mobile apps and are free of charge.
The Pathways To Parenthood for LGBT people is a website from the National LGBT health education center. It guides the reader through various clinical case vignettes to exemplify certain questions or issues that LGBT couples may encounter while considering the idea of having a baby. The document then transitions into a discussion of information and resources that can be considered in response to the issue presented in the vignette. For example, one of the vignettes addresses the idea of two male partners considering surrogacy. The discussion following the vignette guides the reader about what information is important to consider in relation to surrogacy such as traditional and gestational surrogates, estimated surrogacy costs and known and unknown egg donors. Other topics addressed throughout this document are adoption and foster parenting, donor insemination and IVF, and organizational support for LGBT parents.
HealthLink is a trusted resource whereby the user can obtain medically-approved information by phone, the website, or the Healthlink app. HealthLink offers a way for users to find health services accessible to them whether they need to find health resources located near their residence or health information available in their native language. There is a wealth of information that is returned when the user searches ‘conception’. Included in these topics are how pregnancy (conception) occurs, ethical and legal concerns of infertility, insemination and infertility, tips for healthy pregnancy habits, and fertility problems. The great feature of this resource is that if you prefer to seek out information in private, the website is easy to navigate whereby the user types in a keyword into the search bar and is then directed to information related to that topic. If the user prefers to speak over the phone with a healthcare professional including a nurse, pharmacist, or dietician in real-time, that option is available to them by dialing 8-1-1.
The Fertility Matters website is a great resource for those who are struggling with fertility and conception. All of the information on the site is written by Canadian fertility doctors who provide the information on a non-profit basis. These Canadian doctors aim to provide individuals with information regarding conception and fertility that is easy to understand. One of the strengths of this resource is that it normalizes the stress that accompanies the difficulty some couples have conceiving and offers to provide help. There are various options available to those who visit the site and it is not just for those who are struggling with conception. The site offers tips for those who have decided to start trying to conceive as well as those who have been diagnosed with infertility. One of the key features of this website is a question and answer section whereby individuals can address their curiosities and receive dependable answers in a timely fashion.
This is a visual and auditory representation of the process of conception. It demonstrates how the sperm cells race to the egg cell, the dissolution of the egg’s membrane, and the fertilization of the egg by one single sperm cell leading to the formation of a zygote and subsequently the embryo. This is a valuable resource because it offers a different way for the viewer to learn about conception. While this video is quite brief, as it is just over two minutes long, it’s an appropriate resource to use as a starting point if the targeted audience has an interest in the biologically process behind conception but is wanting to avoid becoming overwhelmed with the level of detail found with other resources.
SexandU is a Canadian website supported by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada aimed to provide relevant and credible information about sex. The range of topics include sexual activity, LGBTQ awareness, STI’s, contraception, pregnancy, and consent. The section addressing conception defines what ovulation is and discusses specific fertility awareness-based methods (i.e. basal body temperature, menstrual cycle tracking, ovulation kit) of detecting the fertile window in an effort to target successful conception.
Baird, D. T., Collins, J., Egozcue, J., Evers, L. H., Gianaroli, L., Leridon, H., Sunde, A., Templeton, A., Van Steirteghem, A., Cohen, J., Crosignani, P. G., Devroey, P., Diedrich, K., Fauser, B.C., Fraser, L., Glasier, A., Liebaers, I., Mautone, G., Penney, G., & Tarlatzis, B. ESHRE Capri Workshop Group. (2005). Fertility and ageing. Human Reproduction Update, 11(3), 261-276. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmi006
Campbell, T. (2014). infertility. Nursing Standard (Royal College of Nursing (Great Britain) : 1987), 28(40), 18-18. doi:10.7748/ns.28.40.18.s25
Galhardo, A., Moura-Ramos, M., Cunha, M., & Pinto-Gouveia, J. (2018). How does the mindfulness-based program for infertility (MBPI) work in reducing depressive symptoms? Mindfulness, 9(2), 629-635. doi:10.1007/s12671-017-0805-z
Li, J., Li, M., Long, L., Liu, Y., & He, W. (2016). Effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on fertility quality of life and pregnancy rates among women subjected to first in vitro fertilization treatment. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 77, 96-104. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2015.12.010
Monteiro, B., Galhardo, A., Cunha, M., Couto, M., Fonseca, F., & Carvalho, L. (2016). MindfulSpot: A mindfulness mobile app for people dealing with infertility. European Psychiatry, 33, S609-S610. doi:10.1016/j.eurpsy.2016.01.2279
Perry, S., Hockenberry, M., Lowdermilk, D. & Wilson, D. (2010). Maternal Child Nursing Care (4th ed.). Maryland Heights, MO: Mosby
Willett, E. (2018). Being Mindful – Having a Positive Outlook When Trying to Conceive. Retrieved from https://natural-fertility-info.com/mind-over-matter.html?fbclid=IwAR2x9tjxG e8EvVc4fxlRhiC4_9q3MoGPcy7lAT1bU6am0KS1rJIqajgAXeo
Mindfulness has been gaining traction as a way of improving individual well-being, from health to happiness and resilience (Suttie, 2016). Mindfulness can be defined as the awareness that emerges through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding experience moment by moment (Duncan, Coatsworth & Greenberg, 2009). Parenting can be a very challenging task and one that takes a lot of commitment and responsibility. Being mindful as a parent is of utmost importance and can help reduce the stressors that accompany parenting (Meppelink, Bruin, Wanders-Mulder, Vennik, & Bögels, 2016). When parents become stressed that stress becomes contagious; children know when their parents are tense and overwhelmed (Garey, 2018). Data shows that the greatest source of childhood and adolescent stress is not school work, extracurricular activities, or peer pressure, but parental stress. That being said, being a good parent also means learning to manage your own stress and mindfulness activities are a great way to facilitate this.
Mindful parenting has been described as a fundamental parenting skill or practice and it has been proposed that fostering everyday mindfulness in the context of parenting and parent training is one avenue for improving the effectiveness of parenting interventions (Duncan et al., 2009). Understanding your preschooler’s development and filling your toolbox with positive parenting skills will go a long way in resolving conflicts with your young child. As children grow into early childhood, their world will begin to open up as they become more independent and begin to focus more on adults both in and outside of the family (Perry, Hockenberry, Lowdermilk, & Wilson, 2017).
Mindful Parenting Experience
Incorporating mindful awareness into parenting interactions can allow parents to stop and fundamentally shift their awareness in order to view their present-moment parenting experience as well as attend to their child’s needs, while exercising self-regulation and wise choice in their actions (Duncan et al., 2009). It can also help that parents know that many different factors such as temperament, brain development, physical and intellectual abilities, and skill acquisition underlie much of a child’s behavior in these early years. Even the most delightful child can misbehave, and this can be frustrating for parents to deal with. Duncan et al.’s (2009) model of mindful parenting suggests that parents who can remain aware and accepting of their child’s needs through using mindfulness practices can create a family context that allows for more enduring satisfaction and enjoyment in the parent–child relationship.
When parents bring the practices of mindful parenting to parent–child interactions, they can cultivate an enhanced capacity for parenting calmly, with greater consistency, and in greater accordance with their goals and values, while engendering a warm and nurturing affective tenor in the parent–child relationship (Duncan et al., 2009). Challenging moments with young children can cause parents to snap or lose their temper and this is a reminder of how mindfulness can be such a valuable tool in parenting. When it comes to parenting mindfully, a lot of the work is about learning to make peace with our imperfections. Instead of beating yourself up, if you are able to make peace with your imperfections and begin to regulate your emotional state, you can be calmer and more present for your kids and cultivate some self-compassion (Garey, 2018).
It is easy to allow worry to take you away from the present. Duncan et al. (2009) suggest parents bring a present-moment awareness to their parenting that includes listening with full attention, bringing emotional awareness and nonjudgmental acceptance to their parenting interactions, and practicing self-regulation and compassion in their parenting relationships. Not imagining the worst helps parents to be more effective at dealing with today. Lechner (2018) describes worrying as being similar to paying interest on a loan that you haven’t been approved for.
Mindfulness and the Breath
One technique to help stay grounded in the present moment is to practice deep breathing (Lechner, 2018). Three rounds of slow inhalation and exhalation can calm the fight or flight response and will help you to feel in control of your emotions rather than letting your emotions and worry control you (Lechner, 2018). There’s science to show that taking a deep breath and staying calm when your children are pushing you to the edge actually causes positive changes in the brain (Garey, 2018). Research shows when you are able to recognize chaos in a non-anxious or fearful way, but just name it, people can actually turn the volume down on the amygdala, which is the fear circuit of the brain, and bring more activity to the prefrontal cortex, so we can be more aware of what’s happening right now in the present (Garey, 2018).
Start the Day Off Mindfully
A mindful family works together as a team and as a parent, you are not controlling the outcome, but you are guiding your team (Lechner, 2018). Another helpful resource is to make a concerted effort to slow things down. By slowing things down, stepping back and observing your own reactions, you are given a new perspective to effectively restructure your family’s routine, think of your busy morning routine rushing to get ready before school (Garey, 2018). Mindful mornings may be less efficient, but they’re more pleasurable as you will start with a happy mood instead of all this stress and rushing. Garey (2018) suggests efforts like waking up earlier and allowing your child to pick out their own clothes if this is what they insist. If you’re five minutes late to preschool it doesn’t change anything. What changes things is the frustration and stress that builds up causing everything to unravel (Garey, 2018).
Research by Suttie (2016) showed that parents who reported more mindful parenting engaged in more positive and less negative parenting behavior, which was then linked to more positive behavior in their kids—meaning less anxiety, depression, and acting out. It seems there is no one right way to parent mindfully but happily, there are many right ways. Sometimes it’s as simple as practicing paying full attention to your kids, with openness and compassion, and maybe that’s enough at any moment (Garey, 2018).
Mindful Breathing for Parents Video
Video created by Megan Durrant and Sarah Hillsdon 2 mina, November 2018 in ShowMe
Mindful Parent Resources
Mindfulness Exercises is a website that has access to more than 1500 mindfulness activities and exercises that are free. The website strives to share the best evidence based mindfulness exercises with people all around the world. The website is complete with worksheets, videos, ebooks, mindfulness coaching and training as well as a 100-day mindfulness challenge.
The Child Mind Institute aims to help children and their families who are struggling with mental health and learning disorders and provides information that will empower families and communities to get help in the areas of mental health and learning disorders. One aspect of the website includes information on mindfulness techniques for parents that can take stress and anxiety out of raising kids. This website also includes information for families and educators along with their research in this area.
This TED talk by Mary Ann Christie Burnside, a developmental psychologist is on the topic of Mindfulness and Parenting. The speaker is a developmental psychologist who specializes in relational health and mindfulness education. She also offers programs such as group sessions in schools, workplaces and communities such as mindfulness retreats for adults and mindfulness training.
Vancouver Coastal Health has a parenting resources page which includes information such as sleep, play, siblings and even getting ready for school. This page shows how to build healthy relationships with your preschooler – specifically how to foster strong and loving relationships and how to approach challenging behaviors. Information such as immunizations, allergies, speech and language and staying healthy are also included on this website.
The Child Development Institute provides information to parents related to child development, psychology, health, parenting and family activities. This website connects parents with professional experts and other useful websites. The goal of the Institute is to promote parent-child relationships by encouraging families to spend time together which in turn fosters and promotes communication including a page on mindful parenting.
Healthy Families BC Aims to improve the health and wellbeing of British Columbians. Healthy families BC focuses on four main areas including healthy eating, healthy lifestyles, resources for parents and fostering healthy communication. There is a specific area dedicated to preschool aged children where they have many articles and information surrounding healthy eating, physical activity, safety, development and parenting.
The Mindful Parent is an organization that strives to share information with parents and caregivers on how to mindfully attend to children. They strive to demonstrate to parents and caregivers how to be physically present with their children as well how to enhance their connection with children in hopes to create better and happier parents. This website also is a platform for parents to share dialogue surrounding mindfulness and parenting experiences.
This resource can be found on YouTube and is a daily breathing meditation video. This is a shortened version of the material that can be found on the mindfulness for parents online course offered by the authors. This video demonstrates meditations and guided imagery that can help parents become mindful and balanced.
Parenting Science was created to provide parents with evidence-based information about parenting and child development. This website was created by Gwen Dewar who received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan where she trained in behavioral ecology and Comparative Psychology. This website includes information surrounding the preschool aged child including cognitive development, learning, play, self control and sleep. It also includes information surrounding parenting including mindfulness, attachment and parenting styles.
Duncan, L. G., Coatsworth, J. D., & Greenberg, M. T. (2009). A model of mindful parenting: implications for parent-child relationships and prevention research. Clinical child and family psychology review, 12(3), 255-70.
Meppelink, R., Bruin, E. I., Wanders-Mulder, F. H., Vennik, C. J., & Bögels, S. M. (2016). Mindful Parenting Training in Child Psychiatric Settings: Heightened Parental Mindfulness Reduces Parents’ and Children’s Psychopathology. Mindfulness, 7(3), 680-689. doi:10.1007/s12671-016-0504-1
Perry, S., Hockenberry, M., Lowdermilk, D. & Wilson, D. (2017). Maternal Child nursing in Canada. 2nd edition. Toronto: Elsevier (Mosby).
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!
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!
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:
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).
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).
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:
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
Self Care – why it’s the first step to Mindful Parenting
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).
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/
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.
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.
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.):
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?
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?
How does being mindful during the daily interaction benefit your relationship with your child?
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
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.
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.
Begin this routine by assuming the Plank Pose.
From the plank pose, lower your knees and chest to the ground to achieve the 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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).
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 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.
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
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/.
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.
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/.
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/.
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.
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.
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).
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)
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)
“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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Family Friendly Mindfulness Exercises
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.
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.
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)
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Settle Down, Pay Attention, Say Thank You: A How-To: Kristen Race at TEDxMileHighWomen
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
The Three Ps
Pause. Bring focus to your breathing and release yourself from doing mode.
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.
Proceed. In this moment, pay close attention to what needs your full attention, enabling your sense of being.
The STOP Practice
Stop what you are doing.
Take a deep breath and follow the air as it enters your lungs and exits your body.
Observe your physical sensations, thoughts and emotions. Do you experience tension? – Focus on breathing through it.
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?
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.
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.
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)
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).
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)
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)
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.
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).
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
3 Kid-Friendly Meditations Your Children Will Love
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
15 Mindfulness and Relaxation Apps for Kids with Anxiety
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.
As a parent your mind is constantly running. Maybe you are out grocery shopping or at work and you will start thinking about what you have to make for dinner or worrying about something else that has been on your mind. Mindfulness is the practice of calming your mind so that you are present within that moment and can focus on your day. Taking time to take care of your mental health and practice mindfulness allows you to be present not only for yourself, but for your family (HealthLink BC, 2017). Young adolescents (12-15-year-old) are in a stage of life where they are transitioning not only from elementary school to high school but trying to create their own unique identity (Thompson & Gauntlett-Gilbert, 2008). As a parent of young adolescents, it is important to be mindful of your 12-15-year-old making these transitions in life and help teach them the tools they need to make such transitions.
Helping Your Teen deal with Stress
Life can be stressful for a young adolescent from school, friends, family, or stress they bring upon themselves. Just like any adult a child can make high expectations of themselves and cause themselves to feel stress when they feel they have failed. As a parent you can help to reduce your child’s stress through using mindfulness to identify when they are stressed. If your child feels stressed acknowledge their feelings and reassure them that you are there for them. Develop trust and be supportive so that they feel they can come to you and share what is bothering them (HealthLink BC, 2017). Try not to overschedule your child as it can add to their stress and your own between driving them to and from activities and coordinating schedules. Talk to them about what activities or extracurriculars they enjoy doing and make time for those activities. This provides them with some control over their life and can help free up your own schedule from coordinating and commuting between multiple activities (HealthLink BC, 2017).
Being a Good Role Model
As a parent you can also provide them with good mindfulness skills and positive coping skills to help them with the stress in their lives. Be a good example for your kids. When you are angry try to keep calm and express your anger in an appropriate way. Opening up and communicating with your child builds trust so that they feel they can talk with you. Talk and teach them about the consequences to their actions. So that when faced with a decision in the future they can think about their choices and the consequences that go along with that decision (Thompson & Gauntlett-Gilbert, 2008). Encourage them and provide opportunities for rational thinking by helping to outline what is reality versus wishful thinking. Being mindful of your own stress and your young adolescents is good, but you will also need to find ways to help get rid of or deal with your stress. By dealing with your stress you can be more present with your family and help to set a good example for your children in what they can do to help deal with their own stress (HealthLink BC, 2017).
Exercise is a great way to manage stress as it allows you to channel your energy into performing a physical task. Perform an exercise you enjoy doing and encourage your child to join in if they feel like the exercise activity can act as a stress relief and a bonding experience. Let yourself and encourage your child to talk, laugh, cry, and express anger when you feel you need to (HealthLink BC, 2017). Writing and drawing are other creative ways to channel feelings and create something of meaning to you. Children will often find a creative outlet as a way to express their feelings – allowing yourself or them to express these feelings will help you both to process them (Thompson & Gauntlett-Gilbert, 2008).
Another way to relieve stress and act as a bonding experience between you and your child is doing things you love to do together such as, cooking, hiking, video games, etc. Finding ways to help you or your child relax will bring you closer together and promote positive coping. Breathing exercises, meditating, massage, aromatherapy, and yoga are great ways to channel your energy and practice mindfulness (HealthLink BC, 2017).
A formal meditation often involves a person sitting very still and focusing in on a single thing, which can be difficult for children or even adults. If you are interested in meditating as a form of relaxation it can sometime take some practice. Using a guided meditation video or audio can help you get started. To practice meditation, start out with a smaller session and slowly make your meditation sessions longer to reach your meditation goal (Thompson & Gauntlett-Gilbert, 2008).
First start by finding a relaxing position where you feel the most comfortable, either sitting or lying down. Begin to focus on your breathing and begin to slow it down with each breath you breathe in. Make note of any feelings you feel as you are focusing on your breathing and try to let them go as you continue to breath. Release any tightness that you feel in your muscles – release that tension with every breath you take in. As you continue to breathe you should feel your stress melt away. Do not give up on trying meditation if it doesn’t work after your first try. With meditation you need to find what works for you (Inner Health Studio, 2018). There are books, videos, audio, and apps available (some are listed below in our resources section) that can help you in your mindfulness journey and help you to meditate effectively.
This activity is a great way to practice mindfulness with your young adolescent. Put on a song and really listen to the music and feel like you are getting inside the song. Instead of just listening to the lyrics, really listen to the instruments and see if you can identify them. Listen to how loud or soft the music is or how fast or slow it is. Ask yourself how you feel as you hear the song playing, both mentally and physically. What emotions does it make you feel and where do you feel these emotions? By asking yourself these questions you are practicing being present within that moment of listening, which is the main skill in being mindful (Sedley, 2017).
Mindfulness and the Brain
This YouTube video provides a snapshot of the functioning of your brain. Developed by Dr. Dan Siegel, the “Hand Model of the Brain,” is a great way for both you and your adolescent to understand how the brain functions, and how mindfulness skills impact our brain.
3 Steps to Mindfulness
Mindfulness is integrated into a variety of therapeutic modalities from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, to Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, but can be learned by any individual in a couple of quick steps. The biggest challenge is allowing your nagging thoughts to be present without feeling like you need to get rid of them, change, or control them. Consider these quick steps to get you started:
Try Our Mindfully Washing Dishes Video
Mindfulness can be integrated into many of your daily activities. Whether it be eating, going for a walk, or even while you’re washing dishes.
Video created by Lauren Greer & Tenaia Gatland 2 mins, November 2018 In Adobe Spark Video
Resources for Mindful Parents
Book – Wherever You Go There You Are
Jon Kabat-Zinn is a leader in the field of mindfulness and has done a lot of work on the integration of mindfulness to support the experience of chronic pain sufferers. He developed the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine at the University of Massachusetts. His research has demonstrated the benefits of combating chronic pain through the use of mindfulness skills. The bio for John Kabat-Zinn can be found here: https://www.umassmed.edu/cfm/about-us/people/2-meet-our-faculty/kabat-zinn-profile/
This workbook is developed to make the experience of mindfulness easily accessible to any individual. Through the use of a workbook and guiding CD tracks, the individual is able to work through concepts and practice mindfulness at their own pace as time allows. Great for parents of children on-the-go.
This book is a personal favourite. It touches on the difficulties that life offers. The author discusses the challenges of being a parent, a partner, and an individual, and inspires kindness for each of the roles a person has. It offers forgiveness to the individual and encourages gentleness between ourselves and our own thoughts. Dr. Tara Brach can further be explored through her website and has a number of helpful talks and guided meditations at – https://www.tarabrach.com/
Many of us struggle with mental health challenges at some point in our lives. Mindfulness offers us a skill to help manage stress and reduce the intensity of overwhelming emotions. This workbook is another way that the individual can guide themselves through the process of setting up a mindfulness practice.
This application is freely accessible on both Android and iPhone. It offers a large diversity of meditations ranging from body scans, loving-kindness meditations, and guided visualization. The best feature of this app is that it offers something for every individual, whether you are just starting out with mindfulness and meditation or are wanting to explore a deeper practice. My personal favourites include “May I Be Happy,” by Stephan Pende Wormland; meditations by Tara Brach or Andy Hobson
This application offers sleep stories, breathing exercises, and soothing sounds to help you focus, relax, and sleep better. It is easily navigated and provides a user-friendly experience to beginning a mindfulness practice.
One of the best features of this application is the accessibility it offers. This application is even available on some planes and can help the user reduce anxious experiences while flying. The application is designed to be accessible by a diverse consumer body and has inviting animations that help guide the individuals experience at any age.
This website is a one-stop-shop for everything mindfulness. One of the great offerings of this website is the information it provides on mindfulness and the brain. Not only does it offer the latest research on mindfulness, but also has sections that can help a person get started with adding mindfulness in to their lives.
Zencast is a podcast offering a number of discussions on meditation and mindfulness related topics. What’s great about it is that you can listen while driving, riding the train or while exercising. As a result, it’s easily fit in to a busy schedule.
By using any inexpensive heart rate monitor, you can measure your heart rate at the beginning of a mindfulness exercise and notice the change in your heart rate on completion of your exercise. You might find it helpful to identify when your heart rate is increasing or by noticing feelings of stress or anxiety and using a mindfulness skill to reduce your heart rate and promote feelings of calmness. Having a high heart rate is not always indicative of anxiety or stress but can indicate increased energy expenditure like when you’re exercising.
The Adolescent’s Desire for Independence & Autonomy
As an adolescent, one of the most important developmental tasks is achieving a sense of autonomy – the ability for one to make one’s own choices without the need to rely on others, such as parents (Shaffer & Kipp, 2010). In order to have a healthy parent-child relationship, both the adolescent and parent should remain mindful of one another’s intentions, desires, and goals. Robert LeVine (1988) explained that parents all around the world share three common goals: to provide safety; to provide the child with the skills to become economically productive adults, and to ensure the child acquires the same cultural values as the parents. Adolescents should remain mindful of these parental goals as they desire greater autonomy and independence. Although greater independence is something that all adolescents need for a successful transition into adulthood, having too much independence may cause poor adjustment (Shaffer & Kipp, 2010). It is also important to be mindfully aware that the amount of independence given to an adolescent is based on several factors, such as the age of the adolescent, gender, cultural expectations and parental attitudes (Bumpus, Crouter & McHale, 2001). Although it is easy to make comparisons between peers, remember that each parent has their own approach to raising their child with the three parental goals in mind.
Importance of Family and Mindfulness in Adolescence
Warm and supportive parenting along with a strong sense of connectedness with family provides a source of support throughout childhood development. Family provides the adolescent with a secure base enabling them to widen their social environments and explore new things (Kim, Woodhouse & Dai, 2018; Allen et al., 2003; Byng‐Hall, 1995). Having a positive relationship with one’s family offers many benefits in terms of daily life and healthy development. A supportive and warm family relationship fosters social competence, self-esteem, independence and resiliency (Thomas & Joseph, 2013; Steinberg & Morris, 2001; Brennan, 1993). The importance of mindfulness increases during early adolescence as their views, desires and interpersonal goals may conflict with that of their parents (Shaffer & Kipp, 2010). Although some conflict between the adolescent and parent is normal, too much may have negative implications on both well-being and development (Moed, 2015). Fortunately, mindfulness can help reduce parent-child conflict by bringing attention into the present moment and allowing both sides to perceive each other’s thoughts and feelings more accurately (Duncan, Coatsworth & Greenberg, 2009).
Mindfulness can be defined as the ability for an individual to be fully present and attentive in the moment (Sheridan, 2016; Gehart, 2012). Being mindful means accepting thoughts as they occur and allowing them to unfold without judgment (Gehart, 2012). A difficult concept to master is to let go of thoughts and notions of what “should” be and to investigative the deeper meaning of what is occurring (Gehart, 2012).
For example, Tom, a 15 year-old-boy reacts angrily at his parents who forbid him to stay up past 11 pm on a Wednesday night. Without being mindful, Tom believes that his parents are punishing him and not allowing him to “grow-up”. However, If Tom were mindful, he would understand that his parent’s intention was to allow him enough rest so that he would be able to perform well on his math test the following morning. Furthermore, mindfulness would have enabled Tom to avoid reacting automatically, investigate his parent’s reasoning and intentions, and in evaluating his own thoughts, feelings and emotions (Raski, 2015; Swart, Bass & Apsche, 2015). Mindfulness also has positive implications for family communication patterns, conflict resolution, and family cohesion (Brody, Scherer, Turner, Annett & Dalen, 2018). Therefore, the practice of mindfulness beginning in adolescence cannot be overstated.
Benefits of Mindfulness
The literature examining the benefits of mindfulness is extensive. Mindfulness is associated with improved emotional regulation, well-being, attention, self-compassion, empathy, acceptance of self, and ability to respond with awareness (Baer, 2010; Kocovski , Segal & Battistam, 2009; Brown & Ryan, 2003; South, Doss, & Christensen, 2010; Birnie, Speca, & Carlson, 2010). Evidence also suggests that practicing mindfulness can reduce stress by creating a relaxation response in the brain (Gehart, 2012). Research examining the benefits of mindfulness-based activities in adolescence has shown favourable effects on self-esteem, sleep quality and duration, academic performance, self-regulation, social skills and well-being (Tan, 2016; Biegel, Brown, Shapiro & Schubert, 2009; Greco, Baer, & Smith, 2011). Daily mindfulness-based practice helps improve quality of life and the ability to handle the stress associated with adolescence (Tan, 2016). In addition, mindfulness brings an awareness to different manifestations of stress and anxiety, enabling the adolescent to respond accordingly (Malboeuf-Hurtubise, Achille, Sultan & Vadnais, 2013). Thus, the stress and anxiety which can easily build up throughout adolescence can be quickly targeted using mindfulness, creating peace of mind (Malboeuf-Hurtubise, Achille, Sultan & Vadnais, 2013).
Modifications to Mindfulness Practice in Adolescence
Many of the current mindfulness-based activities do not take developmental considerations into account. In order to practice mindfulness effectively as an adolescent, modifications are required (Tan, 2016). For example, adolescent’s ability to focus attention on a single activity is limited when compared to adults (Tan, 2016). Therefore, mindfulness-based activities will not exceed a duration longer than that of which the adolescent can maintain focus. In addition, mindfulness-based activities will aim to incorporate multiple senses, such as the need for movement and physical activity (Tan, 2016). Although young adolescents are in Piaget’s formal operations stage, they are only beginning to develop complex cognitive skills, such as verbal fluency, abstract reasoning, and conceptualization (Tang, 2011). Therefore, all mindfulness-based practices should consider the childs age and stage of development.
Mindfulness Exercise 1: Mindful Breathing
Mindfulness practice enables the learner to obtain a more positive way of relating to thoughts, feelings, and experiences. In addition, it allows the adolescent the ability to implement better problem-solving strategies and more effective responses to problems (Oberle, & Schonert-Reichl, 2014). The benefit of mindfulness practice is that it can be practiced on anything that can be the focus of one’s attention (Gehart, 2012). The foundation of mindfulness practice is the focus on one’s breath. Researchers have shown several benefits of mindfulness breathing, such as promoting optimal brain functioning (Siegel, 2007). Mindful breathing requires the individual to sit in a chair in a dimly lit room. It involves a process of focusing one’s attention on their breath, over and over. Through focusing on one’s breath, the individual successfully refocuses their attention to the present moment (Sheridan, 2016).
To begin mindful breathing, set a timer for 5 minutes and sit in a comfortable chair. The goal during the five minutes is to focus your attention on your breath as you inhale and exhale. If and when you notice other thoughts creep into your mind, remind yourself to focus on your breath by using a cue word such as “thinking” (Sheridan, 2016). Returning focus to one’s breath also requires the individual to accept whatever thoughts occur without judgment (Gehart, 2012). The individual must also display self-compassion and not beat oneself up about losing focus (Sheridan, 2016; Gehart, 2012). Do not worry about the number of times you have to refocus your thoughts on breathing. Mindfulness-based exercises take patience and practice. Daily mindfulness practice will positively influence the rest of the day by bringing increased attention to the moment and reducing negative emotions and mental preoccupations (Sheridan, 2016). It is important to note that mindfulness breathing can be done throughout the day in a variety of settings and does not require much time.
Mindfulness Exercise 2: Mindfulness Art
As indicated previously, to maximize the benefits of mindfulness practice during adolescence, activities should incorporate multiple senses (Tan, 2016). In addition, including practical elements which encourage active participation in present-moment activities are beneficial for adolescents (Kabat-Zinn, 2003). Mindfulness art is a form of mindfulness practice which has the individual partake in creative activities, such as colouring and drawing. Beckwith (2014) explained that colouring pre-drawn mandala’s shifts the adolescent’s attention towards the present moment and increases awareness of their current experiences.
Mindfulness art has shown beneficial results for reducing stress, anxiety, fatigue, and rumination while promoting feelings of relaxation (Carsley & Heath, 2018; Mantzios & Giannou, 2018; van der Vennet & Serice, 2012). There are hundreds of colouring-books available for purchase and can be implemented effectively with little cost. However, when one is performing mindfulness art, avoid thinking about things other than the activity. As with mindful breathing, the individual will have to accept thoughts as they occur without judgment. However, instead of refocusing on one’s breath, the individual refocuses on their art.
Try The Body Scan Video
Video created by Matt Tucker 2:27 mins, November 2018 In Adobe Spark Video
Mindful Adolescent Resources
The Greater Good Science Center
The Greater Good Science Center offers a variety of science-based activities, such as compassion, kindness, forgiveness, empathy, gratitude, and mindfulness. The website, hosted by the University of California, Berkeley, offers suggestions, guidance and the time required to complete each activity. For example, the mindful breathing activity requires 15 minutes and for the individual to find a relaxed and comfortable position. In addition, features on the website allow the user to mark activities as complete or to save it for later. The aim of The Greater Good Science Center is to provide the user with the resources and tools to live a happier and more meaningful life. However, as noted on their website, the tools and resources provided are not a substitute for therapy or to serve as a form of mental health treatment.
Mindfulness for Teens is a website which provides information, resources and tools to successfully apply mindfulness into everyday life. The website was designed by Dr. Dzung Vo, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine at British Columbia Children’s Hospital. His website includes a detailed description of what mindfulness is, its practical applications as well as firsthand accounts from adolescents who have implemented mindfulness into their lives. A goal set out by Dr. Dzung Vo is to promote resiliency in young people to help them thrive in today’s world. The website also provides guided meditation instructions on mindful breathing, sitting meditation, body scan, walking meditation, mindful movement, loving-kindness, and mindfulness of thinking. Lastly, the website provides additional resources such as websites, apps, and books which focus on mindfulness practice.
Foundry, a Canadian based company, provides information, resources, and tools to help improve access to health and social services for young people throughout British Columbia. Hosted by Providence Health Care, the website offers information on the basics of mindfulness including the benefits and different ways to be mindful. Foundry also provides a list of recommended apps, such as Calm and Headspace as well as links to where one can find help and support. Their interactive map helps youth find local programs and community services which may offer them additional assistance. Foundry also provides resources for friends of individuals who may need help. For example, the website includes information on how you can help a friend; signs your friend may need support; concerned about a friend’s alcohol or substance use; tips for talking with your friend; and tips for supporting a friend’s mental wellness.
Kelty Mental Health Resource Center offers a variety of toolkits for adolescents and their families. The online Family Toolkit offers detailed and practical information on healthy eating, physical activity, stress management, and sleeping. The resource also offers video’s on how to set S.M.A.R.T goals as a family. The online and in-print Family Toolkit is offered in English, French, Korean, Farsi, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Punjabi. If needed, the printed version of the Family Toolkit can be borrowed from BC Children’s Hospital. The Family Toolkit offers links and titles to additional resources on all topics covered. In addition, the online resource offers contact information of trained parent and youth peer support workers which can aid adolescents and their family’s on weekdays from 9:30am-5:00 pm.
Breathr is an interactive app developed by the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre to help adolescents develop mindfulness and improve overall health. Available on both Android and Apple, the app provides the user with several mindfulness activities as well as the science behind each practice. The aim of the application is to provide the adolescent with a fun, easy to use, developmentally appropriate tool to benefit their well-being and health. Breathr guides the user through several exercises, such as body scans, mindful breathing, and SOBER coping space. The goal of these activities is to improve mindfulness and switch attention to the present moment. Finally, Breathr allows the user to set reminders and notifications of when to perform mindfulness practice. In addition, the user can select which type of mindfulness activity they would like to perform at specific times throughout the day.
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