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Wow, there’s no doubt that the impact of Coronavirus has been far reaching. No-one’s escaped the impact and it’s certainly had a significant effect on family life. With kids kept off school and parents and carers picking up the roles of teacher, entertainer and (constant) caterer things can get a bit fraught in a lockdown household.
Whilst we grown ups try to muddle through with the highs and lows of lockdown life, children are also having to deal with lots of changes which they can find difficult to process which may lead to stress and anxiety.
Teaching kids mindfulness techniques can have a positive impact on their mental health and wellbeing. If you teach mindfulness to kids this can also improve their attention span, help them to calm down when they’re upset and help them to make better decisions. This can result in a far more harmonious household and less stress headaches for you too. Win win!
Work out what you want to achieve with mindfulness. Be realistic; don’t expect your household to be tantrum free with Stepford-like kids. Mindfulness can help kids to have a greater awareness of their experiences and understand their emotions, which should lead to a happier home in the long run.
Practice what you preach
It’s near impossible to teach someone something that you have no clue about. You’re probably already practicing a number of your own mindfulness techniques already (we’ve all been taking deep breaths and counting to 10 recently). Try taking 5-10 minutes out a day for some meditation practices.
Just like any new activity, if it’s fun it’s likely to last (remember that impossible diet, couch to 5k?!). Think of the things your child enjoys and work mindfulness around things he/she will engage in.
Don’t flog a dead horse
Practice some mindfulness of your own, if your child really isn’t feeling it, be aware of the situation and move on. It can wait until another time when they’re more in the mood.
Tips on mindfulness for kids
Maybe not such a great experience for Quasimodo, but paying attention to sound is a great way for kids to start with mindfulness. Let them know you’re going to play a sound and ask them to listen carefully until they can no longer hear it. Something like a bell, a chime, a singing bowl or even a phone app will be perfect.
It’s an oldie, but a goodie. A good way to get kids to concentrate on their breathing is by letting them choose their fav teddy/toy to be their breathing buddy. Ask your child to lie on their back with their teddy on their stomach, they can then focus on their toy rising and falling as they breathe in and out.
Walk the walk
We’ve been taking plenty of strolls just to get out of the house during lockdown. If you take a family walk, dedicate one minute to complete silence. Ask your child to take this time to focus on what’s going on around them. What sounds can they hear? From pigeons, dogs, wind rustling through the leaves to lawnmowers there’ll be plenty they’ll pick up on.
Encourage your child to conjure up an image of a calm and safe place. Ask them to focus on this place when things are getting too much for them. It can be like a mini holiday, think of waves lapping on the shore of a sunny sandy beach (where the sand doesn’t get in between your toes or in your sarnie), it can be anything they like!
Strike a pose!
There are some simple yoga poses that are great for mindfulness. The warrior pose is great for concentration and confidence, the peacock pose helps with acceptance of self and others and mouse pose helps to deal with feelings of shyness. Here are some great yoga poses to help kids with mindfulness.
We hope this can help you and your kids deal with some of the stresses of lockdown and give you some tools to manage those challenging moments. Lockdown or no lockdown, these are great ways to introduce mindfulness techniques which can help in any situation which can cause anxiety or stress.