Introduction to Mindfulness and Mental Well Being
We really care how your children are feeling and would love children to be happy all the time, without a worry in the world, and be able to regulate their emotions on their own. In reality this isn't always the case, and this is where mindfulness activities can be really useful. When your child is over emotional - be it angry, worried, sad, frightened or overstimulated - as teachers, parents and carers, we are there to support them calm down and feel safe.
Sometimes children need to find a way to self regulate themselves and develop their own strategies. You will have noticed what calms your own child down - cuddles, reading a book, lying under their covers - whatever it is, between you, you have found a successful strategy. Practising mindful techniques regularly will enable your child to take control of their emotions, especially when the Amygdala part of the brain takes over (fight or flight response). When that happens the part of the brain that is logical, and can solve problems, cannot always be accessed and this can lead to continued negative emotional responses.
And because we care how your children's well being, we are intending to teach them some of those helpful strategies.
The 3 Mindful M's:
Mindful Thoughts - Affirmations
Mindful Breathing - Breathing Techniques
Mindful Body - Yoga
Each day the children will be given encouraged to spend a few minutes to do their 3 Mindful M's.
Start with the affirmation - Regular use of affirmations can effectively change the way someone things about themselves as well as developing a better understanding of how their behaviour affects others. In turn this helps to develop empathy.
What to do - talk about what it might mean to the child. How they demonstrate it or when they might need to use the affirmation. For example, I am brave. Children can practise using this so that they turn a negative response into a positive one. It works well for nightmares or situations where they don't feel brave. Repeat the affirmation three times, emphasising it in different ways.
How to develop this - you could create a tub with the different affirmations in to pull one out and practise. Identify what your child or someone else in the family struggles with and put this into a positive affirmation.
Next do the mindful breathing activity - we will introduce a few different techniques so that the children can find their favourite. These need to be practised so that when the child really needs it, to calm down, then the child will find it easier to remember and use. It reduces the heart rate and relaxes the mind.
What to do - encourage your child to sit comfortably and together do the breathing technique - practise it daily and encourage your child to do the technique when they are beginning to become anxious, angry, upset or over-giddy.
How to develop this - you could make or print out some mindful breathing cards to have ready - your child could choose a different one each day. Again, you will probably find your child has a favourite. The 5 finger breathing (Take 5 resources below) is useful because it can be done discretely, by children and adults, alike in any situation. A useful video is , 'Breath with Me - Guided Breathing Meditations for Kids' click here.
Finally do the yoga - yoga relaxes but also strengthens muscles. Each move is held still and strong for a few seconds, using calm breathing and slowly changed to a new position.
What to do - use the yoga sequence cards to follow the different poses. Do it together. Encourage your child to hold the pose, using their muscles to stop them from wobbling, whilst holding the pose for the count of 3 slow breaths. Slowly move to the next pose whilst breathing normally.
How to develop this - you could learn more poses through Cosmic Yoga (click here) or by purchasing resources. The sequences that we are teaching the children come from Mariam Gates books - Good Morning Yoga and Good Night Yoga.
Guided Meditation is a lovely way to help your child to relax and incorporates mindful breathing. Relax Kids produce wonderful guided visualisations click here and CDs. The CDs can be played on a CD player as your child is settling for the night (they can also be found on other sellers such as Amazon). Also check out Cosmic Kids Peace Out click here for some online guided meditations which help children learn to relax. Another good story meditation series is from New Horizons Holistic Centre click here have some free meditations and are also available on youtube such as The Secret Treehouse click here.
Playful games to improve concentration, anxiety, and muscle tone - and just have fun with 5 minutes of quality time with your child - have a look at the Calming Games below. Most don't need much space or resources and the night time pizza is highly recommended for children who struggle to sleep at night.
Guided Touch or Massage is also a gentle and nurturing way to support your child's mental well being. In addition to helping your child to relax, in help develop the adult to child bond and provides an opportunity for quality 1:1 time with your child. The pizza game mentioned in Playful games. MORE CONTENT TO FOLLOW