Creating a space to teach mindfulness to kids with autism
We were asked a question about the types of tools people could use if they wanted to teach their kids (who are on the autistic spectrum) how to feel calmer and less stressed using mindful activities.
” I will be moving into a purpose built unit for children with autism shortly and I have to kit out the sensory room. I’m wondering if you can suggest anything in particular that would be beneficial.”
We write about this subject all the time…particularly in the 2nd book – “Connected Kids‘.
However we have taught thousands of people how to teach kids meditation, and thought that many of our Connected Kids Tutors would have great, practical advice.
We were right!
Here are some wonderful ideas that may help your kids on the spectrum bring their energy back into balance with meditation and mindfulness.
Like me you have probably become aware of the #MeToo campaign which highlights the level of sexual harassment that women experience throughout their lives.
As we can see, it has been an underlying epidemic that females have tolerated for thousands of years in all areas of life.
But I’m uncomfortable with the idea of saying #MeToo and adding my voice to social media.
I don’t deny that I’ve had some unsavoury and traumatising experiences growing up that I would rather forget. My yoga and meditation practice has (and continues) to help me heal from this.
However the #MeToo campaign leaves me hanging. It feels a little bit like watching a tragedy on the news and feeling helpless to ease the pain of those involved. I observe friends saying #MeToo on social media and then I start to worry and wonder about them and their experiences.
It also hangs guilt and shame on the wrong shoulders – of the decent boys, teens and men who don’t want to treat women that way. Perhaps If I were a man, maybe I would lower my gaze and no longer feel confident engaging with females.
But if I sit and reflect on the #MeToo campaign through my meditation practice, I have a sense that …
Helping kids return to school with less anxiety (and more mindfulness)
In Scotland our schools have already returned after the summer break, but in the rest of the UK (and perhaps worldwide) children and teens will be gearing up for their return.
Some will feel excited about the prospect of a new school or new term. However many will feel anxious.
Cast your mind back to what school was like for you growing up and perhaps it will help you access some empathy and compassion for the young people in your life.
Returning back to school is a challenge for many, but we can give our kids some mindful skills to help them negotiate this tricky time.
One of my friends is an experienced mindfulness teacher.
She sent me her weekly newsletter and within that there is mention of Dr Rick Hanson – the psychologist – with a link to one of his excellent presentations.
It was so good I thought I would include it in my regular blog (see below).
But it got me thinking.
Dr Hanson talks about the importance of him learning meditation skills, especially to help him recover from the difficult times he had growing up – you know the regular growing pains most of us go through and the feeling of not fitting in or being quite good enough.
He talks about how mindfulness has helped fill the ‘hole in his heart’ that these experiences created. Continue reading
(Guest blog written by one of our Connected Kids Level 1 Students from Denmark…)
Many children with ADHD have difficulty falling asleep at night, and parents of children with ADHD often see that their children rarely seem to be rested when it is time to go to school.
When children go to school or kindergarten feeling tired, it means that their internal battery is not fully charged. They get into conflict more easily, find it harder to stay focused, and their emotions are unstable because of a poor night’s sleep.
At the moment the world is quite a turbulent place. If we think our children are too innocent or immune to the stories coming out in the media each day – think again.
Every time we listen to the news on the radio, watch it on TV or surf social media and the internet when our kids are around – they absorb what they hear and see. Even if they don’t understand it.
So we have a choice. We can either shield children completely from the world around them (but how do we stop this going on in the playground at school, sometimes in the classroom and at sleepovers?) Or we can help them build their resilience and cope with the ‘bad things and people’ in this world. Continue reading
Some of you may remember that several years ago I attended an Educator’s retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh.
During the retreat we learned some mindfulness songs for kids – this was one of my favourites.
Acknowledging the breath can be a difficult concept for kids to grasp. This breathing meditation video for kids gives a great example of actions, words and song to engage their interest.
By helping kids of all ages to notice their breath they have a self-care skill that can help them move out of fight/flight/freeze and lower anxiety levels.
Yoga and Mindful Activities for Anger in Kids
We are delighted to share some words of wisdom written by one of our Connected Kids Tutors, Yvonne Payne.
Yvonne has been working with children using mindful activities and yoga to help them focus and manage strong emotions such as anger.
Yvonne had been telling us about 2 different sessions that were creative and inspirational so we asked her to share this direct experience with you. We hope you find it useful.
“I’ve been working with two boys – each on a 121 basis. The journey so far has helped me change my approach to yoga and meditation – helping me to teach in an intuitive way.
Here’s an insight into their background.” Continue reading
Emotional vs Academic Intelligence
The other week we caught the end of the TV show ‘Child Genius’ – where children with (usually) a high score on Mensa take part in a quiz to become the Child Genius for that year.
These kids demonstrate an amazing array of skills – from their ability to remember facts to computing arithmetic sums at lightening speed. It was impressive.
What was not so impressive was watching the stress these children experienced. The emotions they were feeling were bubbling under the surface (some cried) and yet the parents seemed to focus on scores and winning. Continue reading
Negativity Bias and Mindfulness
I was giving a talk recently (I do a few of these online talks
to help inform, educate and give you the confidence to start teaching kids/teens meditation) and I came across a term ‘negativity bias
It means that our brain and body constantly scan the environment for threats. If we detect a threat, we manage it as it activates our stress response (fight/flight/freeze) – which is designed to keep us alive.
What it means is that we are hardwired (neurologically speaking) to seek out the negative in our life experiences more easily than the positive ones.
As Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist and author of “Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom” argues that our brains are like Velcro for negative experiences, and Teflon for positive ones.
I found this fascinating.