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.
Mindfulness and the holidays
The summer holidays can be a long time to spend with your kids.
You love them but your whole routine can change and even though holidays are meant to be enjoyable, they can be a little bit stressful too!
So here are some tips and ideas to help you keep up your meditation practice and help your kids practise mindfulness during the summer break.
(Photo courtesy of Jennifer Furtney Miller – “Here is my 5 year old son meditating in the pool. Trying to compose himself during a conflict with his 7 year old sister. We love this photo. He often joins us at 6am to meditate too. Namaste.”) Continue reading
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
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a condition very close to my heart as I see kids who benefit from learning easy, simple mindful activities that help them out of their stressed state.
They enter that state very easily as they basically live there. It’s not an easy existence and while I don’t think meditation is the/only answer, I do feel we need to give kids/young adults experiencing this, all the help they can.
Plus we need to be informed and make informed decisions.
A very kind person, Patricia Sarmiento, at public health corps, sent me some really useful information which I hope you can share.
Creating a comfortable, home environment for kids with ADHD >>>
Talking to your kids teachers about ADHD >>>
Helpful activities for ADHD >>>
Plus my own blog piece I did a few months ago …
Teaching kids with ADHD how to feel calm with meditation >>>
With 6.4 million children in the USA and 132,000 children in the UK having been diagnosed with ADHD… something has got to change.
In the last 12 months, I’ve witnessed a huge increase in the interest we have in teaching children mindfulness.
Compared to how this was 12 years ago when I first had a hunch we should be doing this… well it is simply astounding.
I was never formally taught mindfulness. My meditation teacher, the late Kim McManus, taught meditation groups to help with spiritual development. However the by-products of this were improved self esteem, energy levels and an amazing sense of trust in our heart-felt intuition. But she didn’t call it mindfulness – she called it meditation.
I didn’t think there was a difference until I was on a forum in the USA discussing the subject with someone who quickly corrected me when I used the word ‘meditation’; it was ‘mindfulness’ we were teaching, not ‘meditation’. The latter was seen as being religious whereas mindfulness was not – I found this fascinating that such a difference existed!
So what is mindfulness and how does it differ to meditation?
For a long time I’ve been banging on about children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) moving and fidgeting because they are ungrounded and the movement is their way of trying to rebalance – not intentionally be disruptive.
A recent study now shows that kids with ADHD must move to learn. At last we are all waking up to this – hurrah!
Many of us have felt this for a long time yet society has tried to control it with drugs or labelling them as disruptive. This research shows us that there is another way. Collectively we must wake up to this and see what these kids are teaching us!
So how can meditation help – surely that involves sitting still! (not initially) Continue reading
So as you can imagine, I live and breathe anything to do with teaching kids meditation, children’s mental health and (teen’s) wellbeing. As a result, I collect a lot of information on this.
If you are on our Facebook page, Twitter or Calm Kids group on FB, then you’ll know that we have become a ‘library’ (so to speak) of useful articles and information, tips and ideas on these subjects).
So I felt it was high time to put many of them in one easy to find place.
Toddlers tantrums are difficult to manage as they can often go
from 0 to 100 in the space of a few seconds. This roller coaster of emotion can be difficult to manage at the best of times, never mind if you are a stressed out parent or educator.
The idea that toddlers will sit for long periods of time meditating may be a challenge, but we can help them use mindfulness tools to recognise the signal their bodies give them before the meltdown begins.
In class, I teach students about the body and how it is a useful barometer of our emotional state. Most of the time we don’t pay attention to it until it is uncomfortable or in pain and even then we take painkillers rather than tuning into the body’s needs.
Just as we teach toddlers to recognise the signals they get from their body during potty training, we can teach them to be aware of the signals in their body that they are unhappy before it reaches a point of no return; aka a tantrum.
Here are some useful tips that you might like to try in helping your toddlers learn meditation and become more mindful. Continue reading