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 →
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 childrencompletely 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?) Orwe can help them build their resilience and cope with the ‘bad things and people’ in this world. Continue reading →
We usually focus on the adults when we talk about stress but research shows that children also experience stress from both external and internal factors.
Pressures of technology, computer gaming, exam results, hormonal changes and changes in family settings can initiate the flight or fight response which we refer to as ‘acute stress’.
The difference between adults and children is that (in most cases) adults know how to take steps to address their stress symptoms, express their emotions and calm their minds. In the case of children to teens, this may not always be the case and, if not addressed, acute stress can lead to chronic stress symptoms.
Teaching children or teens how to practice mindfulness and meditation has become a hot topic in recent years and a growing uptake of these practices have illustrated some interesting results, with improvements in: • Health and emotional well-being • Attendance rates at schools • Focus and concentration skills – aiding study • Improvement in sleep patterns
If you are thinking about teaching your children some of these simple techniques, here are a few suggestions to help you get started.
Some top tips to get started
Are you calm?
First of all – ensure that you are in a calm state. Children tend to reflect the mood and energy of those adults around them and can act like little mirrors if you are in a bad mood. If you are calm, they are in a better position to mirror that.
Introduce mindfulness in day to day activities
Using the senses (touch, sight, taste, smell or sound), encourage your children and teens to choose one of these and focus on it fully during a normal daily activity like eating, drinking or walking.
They tend to enjoy learning to relax when they are lying down in bed and it is an easier way for the adult to introduce the idea of relaxing with the breath and the body when they are in this natural position.
Instead of just calling it ‘meditation’, for younger children call it a ‘meditation game’ – the latter word will encourage more enthusiasm and interest. Then you can use their imagination to create a favourite place they can imagine being in with or without their friends.
Mindfulness meditation is a good way to engage this age group, by giving them simple words to meditate with. These can be as simple as ‘just for this moment I will not worry/be angry’ to the more Buddhist approach of [breathing in] ‘my body is like a mountain, [breathing out] ‘my body is strong’.
The next step The Connected KidsTM programme is based on the international best selling booking – ‘Calm Kids – help children relax with mindful activities’ by Lorraine E Murray. Lorraine has been teaching meditation for over 10 years whilst studying the effects on all age groups. Connected KidsTM now offers online and in-person training (worldwide) for parents or adults working with children – teaching them how to help children learn meditation. Lorraine’s 2nd book (Connected Kids) illustrates how teaching meditation to kids can help children on the autistic spectrum, with ADHD or other special needs.
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 →
I’m reflecting on an interesting time I had teaching our level 1 course in London last weekend. I’ve taught there a few times before and it’s a lovely centre in north west London that helps kids with special need. I was teaching our Connected Kids level 1 course based on my book ‘Calm Kids – help children relax with mindful activities’. This course shows adults how to teach their kids meditation.