Super Heros In Training

Super Heroes in Training: How Mindfulness can be used as a tool to empower children

Every parent/guardian/care giver knows kids encounter sleepless nights, mood swings, trepidation for unexpected outcomes as they move to learn and understand the world. And, as they are moving to develop language and understand emotion they cannot label, there can be internal confusion. Mindfulness can be a powerful tool in empowering children of all ages to feel comfortable within their bodies, settling their thoughts, and taking action with intention. Some would even call it a superpower. And, face it, in this day and age, who doesn't couldn't use a little super power to help get through.

Introducing simple mindful techniques into your child's daily life will help them regain a sense of calm and make you a superhero. 

Superhero training step one:  Always start with the breath
Breath is often one of the first indications we are experiencing fight or flight (aka, fear and/or uncertainty) and by using this as a cue to slow down we can reset our internal landscape from this state to a state of greater calm. Belly breathing is a great tool for children (and their adults, alike!). There are a number of ways to initiate and continue this practice, but below are the basic steps:

  • Come to a comfortable seated or laying down position.

  • Place both hands on the belly.

  • With the inhale, fill the belly and with the exhale feel the belly move to the spine, supported by the ground or the bones of the spine, depending on positioning.

  • Repeat 5-8 times or until a sense of calm starts to emerge.

Superhero training step two: Walk with awareness
Whether the situation you are guiding your child or another beloved through is worry about a future action or event or a past situation, chances are they are in a safe place within their current environment. Taking your child or beloved out of the state of worry about past or future events and bringing them to the present moment can be a helpful tool in alleviating stress. (For more specifics on this and how to better guide your child/beloved through traumatic experiences or recurring fears, seek the assistance of a medical doctor or mental health professional.)

  • Ask your child to share with you all they see, feel, smell and can touch. Ask them to describe it as fully as possible. (This works anywhere, but is best when practiced in gardens, on nature walks, and other outdoor settings.)

  • Listen completely to their observations while allowing them to explore.

  • Asking what else and cueing them to share discoveries of their own sensations in their own language notice how they interact with their environment and provide supportive language and dialogue as they guide you through their experience.

Up until this point in our superhero training we have been working on calming the internal landscape of your child/beloved and finding a present moment of calm. These practices can be used anytime, anywhere to help alleviate a sense of powerlessness and is a powerful one-two combo for all superheros. But, how do we empower children/beloveds to move with calm through the state of agitation with confidence and awareness? That's easy, thorough visualization. 

Superhero training step three: Visualize how to improve the setting/situation
There are a number of visualization techniques and you can confer with your child's/beloved's doctor on the best ways to guide them through this process if there is trauma or a recurring theme of dis-ease. However, below is a simple technique for taking this walk from observation to actionable change.

  • In this space or in another space where your child/beloved feels safe, ask them to close their eyes and share with all they remember about the space they explored.

  • Ask them what they loved and what they would like to change about the surroundings.

  • Ask them to see themselves making the changes they would like to see.

  • When they are done describing the changes they would make, ask them if there is one thing they think is possible for them to actually change and put a plan together to help them take action.

  • Then, take action with them. Whether it is cleaning up trash from the side of a trail, to volunteering at an animal shelter for a day, educate yourself on how to safely involve your child/beloved in their plan to make a change for the better and go with them. The act, no matter how small, will cultivate a sense of strength, confidence and a compassionate way to interact with the world that will provide returns for many years to come.

RJ teaches Yogi Kids and Teen/Tween Yoga on Tuesday nights. She is also hosting our Kids Empowerment Camp, July 30-Aug 3!

Emily Behr