My last blog post focused mainly on adults but mindfulness can benefit children too. The class I took to learn mindfulness was designed to teach us so that we could go one to teach children in a classroom or their lives and help them calm before exams or deal with other stresses in their lives. To learn to be more caring and compassionate to themselves and others. I have also read books on using this to help children. As a result I have created a session I use with children when they become overwhelmed or anxious. Even some with ADHD.
With children I have them take their open hand with thumb towards their face and begin at the top of their head in the center. I call it their shark fin. They are to slowly bring shark fin down from the top of their head to their stomach saying SHH. Then deep breath in and back to top of head again. We do this 3 times. After the third time shark fin has called their super hero (whatever that is for them) Super hero comes and brings his/ her shield and completely surrounds the child. If there is an adult helping them the adult and child are inside the shield.When inside the shield it is quiet, safe and they are protected. It is calm, quiet and peaceful. They focus on their breath by feeling their abdomen or stomach. If the adult is present they must also be in a calm state and speak softly and calmly. It helps if the adult does the breaths when the child does so both are relaxed. Be silent at first and focus on the breaths. As you see the child relaxing you can calmly discuss the situation causing their stress by asking them to think of ways they or someone else could have handled it differently.Not with you lecturing or telling them how to solve the situation. Give them time to reflect and problem solve themselves as this will teach them to do that in the future when things occur and we aren’t there to assist. I have also told children that if they need quiet time as they start to feel angry, overwhelmed or stressed to raise their hand to shark fin position and it will be a signal to me that they need quiet time and I will stop what I am doing with them and grant them time. This may help them prevent bad behavior, melt downs or loss of control if they learn to self calm before reaching that point.
Another way I work with a child is to have them put their hand on my stomach and mine on theirs and try to match our breaths. It not only calms but brings a sense of closeness with the child.
This can help children calm but also teach them to be kind and gentle to themselves and others as even their self talk is to be kind and non judgemental and as we work with them we also need to reflect that.
While they are calm is also a good time to involve their senses and explore mindful eating , walking or observing their surroundings. Being outside and seeing not just the trees but the different color, the birds the rustle of the leaves. To teach them to be in the moment which in turn will help them learn to focus and concentrate better.
I have used this with a child with ADHD and could visibly see her body calming with the breaths.
I hope you find this helpful and you and your children or those you work with can enjoy peaceful times together.