Support during the coronavirus crisis
During this stressful and cooped-up time, don’t let the pressure of parenting get you down. Try these simple tips and tricks, formulated by researchers and NHS mental health experts, which are backed by science and proven to work with families
In our April and May newsletters, we celebrated the children’s wonderful distance learning whilst we were starting to adjust to living and learning very differently. As the focus continues on looking after our physical health, we wanted to share some simple ideas about how we can look after our emotional well-being using mindfulness.
Mindfulness means slowing down and really noticing what is happening in the here and now and has many benefits from helping us to feel calm and grounded to improved sleep. We know that when children feel calm they feel better able to focus, problem solve and respond rather than react.
“Mindfulness...provides a life skill that pupils can come back to time after time, equipping them to handle their own thoughts and feelings, teaching them to concentrate, withstand distractions and be more confident”
Claire Kelly, Mindfulness in Schools Project
Daily mindful breathing and grounding activities can really help children to overcome worry, frustration and negative self-talk. Activities like these help us to take slow, deep breaths which in turn relaxes and calms our brain and body.
Some children may prefer quiet and reflective activities whereas others will need to engage their whole bodies, many will need a bit of both! You could try taking a mindful minute, playing stretching games or stay as still as you can and simply watch the clouds go by together (can you spot any shapes amongst the clouds?).
Have a go at going on a ‘nature safari’ or try ‘mindful’ walking as part of your daily exercise. It’s amazing what you notice when you really tune into what is happening around you – listen to the sound of the ground beneath your feet, the birds singing, the wind in the trees, the feel of the breeze on your face, your own heartbeat. There is a great video about how to do this at www.cosmickids.com/video/zen-den-mindful-walking.
If it is not practical to go outside, encourage your child to find somewhere quiet and comfortable, lie on their back and close their eyes, read a guided mediation to them and help them to relax their muscles…
There are many mindful activities on online, Cbeebies have 7 activities for helping children feel calm including ‘stretch it out’ and ‘calming sounds’. For older children, there is “How to BOSS being stuck at home” and Mrs T’s top tips for mindfulness on Cbbc newsround.
There are also apps like ‘Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame’ where you can help your monster friend to calm down. There is also the ‘Calm’ app which offers relaxing stories to help children to fall to sleep easier.
There are many mindful art and craft activities that support slow, deep breathing and relaxation including making a dragon breather, a calm down bottle and mindful colouring in – be creative and use any materials you have at home. Have a look at pinterest or twinkl for more ideas.
Research shows that engaging with mindfulness helps children and adults develop resilience - the ability to cope better with life’s up’s and down’s!
Being resilient does not mean your child will not feel upset or struggle when they make a mistake or things go wrong (we are all human and this is a normal!). Resilience is what enables us to keep trying and not give up when things get tough!
Let your child know that we all make mistakes, that learning new things can be tough and it’s okay to ask for help – this is how we ALL learn and grow!
Every child is different, some children will find these activities easier than others, try to make them as fun as possible and explore what works best for them and you - even the smallest steps are progress!
The great news is that resilience is not something that we either have or do not have, it is a skill that we can continue to develop. Practise checking in with your child and using positive self-talk, share examples of when you have found something tricky but kept on trying. These activities not only help us with the here and now…they are skills for life!
We would love to see examples of how you are practising mindfulness and showing resilience at home - we will also be sharing more helpful ideas on our facebook page.
Please remember we are here to support you every step of the way with your child’s distance learning.