Guest Blog by Ciara Ivanovic
With the UK just having entered a second lockdown, now is the time when families are likely to be experiencing confusion, panic and anxiety as parents and children struggle with the uncertainty of when they will be able to socialise with friends and family again, whether or not schools will remain open, and if lockdown will indeed officially end on December 2 or be extended.
It is therefore no wonder that according to researchers at Oxford University, parents of children aged 4-10 years have reported increases in their child’s emotional difficulties such as being unhappy, worried and clingy.
In order to support your child’s mental well-being during this challenging time, why not try mindfulness with them at home? There are many benefits to practicing mindfulness, some of which include reducing anxiety and stress and improving emotional regulation skills. Here are some of my top tips to get you started:
- Reassure children by reminding them that our feelings never stay the same - they change just like the weather. It’s reassuring to know that if we’re feeling sad or anxious this feeling won’t last forever.
- Encourage your child to stay ‘present’ remembering that we can’t change the past and we cannot force the future… One effective way of doing this is starting a gratitude journal with the aim of focusing on the positives in your life. What are you grateful for today? (a hug/a favourite meal/a sunny day/going for a walk with a friend).
- Breathe! Slow, steady breathing helps us to feel calm. Invite your child to place their hands on their tummy and slowly breathe in and out. Notice how the tummy gently moves in time with the breathing. Try this for a minute and increase the time as and when you feel your child is ready.
- Make a worry box - a useful way of taking a worry out of your head. Write (or draw) your worry down and post it in the box. At a later stage you can chat with your child about what worried them and whether or not it was worth worrying about in the first place. Often not!
- Get outdoors! Being in nature reduces the stress hormone cortisol and makes us feel happier as we reconnect with ourselves and nature. Build a den, go on a Scavenger Hunt, climb a tree, cloud-watch - engage with your senses to appreciate the natural world around you (what can you see/smell/touch/hear?)
- Give your kids opportunities to talk with you about how they’re feeling - take a walk together/ share a hot chocolate /get creative together. This prevents children from bottling things up.
- Try anything creative together such as colouring, baking, origami, puzzles, stone painting. These mindful activities use both sides of the brain helping us to feel more balanced & calm; they give one a sense of accomplishment and boost our happiness, and the creating part keeps us in the present moment.
For more tips and advice on how to practice mindfulness with your child, visit my website: www.mindful-kids.co.uk.
Ciaran Ivanovic founded Mindful Kids in 2017. She is a former Montessori teacher (Montessori Centre International) who is now following her passion of supporting children & young adult's mental well being through the use of mindfulness practices.