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Child-friendly mindfulness

In this video, we practice one way of being mindful with your children.
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Welcome back. After the last activity, I think I understand why different strategies work for the promotion and response of mental health, but I’m wondering, can we try one together right now? Absolutely, let’s try a strategy that works for both promotion and response. Have you heard of mindfulness? Yes, it is when you sit in silence with your eyes closed, cross legged for many minutes. And I find a challenging. Well, that’s one way to practice mindfulness. One way that does not work for a lot of people. It definitely doesn’t work for me. But mindfulness can be different things for different people. What’s important about mindfulness is, that you’re focusing on the present moment. Noticing what’s happening within you and around you.
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And really focusing on that moment, rather than thinking about the future or the past. So I do find that, if I’m out in nature on a hike and I’m walking in the woods, I really tune into the sound of the leaves under my feet and the wind around me. Is that mindfulness? Absolutely, that’s a great way to practice mindfulness. And wherever you feel safe and comfortable is a great place to experience living in the moment. Living in the present moment. And in Unit 2, you might have remembered that Paul told us how to breathe in, like we’re smelling a flower and breathing out, like your blowing out a candle.
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And that’s a way to make mindfulness a little bit more playful. Cause for children we need to do something a little bit different. They’re never going to sit cross-legged, still for 30 minutes. They might not even focus on walking in the Woods and noticing their footsteps. But they might need something more playful. So you can integrate mindfulness into their play. Or you can bring play into a mindfulness activity. OK, so you explained how mindfulness can be a promotion strategy. How can it be a response strategy? Mindfulness can also be used as a response strategy Because it engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which actually helps regulate your body from a stress response.
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So when you have a stress response, you may have a heightened heart rate and blood pressure and you might feel your muscles tense up. And mindfulness can actually help you to release and reduce all of those stresses. With all of this learning, I could use a little stress reduction. Could we try this right now? Yeah, let’s do a child-friendly mindfulness activity together. This way we’ll be able to see what’s different between doing a mindfulness activity with children and with adults. In Unit 5, you’ll have the opportunity to do an adult focused mindfulness activity with Leslie and Ashley from the MHPSS Collaborative.
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There are three key rules to practicing mindfulness, whether it’s by yourself, with your peers or with the children in your life. Be open and accepting. Be gentle and kind and be present. So being open and accepting means accepting whatever comes up. Being open to what you’re feeling and experiencing, and understanding that it may be different than what somebody else is experiencing. Being gentle and kind goes right along with that. It’s being kind to yourself, being gentle with yourself. Understanding that sometimes it’s just more challenging to be mindful. And finally being present. This is really the core of mindfulness. Like we talked about before.
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Mindfulness is really being in the present moment, not thinking about your To Do List or what you had for breakfast, but focusing on what you’re feeling in your body. What you’re hearing, feeling and sensing around you in that moment. OK. Be open and accepting, gentle and kind and present. Got it.
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Alright, so now let’s stand up and will do a mindfulness activity called “Super you poses”. So this is a really fun one to do with children, because they get to be their favorite superhero. So stand like a superhero, stand tall. Roll your shoulders back. Head held high. Come into your super powerful pose and then power up your superpowers by breathing deep into your belly. Breathing slowly. And breathing out slowly. Powering up your super powers in your belly. Oh, you know what I feel? I feel strong and I feel really ready. Like I can do anything. So let’s activate our first superpower. We’re going to activate our flying. So bring your arms up and back.
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Stretch them all the way out, and then just like you’re flying, bring them forward and back slowly. And as you’re flying, remember, you need to keep your superpower activated by breathing deeply and slowly into your belly.
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Notice how it feels in your body as you’re activating your flying power. Where do you feel it? Do you feel anything different? Now that we’ve been flying, maybe we can activate another superpower. Alright, let’s activate are super stretching power. So for this one you’ll reach your arms up into the Sky upon to your tippy toes. Reaching all the way up, activating your super stretch powers. Notice where you feel anything in your body. Notice anything different? As you stretch, stretch, stretch. See if you can stretch a little bit more. And remember to activate your superpower by breathing into your belly. And as you’re ready, you can come back, bring your arms down, noticing how that feels in your body.
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And then we’ll take one last superhero pose. And for this, think about your favorite superhero, maybe their power and bring yourself into that pose. Noticing how you’re feeling and continuing to move into that pose. Breathing in, and out. Activating that superpower. And then bringing yourself back.
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Carly How are you feeling? OK, first of all I should do this everyday, but let’s walk through those three key rules of mindfulness one more time. So be open and accepting. Be gentle and kind. Be present. I think the hardest one for me was be present, but I’m going to be gentle and kind with myself and not judge myself for having trouble staying present. I’m going to be open and accepting of whatever experience I’m having, and I’m going to be open and accepting of the fact that this is probably going to take practice. How did that feel for you? Below this video, there are a few ideas to get you started.

In this video, we practice one way of being mindful with your children. Other ways to practice mindfulness with your children include:

  • Breathing in the smell of the flower, out the candle
  • Taking a walk in nature and noticing the present moment.
  • Mindful eating
  • Mindful drawing
  • Making a mindful “snow” globe
  • Sensory mindfulness – Give something, like a small fruit to each child, then practice observing it using each of the five senses. You can repeat this activity with multiple objects, or even the same one over and over again: Hearing, Smelling, Tasting, Feeling, Hearing (if possible!)
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