One of the greatest resources your children have and that you have to give to them is yourself. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle, a daycare worker, etc. – if you are around children in any capacity, you need offer nothing more than your conscious, mindful presence to make a positive impact.
And the beauty of this – which you already know if you are around children in any capacity – is that what you give to them comes back to you a thousand-fold. What you nurture in them is also nurtured in you.
Commit to 20-30 minutes a day – whatever you can – of mindful, conscious time together. Your littlest ones will, by necessity, require even more than this.
- Stay at home and play games
- Play dress up
- Build forts
- Put an a Yoga DVD and do yoga together
- Read together and act out the stories
- Head outdoors! Go to the park
- Take a walk in your neighborhood
- Explore your own backyard, letting your child take all of the time they want to stop and look and ask questions and explore.
- Got older kids? Take them to a rock climbing wall
- Go bike riding or running
- Take a yoga class or zumba
- Take a martial arts class
- Visit museums or art galleries
- Go see a play
- Cook together – create a special lunch or dinner at home, prepare the grocery list, shop together for all of the ingredients.
It doesn’t matter what you do, it only matters that you are fully present with them and responding with appropriate mirroring, curiosity and support. Ideally, you let them lead the play, game or exploration. Example: doing yoga – let them choose the yoga poses and you follow; when playing pretend – let them decide who, what, where, how and build on what they wish to express and act out; during an outing – focus and follow what interests them. In this way, you value their thinking and support their creativity. They feel fully seen, heard and “gotten”. That is the present you bestow when you are fully present to their process. It lays the foundation for authentic self-esteem and self-regulation.
Heading into the New Year is a great time to think about what changes and additions you can make to your lifestyle to support your child’s social emotional development.
Here are a few or our favorite things – simple things we feel can help your kids, students, and your family cultivate the healthy habits of mindfulness and self care and nurture emotional intelligence and self-awareness. Some of these tools and references are new, others have been around a while. Enjoy!
1. Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children, by Thich Naht Hahn
This book is a daily reference for me. I find it just as powerful a resource for my own daily challenges and questions as I do a guide for working with children – one that I return to again and again. My favorite suggestion from this book is the Mindfulness Bell. It can be used in so many wonderful ways!
2. Yoga 4 Classrooms Yoga Card Deck
“Tools for Learning. Lessons for Life.” Childlight Yoga & Yoga 4 Classrooms have created a fun, easy-to-use deck of 67 yoga cards for kids. These beautiful, colorful cards provide 200 enriching yoga-based activities to support children’s physical, cognitive, social and emotional wellness.
3. Yoga Skills for Youth Peacemakers DVD, Shanti Generation
If there was ever a time when our youth and teens needed the focus, balance, discrimination, and self-awareness that a solid yoga practice can help us achieve- it’s now. Shanti Generation is leading the movement with their Youth Peacemaker’s Training and their youth/teen Yoga DVD: Yoga Skills for Youth Peacemakers.
4. Your True Nature – Advice From Nature, Cards & Posters
Here’s some Advice from a Bison: Stand your ground / Have a tough hide / Keep moving on / Cherish wide open spaces / Have a strong spirit / Roam wild and free / Let the chips fall where they may
I love this company. I love everything they make. And if you spend $30 with them right now, they will plant a tree on your behalf through the group Trees, Water, & People. A gift that multiplies!
5. Eve Kodiak/ Sound Intelligence
Eve Kodiak was trained at Harvard & the New England Conservatory of music. She’s also a Licensed Brain Gym Practitioner. What is most amazing about Eve Kodiak is the music she creates. One of our favorites is a sensory integration collection for children “Feelin’ Free,” a series of songs & stories”with developmental movement choreographed to improvisational piano music and catchy tunes and lyrics.”
6. The Learning Station and Snatam Kaur: Feeling Good Today/ CD Downloadable Music – Create Your Own CD’s
If there is anything more fun than putting Tappy, Tappy on the Lappy to movement with a bunch of 5-year-olds, I haven’t come across it yet. One of Wendy’s favorite activities is going through The Learning Station CD’s and putting each of the songs to movement. I have no idea how many she has choreographed yet, but every time she puts together a new one, it’s inevitably a hit with the kids in her classes (and mine).
You can download their CD’s in full directly from the site
“I am Happy, I am Good” is my favorite children’s circle time song. We sing it multiple times to set the tone in every kids’ class I teach. And, without fail, we feel happy by the time we’ve finished the first line. This little song uplifts kids of all ages (and that means 0-99). There are simple movements that accompany the tune and we made up a few extras, just for fun!
Wishing You and Yours a Healthy, Happy New Year!
The Move with Me Team