Have kids, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. When these little blessings hit the terrible two’s, things get real! We’ve held them and nurtured them from their first breath and it seems when they hit a certain age, toddler-hood, they turn into little imps running around controlling the universe. Oh, the tantrums!
And we as parents are trying every which way, we can to create some peace in our own minds, so we don’t eventually snap under the pressure. In addition to salvaging what’s left of our own sanity, the addition of mindfulness for toddlers might just be the trick!
By now most of the planet has heard of the benefits of mindfulness. With Buddhist roots, approach to life is reaching every aspect of life by storm, calming storm that is, but who would have thought it appropriate for the little tots?
Let’s face it, our tiny little creations, the people we hope will be the better versions of ourselves, can bring terror to our eyes in a fraction of a second. And for the life of us, we can’t figure out why.
We spend our days on pins and needles wondering what’s going to cause the next floor-flopping, food tossing, screaming fit. Did you give the little youngster the green bowl instead of the red one?
Because last night it was clear the red one was the absolute favourite. You probably wouldn’t let the wee one poke her grubby little snot covered fingers in every plate at the dinner table, right?
Or maybe you wouldn’t let her lick all the cheese puffs and put them back in the bag, one by one, with all the cheese sucked off. Oh, cruel you.
Our precious little ones are learning, whether we are always aware of it or not. Every single day they learn something else, and sometimes it’s over-stimulating. They are learning how to be people and make decisions and, as luck would have it, they are discovering they have their own opinions. Opinions about… well, about Everything. And their little attitudes change on a dime.
Mindfulness for toddlers can help tame these little terrorising tantrums. Teaching your young child to employ mindfulness techniques (although they won’t recognise them as such) will make their lives easier and more productive and joyful.
Mindfulness makes a habit of living in the now, experiencing life as it happens, rather than getting by on autopilot and being less aware of cause and effect. In the appreciable short-term, it helps a child learn appropriate responses to differing stimuli.
While all these mindfulness techniques for toddler may not be effective in the middle of a full-blown tantrum, you’ll be able to mix and match which ones are most helpful in time. It’s important to incorporate mindfulness for toddlers’ exercises during every mood, not just as a “fix all” for the times of distress.
The key here is to remember these tiny people are feeding off your energy a lot of the time, so make sure you participate in the same way, with calming efforts and released anxiety. Toddles are very receptive to your tone of voice as well as non-verbal cues.
Routine, Routine, Routine
Chaos begets chaos. Try your best to have scheduled activities, meals and sleep times. Life happens and schedules change, but keeping continuity creates a safe and comfortable environment, that encourages steady focus.
Classical (especially Baroque) music works wonders, and different styles of orchestra aid in appropriate levels of excitement or calm during the day. A rowdy playlist during the morning helps wake up in a good mood while a slower playlist offering sonatas assist in a calming effect for the bedtime routine. Before you know it your little one will be able to predict and participate in what part of their schedule comes next at the beginning of any given piece of music.
Nature is beautiful. Explore it! Green is a soothing colour and when you bring the littleness outside, breathe in the fresh air, and teach them all about the great outdoors, they love it!
Soft touches on leaves, exploring tiny creatures like ants and caterpillars, observing their slow and steady movements, it all creates order and peace.
Not to mention, it wears them out a little making nap times and bedtime more tolerable. It’s ever important for them to have an outlet for their incredible amounts of boundless energy.
Again, mindfulness is about focus, so try to actively engage with them, rather than propping them in front of a screen while you check your Facebook. In mindfulness training, as in all child learning, example is the best teacher.
Toddler massages and soothing strokes on their limbs are awesome. Add in a lower tone than normal or humming a soft tune and trace their eyebrows with your fingertips (which makes their tiny eyelids flutter and even close) creates the perfect environment for quiet time. These often help during a meltdown as well.
Maybe your child isn’t a baby anymore, but they still respond to rhythmic movement. Gentle rocking in your arms or in a rocking chair is ultra-soothing. Remember how you used to sooth your baby with just your heartbeat? That rhythm is what you’re going for here.
When all else fails, divert attention to another object. Little trikes are focused on whatever is at hand, be it a good or bad mood, their attention is in the here and now. Especially in the middle of a tirade, you can move their attention to something more pleasant or even funny. The first attempt may not work, but after a few tries your child may just let the new emotion stick.
These are just a few, but you can incorporate so many others, like tasting and breathing exercises. Emojis are super popular and help the child see the difference in emotions, and you can discuss how to react to these emotions.
Mindfulness for toddlers is important for both parent and child. You may not be able to totally avoid all the hysterics of the toddler, but you can certainly divert a great deal of them.
Odds are good that you’ve heard the term mindfulness, but you may be wondering what is it and is this right for my family.
The dictionary defines mindfulness as the practice of being aware of your body and your feelings in the present moment.
Children who learn mindfulness practices during school showed improved grades, better coping skills, and better patience.
So, how do you get started?
Try some of the following exercises.
First, teach your child to become aware of her body.
Do some exercises where she focuses on one muscle at a time.
Have her flex that muscle for a count of 5 seconds and then slowly release it for another 5 seconds.
This will teach her about her body in space and will also teach her how to relax her body when needed.
Take a mindful walk.
Be aware of your surroundings.
Take in the scents.
Take in the smells.
Take in the sights.
Listen for a particular sound.
How long do you hear that sound in the air before you can’t hear it any longer?
What does your body feel like as you were walking through the park or through the outdoors?
Children can learn to eat mindfully by getting rid of all distractions and focusing on the food.
What does it look like? What color is it?
What are the tastes?
What are the textures?
How do those textures change as you swallow it?
Pay attention to your mouth as you’re eating, as you’re chewing, and as the food goes down into your stomach.
Make sure when you have a conversation with your child that you’re listening mindfully.
Get rid of all distractions.
Look her in the eye as she’s talking.
Be aware of her body movements.
Be aware of her tone.
Focus on the actual words that she’s saying and how those words make you feel.
Don’t keep thinking about what you’re going to say next.
Make sure that she feels heard.
Make sure that she feels understood.
However, you choose to do it, being present and being in the moment has great benefits for the entire family.
As we all know, children learn what they see at home, so if you can embody these practices themselves, it’ll definitely benefit your child too.
Hello everyone! Welcome to the Cosmic Kids Zen Den.
This where we help our minds stay healthy and happy.
Let's begin by getting comfy. Sitting on our bottoms, legs crossed with a long straight back.
We rest our hands on our knees and take a big deep breath. In through our nose and out through our mouth.
Aaaaah! That's better!
Now let's get the Zen Den ready so we can really enjoy it!
Let's have some colour in here!
Oh! Lots of great colours to choose from!
Let's pick a couple that help us feel relaxed.
This lovely light blue would be nice.
Oh and what about mixing it with something.
Let's go for the violet colour.
There we go.
Oh these look interesting!
Mmm that could be quite nice.
Er! Not sure about that.
Ah yes - let's smell the freshly baked cakes.
Fresh from the oven and still warm.
In our Zen Den today, we have a special game.
It's a really good way to spot how our mind can jump around, even when we are concentrating on something.
And the game is called....
Super Power LISTENING!
This is how it works...
I am going to make a few sounds using some things I found here in the Cosmic Kids Zen Den. ...
and you are going to use your power listening to work out what the sounds are.
Now a top tip...
You can boost your power by listening to SUPERPOWER listening, by closing your eyes.
This makes your listening powers even more amazing!
You decide how you want to play, simple power listening or going up a level to SUPERPOWER listening.
Just see if you can focus on the sound, then have a guess at what you think it is.
Here comes the first sound so switch on your power listening now and if you want to take it to the superpower level close your eyes as well!
Here we go! (Coins jangling)
Did you get it?
Let's listen one more time to double check. (Coins jangling rpt) There.
Did you get it?
And did you notice if your mind started to think of anything else while you were listening?
If you do notice this happening, see if you can just come back to the listening again.
Let's try a new sound and see how you get on with this one! (Paper scrunching)
Ooh! Let's have it again!
(Paper scrunching rpt)
There we go.
Could you tell what it is?
The next sound is ready.
Can you guess what this one is? (Pages turning)
Let's have a quick repeat of it! (Pages turning)
And what about this one? (Pepper grinding)
And again? (Pepper grinding)
Now finally this one. (Scribbling pen)
And one more time... (Scribbling pen)
So what did you think those sounds were?
Could you guess using your power listening or your superpower listening?
And did your mind stay on the sounds or did it want to jump to something else?
Could you notice that?
It's great to be able to use superpower listening because it helps you learn how to focus like a superhero.
They always use this skill to make their hearing or sight go a lot further and now
YOU know how to do it too!
This means you'll be able to learn stuff really quickly
You'll be able to solve problems and do really clever things like remembering how to spell long words like supercalafragalisticexpealadocious and do crazy maths problems like 13 times 13!
Training your concentration is huge and a brilliant thing to do.
But if you are a kid and you're doing this, there's a good chance you'll master it before the grown-ups!
So keep up the practice and soon you will become a true Cosmic Kids Zen Den master!