Developing Resilient Kids
Over the last month, we have incorporated new Mindful Breathing techniques as a self help tool to regulate big emotions for little peeps.
What is mindful breathing and how is it different to regular breathing?
Mindful breathing is an intentional meditation practice focusing on breathwork and state of mind.
Regular breathing is what is called “Autopilot” breathing. When we feel stressed we have the tendency to hold our breathe and forget to take a breath. This sends our brain waves into a state of fight or flight. In this state we can’t listen or see reason, because our blood flow has left our brain and flowed to our limbs… ready for flight. To change our brain waves into the state of rest and restore, we need to slow our breath to tap into our parasympathetic nervous system.
The idea of mindful breathing is to regulate our emotions and self soothe. We achieve this by simply focusing on our natural rhythm and flow; and the way it feels on each inhale and exhale.
How do we teach the dolphin children this essential and life-enhancing skill?
Children learn through repetition, so we created a mindful breathing board with pictures, to give children a visual explanation of what breathing technique we will be doing together at group time.
Imagine you are holding a candle. Take a long breath in, and slowly blow the air toward the candle. You want to make your candle flame wiggle, but…DON’T blow it out. Loong breath in, slow breath out, Loong breath in…Now blow your candle out!
Make your mouth into an ‘O’. Take a long breath in like you are breathing through a straw. As you let it out HISS like a snake. Make the ‘SSSS’ sound for as long as you can.
Sit up tall and hold your body still, make bunny paws with your hands. Take a quick breath in through your nose “sniff, sniff, sniff” then let the air all the way out.
Imagine a flower in front of you, it’s the most beautiful flower you’ve ever seen. Take a long sniff in through your nose, and let all the air out through your mouth.
Be a bumblebee
Sit up as tall as you can, make bumble bee wings, using your elbows, wiggle your wings all around, and flap them up and down. Take a deep breath in, and buzz as you let it all out.
“Children who practice mindfulness are better able to self-regulate, have improved social skills, sleep better, and demonstrate higher self-esteem.”
When we teach mindfulness to kids, we give them the tools they need to build confidence, cope with stress, and relate to uncomfortable or challenging moments. The earlier we do so in their young lives, the greater the opportunity to help them cultivate resilience and develop and refine their mindfulness practice as they mature.
Teaching mindfulness to kids can also help shape three critical skills developed in early childhood:
- Paying attention and remembering information;
- Shifting back and forth between tasks; and
- Behaving appropriately with others.
These abilities are known as executive functions and they are essential for more advanced tasks like planning, reasoning, problem-solving, and positive social relationships.
Introducing these mindful breathing practices to children can help them navigate through tough feelings in their day-to-day life-
How to Use It in the Moment
When tough feelings come, help them through their favourite breathing exercise with the following steps:
- Connect: Get down to their level and connect. Try looking them in the eye or gently touching their shoulder.
- Name the feelings: Sometimes big feelings like anger or disappointment can feel scary, so acknowledge their big feelings to help them understand what’s happening.
- Find a quiet space: Whether it’s a cosy spot in their bedroom or a café corner, a quiet space lets them step away from the situation and gives them a little bit of privacy to gather themselves and calm down.
- Breathe together: Start doing the breathing exercise together. Help them by talking through each step.
- Give them a comforting cuddle : Some children welcome a hug, but others may need a moment to settle down.
Role modelling mindful breathing yourself
Children are keen observers, and when they see you using breathing to calm yourself, they’ll learn that this is a good way to manage big feelings.
It may take a little time, but eventually they’ll be able to do this all by themselves—and they may even start reminding you to breathe like a snake when your temper wears thin!
That’s all from us this month, Miss Lauren, Miss Ruby & the dolphins!