Breathing Buddies – Teaching Mindfulness to Your Child

kids health, stress, anxiety, siblings, expectations, meditation, yoga, breath work, Breathing Buddies, tips from townSix years ago another mom and I volunteered to teach yoga to 15 first and second graders at my daughter’s elementary school. While the real reason was to monitor the kids with an activity for part of their lunch break and prevent pandemonium in the halls during the cold weather months, we took our task seriously. But really, how can you convey the essence of yoga practice in 30 minutes or less to 6 and 7 year olds? We were completely prepared and fated to it being a total train wreck but it actually worked well. Swapping out the Sanskrit names of poses to cutesy animals and focusing on “less is more”, the kids (and us too) had a great time. As our weekly successes accumulated, we risked trying something quite daring – how would this hyper group do with breath meditation? Maybe they’re too young and/or being crammed into the music room where we were shoulder to shoulder would be too distracting. I decided to bring 15  smaller stuffed toys to school. The whole concept was to give them a Breathing Buddy (the stuffed toy) to help them stay focused on themselves and within their very tight personal space. Once we found space for all the kids to lie on their backs they were each given a “Buddy” to place on their chest/belly. The caveat they were given was to NOT let their buddy fall off, which meant they had to take nice slow deep controlled breaths AND keep their attention on their buddy – hands by sides. Not only did the room become silent within a few minutes, but the squirming and giggling ended and a true sense of peace and calm filled the atmosphere. Each one of those kids was totally into it.

Teaching a child to self –soothe in stressful situations can be a challenge. Most adults don’t know how to handle stress well, but what a gift and lifelong skill this can be. Not only the technique of calming breaths and mindfulness, but the ability to find peace amidst stressful settings. Maybe they can’t always pull out a breathing buddy and lie down but they can learn the breathing technique and use it whenever they are stressed. In fact, this deep breathing technique has helped my youngest, Olivia, deal with her asthma and handle the racing heart and jitteriness that accompanies her inhaler meds.

What amazing things this generation of children can do if they learn to cope with the increasing demands of every day life, beginning at a young age. What a better parent/child (or sibling) relationship would exist? A utopia? Maybe not, but in the very least a calmer, more peaceful atmosphere.

 

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Author: tammyjuco

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