Love is in the air this week, and as we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, most of us will be showering our loved ones with hearts, roses, chocolates and teddy bears to let them know we care about them. For children, feeling loved is a basic need which is vital for their physical and emotional development. The Mini Me Yoga programme, designed by Dr Kate Bartram-Brown, uses kids yoga, meditation and mindfulness to help children explore ideas around love for themselves and for others.
This week’s blog, written by our wonderful Ambassador Clair-Louise Walsh, looks at the importance of talking to children in order to build connection and trust.
In almost every single school report that my parents received when I was a child, it always said “talks too much” And it was true, I would talk to the brick wall if I had a chance and this caused problems at school. In spite of that, my ability to talk the hind leg off of a donkey now serves me well! When working with children, what I have discovered to be the magic trick to calming, distracting, expressing, communicating and building trust is….. ta da! good old fashioned chin wagging! And the real beauty of this is that there is no magic and it is no trick. It’s simple, effective and absolutely possible.
I have found that children’s favourite stories are the real life ones. I tell the children everything. Why I decided to wear the stripy socks instead of the spotty ones, how I accidently put my jumper on inside out and what I had for breakfast. I tell them about the adventures my cats get up to, the new tyres that were put on my car and the broken trafﬁc light I encountered on my way to work. This has a number of effects. It allows the children to get to know me and this in turn, helps to build trust. It also encourages them to share their similar experiences nurturing a sense of human connection and building self-conﬁdence. Language can be improved by both listening and responding and the imagination can be fully activated. Of course, I always add a little animation and a lot of humour which is vital in good storytelling, but the tales are true and the kids love them.
What I realised some time ago is that children, like adults, seek out identiﬁcation with others and will always look for the similarities. Real life storytelling provides this opportunity and most importantly, I believe, shows kids that we the adults, are just like them. Children are taught to respect their elders and for better or for worse are always being ‘told what to do’ by adults. Of course, this is a natural part of life and is necessary for their safety and development but do we, the adults sometimes over do it? And do the kids often ‘over hear’ it? They become so accustomed to following the guidance of adults that they see us as a different species, ‘the grown-ups’, the big ones who are so very different to them. Even when we sit and read them stories from a book which is such a beautiful ritual, we still assume the adult/child roles as the reader and the listener. Telling real life stories puts us on the same level as the kids and they can see us in a different light. I recently had a group of rather ‘active’ young boys to teach, and at the beginning of the class they were rebelling against me simply because I was the teacher. I abandoned all lesson plans and asked them all to join me on the sofa’s in the classroom. I told them about my trip that morning to the vet. They asked questions about my dog and this led to them talking about their own pets and then about the instruments they were learning to play and many other aspects of their life. We chatted for 45 minutes, and by the time we were ready to get back to work they had forgotten that they wanted to annoy the teacher and asked when I’d next be back to teach them.
Talking to each other and sharing experiences is such a healthy and important part of life and every bit as important as sitting in silence at desks. Let’s get talking guys, there’s so much to say and so much to hear.
About Clair-Louise Walsh
Clair-Louise is a trained Montessori Teacher, a registered Children’s Yoga teacher and trained in India for a 200 hour teaching certificate in Vinyasa and Hatha Yoga. For the past seven years she has lived and worked in Luxembourg offering Yoga to children, adults and families. Most recently, Clair graduated from university with a degree in ‘Drug and alcohol addiction therapy’ and now uses yoga and mindfulness in her work as a holistic therapist.
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