As we move into unprecedented times, many of us may be feeling a heightened sense of worry or overwhelm. We might find ourselves being triggered by news reports, social media posts, comments from friends of family, or even our own thoughts. As adults, we can recognise these feelings and we understand why we are having them. Many children will also be experiencing these feelings, but they lack the emotional literacy to be able to say what they are feeling, or to know why. Instead, they may tell you they have a tummy ache, or they may be extra tearful or clingy. You may even notice an increase in tantrums or difficult behaviours. Even though some of our little ones are too young to fully understand what is going on, they may be picking up on the fact that something isn’t right, that their routines have changed, or that there are new boundaries being implemented every day “Why do I have to wash my hands again? Why is school closed? Why can’t we visit Granny and Grandpa? Why can’t we go to the park today? What’s going on?!”
There are many ways that we can help ourselves and our children to feel calm. The Mini Me Yoga 7 step programme contains a wealth of strategies and practical tools that you and your child can use (yes, they are great for adults too!) to help bring the mind and body back into a state of balance. We can also regulate our emotions by creating our own ‘Calm Kit’. This is a bag or box filled with things that engage all the senses (to bring our awareness back to our bodies) and mindfulness activities (to focus our minds), helping us to feel more grounded and relaxed.
Creating a calm kit for your child
Choose a brightly coloured bag or box- you could even use an old shoe box which your child can decorate with colours or stickers! Fill it with:
- Things to touch: stress ball, sensory ball, bean bag, slime, playdough, or soft toy to cuddle
- Things to smell: scented toys, scented playdough (make your own with a few drops of vanilla essence or essential oil), or scented pens
- Things to taste: box of raisins, healthy snack packet, small carton of milk or natural fruit juice, fruit winder, biscuit or crackers
- Things to look at: bubbles, snow globe, light up toy, fidget spinner, or a photo album filled with people and pets that we love
- Things to listen to: rain stick, wind-chime, something that jingles or plays music
- A mindful activity: colouring in, favourite book, journal or sticker book
These are just some suggestions, so make sure you choose things that are appropriate for your child’s age and stage of development. If you notice that your child is becoming worried or overwhelmed, or you sense a change in their behaviour, you can encourage them to choose something from their calm bag/box to help support them.
Creating a calm kit for you
Why not create a calm kit for yourself too? As adults, we have a few go-to things that help us relax, but here are some suggestions:
- Something to fiddle with like an elastic band, small pebble, or crystal
- Your favourite essential oil (lavender oil is known for its calming properties)
- A soothing hand cream or massage oil
- A herbal tea bag
- Some dark chocolate- raw chocolate is best
- Photos of people we love or happy events
- A playlist of our favourite feel good songs
- A positive quote or affirmation
- A mindful activity: adult colouring, favourite book, journal, sudoku, crossword, knitting, or anything else that can help you focus
Again, if you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed or if you get caught up in unhelpful thoughts, try using something from your calm kit to help you focus your mind and relax.
Remember to acknowledge your feelings first!
Remember that it is okay to feel worried, scared, angry, upset, or overwhelmed. Whenever you notice these feelings coming up for yourself or your child, it is important to acknowledge them first “I can see you’re feeling upset. I know you really wanted to go the park today, but we need to stay indoors. It’s okay to feel upset when we can’t do the things we want to do.” Only then, can you encourage yourself or your child to use a strategy from your calm kit “Why don’t we find your calm bag, and you can choose something to help you feel better?”
Be kind to yourself and others during these difficult times.
About Fiona Roberts
Fiona is the Mini Me Yoga Ambassador for West London. She has been working with children and families for over 15 years, in various education and support roles. Fiona has a background in Psychology and a Certificate in Parent Child Therapy through the Institute for Arts in Therapy and Education (IATE). Fiona supports family wellness through therapeutic groups, parent support sessions, and Mini Me Yoga classes and workshops in West London.
You can reach Fiona at: www.facebook.com/minimeyogawestlondon