Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Mind the children!

There have been many thoughts in my head this week about what I might write. The thing that has come up the most is our children. Not just the two little people in our home but all our children. As a society we seem to be rushing from one place to another, from one job or activity & then on to the next with not much time in between for general pleasantries all the while expetcing our darlings to keep up.
We expect a lot more from our children now than was expected 20 years ago & definitely more than generations before. Children were expected to be children, out having fun when not learning at school. Some children may have had extra curricular activities but they were not seen as an absolute necessity. They certainly would not have been privy to what was going on in the world of grown ups. If we wish to treat our young ones as being capable of understanding so much more than people ever thought (which they are able to. No more of this seen & not heard business!) then we need to teach them how to handle themselves in all situations & prepare the for the stresses that modern life gives us.

Why am I rambling about this? There have been articles on social media & in the press about teaching children MINDFULNESS this week. One of my favourite actresses, Goldie Hawn, has her own organisation, 'MindUP',  which promotes the art of being mindful in schools & the importance of teaching  this skill to all pupils. She works with neuroscientists, psychologists & the education sector to develop her program. I have found myself reading more & more about what this organisation does. I would recommend popping over to the website & having a look.

I generally people watch. It is quite interesting & you certainly can't help over hearing what people say either around children or directly to them, especially on the school run. Occasionally you over hear parents talking at their children rather than to them, not fully listening & understanding what is being conveyed or taking time to give proper replies. I won't give specific examples & I'm sure many of you will have witnessed the type of scenario I'm dancing around here. From my own world I can tell you that both of my two have had melt down moments over things we would think ridiculous. Cue list of melt downs this week:
Not having 2 stories at bed time,
Not having the right cuddly toy in bed,
Balloons deflating,
Having to come in from playing outside,
Not sharing with each other,
Not wanting a bath,
Not wanting to get out of the bath,
Not being able to take a toy to school,
Puzzle pieces not fitting together,
Wanting help with an activity,
Not happy with the help given during said activity.

I could go on.
As a mum, these kinds of meltdowns individually aren't very much but when you have several a day, especially when you have many other things going on at once in your own mind, things can easily escalate & become a battle of wills. If you take a step back & think about things for a moment from the child's perspective, these things are a big deal to them. It takes a long time for them to learn the skills of considering others & looking at situations differently. Children are very self important. It is their way. We have to teach them to stop & think about what is going on & give them reasonable explanations as calmly as we can.
My daughter is 5 & quite a clever little button for her age. I have to remember that she has a lot of changes going on at the moment. She will be moving up to year 1 in a couple of months & is asking lots of questions about it. She will be performing in a little show with the performing arts school she attends for ukulele lessons so she is practising for that.
I've missed a few more bedtimes with the children than usual as my grandad is poorly with the dreaded C. My girl knows her Great Grandad is unwell but not the severity.
There has also been talk recently, but only little snippets about how she feels other children at school are sometimes "rude" to her.
Not surprisingly she is tired, having bad dreams & lets off steam by over reacting to things we ask of her & getting a little snappy. Hurrah!! My daughter is human!! Don't we all react that way if something is important to us?

Initial reaction is to tell her off. How dare she talk to us that way. She's 5!! However, with the art of being mindful I will stop myself form retaliating in such a way & remind myself of how I feel with everything going on. I then ask my girl to stop & breathe. I ask her to calm down & talk to me properly. She had on one occasion got herself in quite a pickle so I asked her to go upstairs & lay on her bed, breathe & calm down. I explained this was not time out but just time for her to think about what is going on so we could talk properly after.
I did laugh when I could hear her moaning to herself. I couldn't help but sneak up the stairs to hear what she was saying/ there she was, laying on her bed like a teenager would, on her stomach, chin resting on her hands & swinging her legs muttering "It's not fair, why is SHE telling me off when it's not even my fault!"
After a few minutes of her eventually being quiet & looking restful I went into her room & we had a heart to heart. I gave her opportunity to tell me why she was feeling the way she was that made her react in such a way before I spoke to her about appropriate responses & thinking about what she is saying before she says it. I certainly did not excuse her behaviour but I addressed it in a 'what could be done next time?' way.

I spoke to a couple of people about the situation & how I handled it. They suggested that I didn't handle it right & that I was treating my daughter as though she was a lot older. My reply......
What better time to teach your children to think about what is gong on in a situation & the importance of taking a moment to consider what is being said & why before responding? It is a life skill & one I wish I had learnt before turning 35! I also want my children to know that they are valued & what is important to them is important to us.
There are many good websites, blogs & articles about teaching mindfulness to children which you can find if you do a quick Internet search. A couple I like are:

I don't want to bubble wrap my children from the world but I want to protect them where I can & prepare them to deal with those I cannot keep them from all the while giving them every chance to just be children!


  1. Great writing. ..and some sound advice of which I will be trying xx

  2. Sorry it's taken me a while to reply. I'm still not quite up with all this modern technology! ;)
    That is very kind of you to say. I'mm not sure if I was going for giving advice or just speaking how I find but I'm truly pleased that you could take something from it.
    I'd love to know if you have been trying anything different in your approach & if it's helped. Xx