The holidays are hectic. With all the parties, concerts, food, lights, decorations, shopping, visiting and travel, kids and adults can feel overwhelmed. Even good stress, like the anticipation of a coming holiday or finding just the right gift for a loved one, can take a toll on individuals and families alike. Why not give your family the gift of calm this holiday season by practicing mindfulness together? You don’t need to sit silently and meditate, you just need to slow down and be in the moment. You can model holiday mindfulness for your child by putting down your phone and other electronics and being present for each experience. Encourage your children to focus on their five senses and their hearts throughout the season. Here are some ideas to bring mindfulness to many common holiday activities and tasks: Concerts, plays, and other performances: These are a feast for the eyes and ears. Encourage your child to watch and listen carefully. Ask them to think about how watching and listening to the performers makes them feel. At intermissions and afterward, talk about what each of you found the most beautiful, surprising, funny or sad during the performance. Decorations: Even if you don’t decorate your home for the holidays, you’ll be surrounded by decorations in your community. The sights, sounds, and smells can be overwhelming. Lights are a big part of many winter holidays, whether they are candles, twinkling lights on trees, or big displays. Talk with your child about lights as you see them or as you light candles. Why do they think lights are such an important part of many winter holiday celebrations? How do the lights make them feel? What are their favorite kinds of lights? Share your tradition’s stories about the role of lights. Many of our holiday decorations have a distinctive scent: pine, melted wax, spices (think Gingerbread houses or clove and orange pomanders). Even fire in the fireplace--not necessarily a holiday thing, but a cozy winter experience--has a distinctive smell. Encourage your child to notice the way things smell different at the holidays. Some people even think that air outside has a distinctive smell when it is going to snow. Cooking, baking and feasting: Taste and smell are front and center here, but also touch. Include your children in cooking and baking for the season, allowing them to help with as much preparation as possible. Ask them to think about how ingredients feel and smell as they prepare them. Even preschoolers can help tearing lettuce for a salad! When eating special holiday treats, encourage your child to taste slowly, savoring the flavor, texture, and aroma of each item. Ask them to describe how a treat tastes. When making and eating traditional family items, tell your child the story of the dish and the memories you have around it. Gifts: Choosing gifts for folks can be an overwhelming task, and often buying gifts can be expensive, hectic, time-consumingRead More
About Eileen HanningEileen Hanning, M.Ed., has more than twenty years designing reading curriculum for underserved kids and training for their parents and social service providers about reading and child development. Her passion for children’s books and hands-on learning has lead her to review children’s books, learn, research and write about education, child development and toxic stress, and to create her own consulting company, ReadLearnReach, where she serves a variety of clients with their curriculum, children’s book and writing needs.
Kids experience all kinds of stress: good stress, like the excitement of trying out for the basketball team, and bad stress, like dealing with bullies. Thankfully, mindfulness techniques can help your child manage his stressors, good and bad alike.Read More
Different people prefer different forms of relaxation. One person might like to soak in a hot bath; someone else might prefer a brisk walk in the snow. Helping your child discover what relaxes her and encouraging her to practice that provides her with an important life skill.Read More