Thinking good thoughts about themselves and others can help kids be happier and healthier. Loving-kindness meditation toward themselves and others can comfort and strengthen young hearts. Loving-kindness is a kind of heart meditation that consists of sending of sending love, kindness, and compassion by directing positive thoughts, good intentions, or well wishes toward ourselves and others. When people practice loving-kindness meditation on a regular basis, they feel a sense of goodness about themselves and others. It produces a reaction in the brain similar to when one engages in acts of kindness, producing positive feelings which can lead to positive behaviors. Practicing loving-kindness meditation has been shown to: Decrease stress and anxiety Increase feelings of hope Reduce feelings of anger Increase empathy Increase feelings of self-esteem and decrease self-criticism In Magination Press book, Bee Heartful: Spread Loving-Kindness by Frank J. Sileo, PhD, Bentley Bee sends loving-kindness thoughts to himself and others, and can feel his heart growing. This excerpt from the “Note to Adult Beekeepers” describes how to practice loving-kindness meditation with children. Loving-kindness meditation is great for kids because it is more concrete and structured than other forms of meditation. The child recites specific phases and brings up images in their minds of the people they are sending loving-kindness to. It’s important that children understand that when they send loving-kindness thoughts to others, it may not change the other person or how that person feels about them. Loving-kindness does not work like magic or serve as some type of spell on another person. The meditation is more focused on the meditator developing loving-kindness toward others. Getting Started Mediation is a quiet activity, so you want to choose a place for your child that is free from distractions. It can be a room in your home, someplace outside like a garden or patio, or any place without interruptions. They can sit on the floor, a mat, a pillow or in a chair, or lie down. They can close their eyes or cast their eyes downward and a few feet in front of them. This will help avoid any visual distractions. Your child can place one or both hands on their heart and take three deep breaths. Ask your child to repeat these phrases silently in their head a few times. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be safe. May I be peaceful. After your child sends loving-kindness intentions toward themselves, they can use the same intention toward other people. Keep it short at first Sitting still and focusing can be challenging for children and adults alike. Keeping meditation short in the beginning can be helpful in maintaining young children’s interest, attention, and focus. For young children, 3-5 minutes is a good starting point. You can gradually increase the time as children mature and their practice grows. Mix up the loving-kindness intentions Your child can vary the practice of loving-kindness meditation by varying who they pick to send intentions to. A common approach is to send loving-kindnessRead More
About Frank Sileo, PhD
Frank J. Sileo, PhD, is a New Jersey licensed psychologist and the founder and executive director of the Center for Psychological Enhancement in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He received his doctorate from Fordham University in New York City.
In his practice, Dr. Sileo works with children, adolescents, adults, and families. Since 2010, he has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s top kids’ doctors.
He has authored several children’s books including: A World of Pausabilities: An Exercise in Mindfulness, Did You Hear?: A Story About Gossip, Bug Bites and Campfires: A Story for Kids About Homesickness, and Sally Sore Loser: A Story About Winning and Losing, which is the Gold Medal recipient of the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award.
Wanda Witch is a snitch and her friends don’t like it. The other witches at Camp Spellbound want her to stop snitching. This delightful picture book from Magination Press tells a tattling tale that is perfect for parents to share with their kids. Snitchy Witch by Frank J. Sileo, Ph.D., explores the difference between tattling, or snitching, and telling or reporting. As young children develop their sense of right and wrong, they may struggle with tattling. This excerpt from Dr. Sileo’s “Note to Grown-Up Witches” provides useful strategies for parents to help their children learn the difference between snitching and telling, develop problem-solving skills, and develop empathy. To Tell or Not to Tell Snitching, or tattling, is telling on someone when the situation is safe and does not require an adult to be involved. Telling, or reporting, is telling an adult when someone or something is being hurt or is in danger, or when someone is deliberately being destructive or hurtful. Children tattle for many different reasons including seeking attention, jealousy or wanting to get someone in trouble, to show they know the rules, and others. They may snitch because they haven’t yet developed the ability to think abstractly, so they interpret rules very rigidly. Young children also may have not yet developed effective interpersonal problem solving skills, leading them to involve adults unnecessarily. Of course, there are times when children should always tell an adult that something is going on. Let your child know they can always ask you if they are unsure about a situation. Help your child learn to recognize the difference between dangerous situations, like bullying or someone or getting hurt, and frustrating or upsetting situations, like people being rude or selfish, by providing concrete examples. If Your Child Snitches Teaching your child the difference between snitching and telling is an important starting point, but remember that children may snitch for a lot of different reasons. Teach Problem-Solving Skills Young children are learning the important skills needed to deal with conflict and problems. Stepping in to solve problems too quickly will teach your child that the only way to solve a problem is to go to an adult for help. Instead, teach your child to work through conflicts with others. For example, suggest they take a few deep breaths and think about a way to handle the situation on their own before tattling. Give them tools—like using words (“I don’t like it when you don’t share with me”) or walking away to play with someone or something else in a difficult situation. Avoid Rewarding Snitching Behavior Sometimes a child tattles because she is seeking attention, feels jealous, or wants to get another child in trouble. Resist jumping right in and to scold the “perpetrator.” You’ll be giving the “snitcher” a false sense of importance, and likely encourage more snitching. If safety is not an issue, avoid punishing the other child, so that you avoid giving positive attention to the snitcher. Show and Teach Empathy ChildrenRead More
Children are more stressed out and anxious than ever before. In our fast paced, hectic, and digital world, the impact of this way of being can be detrimental to the health and welfare of our children. Wide-spread use of electronic devices exposes children to information and various forms of stimulation at rapid speeds. In addition to schoolwork and household responsibilities, children may be involved in many extracurricular activities and overscheduled with other commitments. More and more children report feeling anxious, stressed, tired, and easily frustrated. Their young bodies and minds cannot take it all. Children often lack healthy coping skills to deal with the pressures they experience and need help developing skills to navigate the challenges in their lives. What is Mindfulness? Mindfulness is a way of being and an effective tool for coping with a stressful world. It teaches children to notice and bring their attention to what is happening in the present moment: their thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Mindfulness teaches children to notice and bring their attention to what is happening in the present moment. Mindfulness is not concerned with what happened in the past or what may happen in the future. Children are naturally more mindful than adults; they are often much more present in the here and now, so learning mindfulness practices may come more easily to them. There are two formal practices of mindfulness that are effective tools for coping with stress: meditation and yoga. These practices are positive, portable and scientifically proven to help lower stress, build resilience, aid with concentration and focus, regulate emotions, as well as provide other mental and physical benefits. Meditation and yoga require time, patience, commitment and practice. Children can do meditation and yoga alone, with a friend, or with a parent or caregiver. Meditation Mindfulness meditation focuses on being in the present by focusing on one’s breath. The breath serves as an anchor to wandering thoughts that may arise during meditation practice. When children focus on their breathing, they may notice their thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations and become more in tune with their minds and bodies. Bringing their attention to a sound, smell or bodily sensation can also serve as anchors instead of the breath. Meditation should be done in a quiet place, free of distractions. Children may meditate on the floor, a mat, a chair or lying down. Sitting is recommended because, if they lie down during meditation, they are more likely to fall asleep. Meditation practice is best done regularly and at a time that works for your child. It can be a great way to start or end a day. Bedtime may be a great time to meditate to help your child unwind, relax and fall asleep. Helping your child learn to meditate can be a special experience for both of you, as your child learns from your example. When teaching your child to meditate, start with shorter periods of time and gradually increase the practice. Three to five minutes is anRead More