The holidays can be hectic and stressful, even under the best of circumstances. But this year, due to the pandemic, many of our favorite holiday experiences may be different or put on hold. Concerts, performances, and big celebrations will likely be cancelled. Large family gatherings may be impossible. Shopping for gifts may have to happen online. You can still make the holidays special by slowing down and savoring the beauty and meaning of the season. This revised post from 2018 about creating a mindful holiday with your family provides pandemic-appropriate strategies to encourage your child to use their senses to notice what makes the season special, plus some Magination Press titles that may be helpful. You can give your family the gift of calm this holiday season by practicing mindfulness together. A silver lining of the pandemic’s change of plans is that it allows you more time to notice the beauty of the season. 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 events will happen differently this year. Seek out favorite or new musical, theatrical, or dance performances online or happening outdoors in a socially distanced way. However they happen, these events 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. Even if you don’t see a holiday performance, your family can create one of your own, singing favorite holiday songs or acting out favorite stories. Magination Press books Accordionly: Abuelo and Opa Make Music by Michael Genhart and My Singing Nana by Pat Mora explore how families enjoying music together can bring a family together. 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 captivating. 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, butRead More
Sometimes emotions can be very powerful, like the revving engine of a race car. Anger and frustration can feel like they are driving you. Dr. Michael A. Tompkins has created a manual for teens to help them learn to calm anger, manage frustration and irritation, and de-escalate tense situations. This adapted excerpt from his Note to the Reader in Zero to Sixty: A Teen’s Manual to Manage Frustration, Anger, and Everyday Irritations, speaks directly to teens. It explores anger and some first steps teens can take toward controlling it based in cognitive behavioral therapy. High-performance cars can go from zero to 60 in just a few seconds. That’s moving; and that’s what anger can feel like sometimes. One minute you’re cool and calm and then next minute, in a flash, you’re boiling. When that happens, people tell you to chill out or calm down, but no one actually teaches you how to do that. There are tools to control your anger, and you can learn them. Understanding anger is an important first step in building those skills. Own your anger Anger is an interesting emotion. It makes people uncomfortable. Anger can push people away or even frighten them. This makes it hard for people to understand others who are angry in the same way they understand people who are stressed, anxious, or depressed. When people are stressed, anxious, or depressed, others will often sympathize with them and tell them that it isn’t their fault that they feel the way they do. When people are angry, however, they are often blamed for feeling that way because others believe they could calm down if they wanted to. This makes it hard for people to own the anger and ask for help. It’s not easy to own a problem. It takes courage to stare down anger and decide to take it on. Do you see anger as something outside of your control? Do you think that you wouldn’t be angry if people treated you differently? What if: Your teachers didn’t load you with so much homework, Your friends did things your way, or People left you alone? Then you wouldn’t get angry. It’s them, not you, and to a degree that’s true. Other people do play a role. Sometimes people say something that hurts your feelings or treat you unfairly. Sometimes people do these things intentionally, and sometimes accidentally. What you do have control over is how you react to these things. Owning your anger means you don’t blame your friends, your school, your parents, or yourself. Owning your anger is the first step in taking charge of it. Admit the Benefits of Anger and Give It Back Have you ever lost your temper: To get out of class, homework, or chores, So that you could get your way, or Put someone down so you could feel better about yourself? Part of owning your anger means admitting that sometimes you use anger to help you get what you want. But understandingRead More
A Mindful Child Is a Happier Child
Taking a pause to focus the mind can help your child feel happier, calmer, and more relaxed. At Magination Press Family, you’ll find books that explore the idea of mindfulness and offer practical ways to incorporate it into your child’s daily life. Explore the catalog for APA-approved titles such as A World of Pausabilities: An Exercise in Mindfulness by Frank J. Sileo, which focuses on applying mindfulness to everyday moments.
The uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has everyone feeling a wide mix of feelings: anxiety, boredom, grief, confusion, frustration, and loneliness to name a few. Helping children recognize and identify their feelings is an important life skill that will be useful long after the pandemic is over. This repost from April 2018 from Magination Press author Lauren Rubenstein, JD, PsyD, explores how we can use mindfulness to examine emotions in a calm, thoughtful way. Take a minute right now to pay attention to what’s going on around you. What do you hear or see? Do you notice anything new? Now, turn your attention inward. What are you thinking, and how do you feel? Mindfulness—as you just experienced—is tuning into yourself and paying attention to the present moment without judging or analyzing what you are thinking or feeling. Although it seems quite simple, it is not easy. Our busy minds are constantly darting and drifting, telling stories about what has happened in the past and what might happen in the future. For children and teenagers, mindfulness is a powerful tool that can enhance many aspects of well-being. As parents and professionals, we can encourage children to be mindful, to cultivate emotional intelligence through their senses, and to reflect on what they learn. Linking Mindfulness and Emotions In order to connect mindfulness to our emotions, we can use the idea of “visiting” our feelings. We can encourage children and teenagers to sense, explore, and befriend all of their feelings with acceptance and equanimity. Emotions and feelings are neither good nor bad, neither acceptable nor unacceptable. Rather, they are simply present-moment experiences of felt sensations. Instead of trying to suppress or undo feelings, we invite children to explore their feelings with their senses and even converse with them. Awareness of how feelings can lodge in the body, as conveyed by common expressions like “a pit in the stomach” or “a lump in the throat” is a form of emotional intelligence. This awareness helps children and teenagers handle any feelings that may arise with equanimity. It also helps them mindfully gain sensitivity to their bodies as rich kaleidoscopes of information. They can cultivate this emotional intelligence through their senses by learning to explore the range of emotions they encounter within themselves on a daily basis. Encouraging Mindfulness Mindfulness can take many forms. Physical practice includes yoga, tai chi, martial arts, and even mindful walking. In fact, any activity can be done mindfully—for example, brushing your teeth, putting on your socks, or practicing the piano. There are many simple exercises you can do at home to help teach your child to be mindful. Reflection activities can be introduced seamlessly into your family routine. Remember: “Short times, many times” is ideal, both in terms of cultivating a mindful brain and fitting practice into busy schedules. For example, before a family meal, have each person at the table name three things they are grateful for. Discuss where the food came from and express gratitude forRead More