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The Power of the Pause: Helping Your Child Learn About Mindfulness in This Stressful Time

Families all over the world are experiencing increased stress and anxiety. As we all practice social distancing, our daily routines have been disrupted. While this is stressful, it also provides an opportunity to slow down, to pause, and learn new coping strategies. The post below explores the power of the "pause" and provides tips for helping your child learn about mindfulness. Now is a great time to practice mindfulness together. For children and teenagers, learning how to take a pause requires practice and support from adults, just like learning to play an instrument or ride a bicycle. We want to encourage them to pause so they can catch their breath; be in the moment; experience what they are thinking, feeling, and doing; and regulate their emotions and behavior. Read on for some helpful tips for teaching mindfulness to children and teens. Be Patient Children—especially young children—may initially become frustrated when learning to take a pause. Your patience with them will help them feel more confident about relying on taking a pause when things get difficult. Be aware that children may give up easily or make negative statements like “This is boring!” “Why do I have to do this?” or “I feel silly!” If your child says such things, don’t dismiss her. Acknowledge her feelings and tell her that taking pauses might seem strange in the beginning. Focus on the effort made by your child and the positive results that come from engaging in mindful pausing. The more your child practices taking pauses, the more comfort and success she will experience. Have her choose a pause that she enjoys or one that has worked for her before. Your attitude about taking a pause is key to her success, as well. Encourage her to practice, and practice together. After all, pauses are good for everyone! Acknowledge Differences Some children and teens may have an easier time pausing than others. The pauses you use should be based on your child’s age and developmental level. Children with certain clinical issues such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or problems with impulse control, emotional regulation, executive functioning, depression, or anxiety may have more difficulty slowing down to pause, even while they have a greater need for taking pauses in their daily lives. Learning to successfully pause and be mindful may greatly impact a child or teen’s overall emotional and behavioral functioning. Know When to Pause Anytime is a good time to take a pause! Initially, however, it’s a good idea to introduce pauses when your child is calm. He will be much more focused and compliant, and more likely to be successful. If you try to teach a pause when your child is already upset, he may not be able to properly process what you are trying to teach him. Be aware of the emotional and behavioral triggers in your child. For example, if your child struggles with homework, remind him ahead of time about taking a pause or two. If he starts to get

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The Power of the Pause: Helping Your Child Learn About Mindfulness in This Stressful Time 2020-04-01T19:40:22-04:00

The Benefits of Expressive Writing

Expressive writing has many benefits. Writing about life helps people, among other things: get healthy! Research shows that people who write about emotional upheavals require fewer doctor visits and are generally happier. combat depression! Writing a gratitude journal helps with mood. Expressing yourself lets you ditch your stress for a while. build their brain! People best express themselves in different ways--through words, music, movement. Some people prefer to be alone to be inspired. Others think best by talking to people. Trying a variety of writing activities can spur new ways of thinking, resulting in stronger, smarter writers! Magination Press's book, Neon Words: 10 Brilliant Ways to Light Up Your Writing, provides young writers with writing prompts and book-making activities to help them learn about creative writing by honoring, strengthening, and playing with their ideas and words.  Writing activities can spark imagination and allow young writers to make their writing more powerful, but they can also help kids engage with words to be more present in life and to use language arts techniques for self-discovery and emotional well-being. Take a writing activity about antagonists, for example. In the Villainous Voices activity, writers are invited to think about a disagreement they've had with someone else, but from their adversary's point of view. In a story, the reader sides with the protagonist: the main character, the lead actor. It's the character we find ourselves rooting for. The antagonist, on the other hand, is often the one who causes problems: the villain, the one who creates the story's tension. They're the character we hope gets the short end of the stick. Have you ever read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by "A. Wolf"? (The author is really Jon Scieszka.) As the title suggests, you don't usually hear the wolf's take on the classic folk tale. In Wicked, Gregory Maguire writes a back story for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, giving the villain--that is, the Wicked Witch of the West--the leading role; this is a complete departure from the original.Now it's your turn. List a few people with whom you've had a disagreement. People you've argued with. People who see a situation from a different vantage point than you. Anyone in your life is fair game: Your mother Your father A sibling Other relative A friend or ex-friend A teacher A pet Think about the argument: Where were you? (scene) What happened? (action) What was said? (dialog) If it helps to take notes first, or jot down key points, go for it! Now retell that story, only this time as the person you clashed with. Invite them to speak as the protagonist. Look for the positive thinking that you couldn't see in the heat of emotion. Be honest. What do you think motivated them--and now you? Why would you want to do this? Writing-wise, it helps you get into the head of each of your characters to make them more complex, authentic, and honest. You want them to ring true, even

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The Benefits of Expressive Writing 2019-06-26T15:47:07-04:00

Teaching Your Child How to Ask for Help

Being able to ask for help is an essential skill for everyday life, but one that often has a stigma attached to it. It's natural for young kids to want to "do it themselves," especially when they see adults accomplishing the same tasks without help. Asking for help can sometimes be seen as a sign of weakness or incompetence, especially as we get older. But as we can see in the Magination Press book Giraffe Asks for Help by Nyasha Chikowore, main character Gary became happier and stronger after recognizing that he didn't have to struggle alone. Help-seeking in children promotes positive psychological functioning, competence, and inspires healthy collaboration with the children and adults around them. When children learn to ask for help, not only do they utilize their problem-solving skills, but they also become more adept at communicating and expressing their needs. The Importance of Help-Seeking It may seem obvious to us, but asking for help can be a crucial tool to help kids deal with tough problems such as bullying, trouble with school work, conflict with peers, and more. In addition, help-seeking is a skill that can combat many of the risk factors that have been known to cause stress and sadness in kids. Discussing what asking for help looks like in different settings (e.g. school, home, camp) can help ensure that children can identify adults and peers who are safe and can provide them with the appropriate forms of assistance. Of course, there's a line between encouraging help-seeking and allowing a child to become dependent on help. Kids should still be encouraged to try things on their own when it is safe and appropriate for them to do so, but being comfortable asking for help when it would be beneficial is a key developmental skill. Being mindful about that line can make a huge difference in your child's understanding of help-seeking. What You Can Do There are many things we can do to encourage help-seeking behaviors in kids. Letting them know that you are there to help them when needed is a good way to make sure they use the skill. Many kids have already been asking you for help since they were toddlers, and it can help to point out what that looked like as they have grown. You may have helped teach them how to walk, helped them with coloring or drawing, or helped them learn how to ride a bicycle. You can also give them examples of when you have had to ask for help in your own life to emphasize that people of all ages sometimes need help. The following questions can aid parents and teachers in helping children navigate how to ask for help appropriately: What are some things you can do without asking for help? What are some things you still need help with? How can you ask for help? Have some suggestions ready in case your child needs help coming up with ideas! Identify Potential Helpers

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Teaching Your Child How to Ask for Help 2019-11-05T15:04:53-05:00
Illustration sloth playing guitar and a sleeping rabbit