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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

Everyday kindness: Strategies to help your young child build social and emotional skills

Children need strong social and emotional skills to succeed at home, at school, and in the community. Grow Kind, a book from Magination Press by Jon Lasser, PhD and Sage-Foster Lasser, explores two important social and emotional skills: social awareness and relationship skills.  Young children are developmentally egocentric. Empathy develops over time. As children’s brains develop, so does their ability to see things from the perspective of others. Kindness requires some thought about the needs and feelings of others. Just as kids develop better motor skills through activity and practice, social skills increase when children observe, think about, and engage in social activity.  An excerpt from the Note to Parents and Other Caregivers in Grow Kind identifies some ways to help your child develop kindness by seeing it in their own lives and having opportunities to demonstrate kind behaviors: Use a book  Books help us understand our experiences, connect to the thoughts and feelings of others, and show us possibilities. When sharing a book with your child, ask them about the thoughts and feelings of the characters to help them practice taking the perspective of others. In Grow Kind, for example, Kiko’s parents encourage her to take her sister’s perspective by asking her to let her sister get some much-need sleep. Ask your child how different characters might be feeling or thinking when you read aloud. Identify kindness when you see it If your child engages in an act of kindness, recognize the act and encourage them to think about it. For example, “You shared your truck with Maggie. How kind of you to give her a turn.” In addition, try to identify acts of kindness directed toward your child or yourself. For example, if a sibling helps your child with their homework, you might help your child view and appreciate that help as an act of kindness. Say something like, “Maria is kind to help you with your math homework. She must really love you.” Talk about how kindness makes people feel Ask your child questions such as, “How do you think Maggie felt after you offered her your truck to play with?” You can help your child with this process by talking about your own emotional responses to kindness. For example, “When my friend does something kind for me, I feel happy. It makes me feel like she cares about me, and makes me feel good inside.” Ask your child to describe how instances of kindness make them feel as you observe them in everyday life. This will help them become more attuned to their own feelings and the feelings of others. Engage in play that teaches kindness Encourage your child to make decisions in play that reflect positive interpersonal relationships. For example, “Wow, that food you’re making looks delicious! Do you think your neighbor might like some?” If a character is sad or upset in the game, ask your child what someone else could do to help them feel better. This can direct the play in

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Everyday kindness: Strategies to help your young child build social and emotional skills 2020-03-17T16:11:28-04:00

Magination Press Quick Tip: Fostering Your Child’s Healthy Self-Concept

February is International Boost Self-Esteem Month   As a parent, helping your child develop a healthy self-concept is an ongoing task. The term “self-esteem” is widely used, but is also complicated. Studies have shown that not enough self-esteem is a problem, but so is too much. If a child’s self self-esteem is based on an inflated impression of ability, instead of  merit, that can be harmful, too.  Self-concept is a broader idea than self-esteem. It’s how a person thinks about herself generally, not just the esteem part. So how do you help your child develop a balanced, healthy self-concept? Focus on empowering your child to make choices and act for herself. Praise genuine effort and achievement. Teach your child about self-acceptance. Here are some strategies to try: Give your child age-appropriate choices to help them feel empowered. It can be as simple as “would you like apples or carrots with your lunch?” or “of these picture books, which one would you like to read first?" Making these small decisions will allow them to grow in confidence, build personal agency, and feel that their opinion is valued.  Embrace the idea that nobody is perfect. Show your child that don’t expect everyone to be good at everything, and that we all have things which we find more challenging. Point out to your child when you are struggling with something by saying something like: "Oops. That didn't work out the way I thought it would. That's ok. I'll try again." Emphasize effort, persistence, and improvement, not immediate perfection. Allow your child to do things for themselves. Learning a new skill such as doing their buttons up by themselves will give them a true sense of accomplishment. As a parent, this takes patience, but building new skills takes time.The goal isn’t perfection, but growing independence and confidence. Don’t compare your child to others or their siblings.Try to appreciate each child’s individual qualities. Give praise and point out when they have done things well. Acknowledging the effort and hard work put into an achievement is important. So is talking about what happened when kids fail. Everyone stumbles or fails: what we learn from our failures is valuable and lets us do better in the future. A healthy self-concept includes a balance of esteem and self-knowledge resulting in confidence, perseverance, and humility. A realistic self-image based on accurate and age-appropriate feedback and experience can help your child navigate life's challenges. These tips are provided by Jo Rooks, author of Magination Press book, Lucy’s Light. Lucy’s Light is about learning self-acceptance.

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Magination Press Quick Tip: Fostering Your Child’s Healthy Self-Concept 2020-02-11T14:53:34-05:00