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 HelpersRead More
This word mindfulness used so much these days that its meaning is often lost or confused. It is something we find ourselves saying in place of other phrases that are more specific like “be careful” or “be thoughtful.” When we hear the word by itself or attached to meditation it can seem esoteric and unattainable, but if you consider the definition of mindfulness, it is simple. I have a favorite from Dr. Amy Salztman, who says, “Mindfulness is paying attention to your life, here and now, with kindness and curiosity.” It’s not about being calm or careful or getting your mind to stop thinking or experiencing emotion. It’s not about being perfect and well-behaved in every situation. Mindfulness is presence; it’s cultivating an ability to notice our experience without judgment and by doing so we give ourselves the room to choose our responses. It is something EVERY one of us has experienced unintentionally and it’s something EVERY one of us can practice with intention at any given moment. Even kids. If you don’t believe me ask yourself this: Have you ever had an interaction with your child or loved one where it was all about your experience together? No phone, no distraction just the two of you? Have you ever watched the clouds roll by, looked at the moon, savored a mouthful of something delicious, played a sport and been “in the zone”, taken a deep belly breath when you are feeling a moment of stress to gather your thoughts? If you said “Yes” to any of these, you have already practiced mindfulness. Mindfulness meditation expert Sharon Salzberg says, “Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.” Each moment in our lives presents us with the opportunity to practice mindfulness. Here are a few ways we can “remember to do it.” All of these can be done with kids as well, to help them learn to practice non-judgmental awareness and build their self-care skills in everyday situations. Breathe Reminding yourself to take a deep inhalation and slow exhalation through your nose can not only calm your nervous system, but also give you a moment to stop and notice how you feel and choose how to proceed with kindness and compassion, whether that is toward yourself or others. Try this exercise with your kids, too: place your hands on your belly and inhale to feel it fill with air. Then as you exhale, follow your breath all the way to the end. This lengthening of your exhale not only creates a relaxation response in your body but also puts your mind in one place, allowing you to quiet the chatter or hit pause on your mental to-do list. Use your Senses We have so many opportunities to taste, smell, hear, touch, and see. Often, we drink and eat so quickly that we don’t even know what we’ve tasted. We rush through our meals and treat them as just another chore. Try really paying attention to your food.Read More
Learn More About Mindfulness
At Magination Press Family, we offer a variety of books that can help you and your child understand mindfulness and how it can help you feel more present and calm. Explore the bookstore for helpful titles that explain what it means to be mindful, such as King Calm: Mindful Gorilla in the City by Susan D. Sweet and Brenda S. Miles, which offers tips for becoming calm, focused, and in tune with the world around you.
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