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
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
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.
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