Staying Cool and Calm mindful resilient child

Are you finding your kids are losing their temper more quickly, perhaps because they haven’t had enough sleep? How many of you are finding your kids are quicker to tears than normal, maybe because they don’t have enough time to just ‘be’? Has the bickering between your siblings reached new levels?

It’s that time of year – the time when things start to feel a little crazy. It’s almost the end of term and kids are tired – they have worked hard all year and are busy with end of year concerts and shows. On top of this, excitement levels about the holidays are reaching fever pitch.

As parents we too are busy – for those who work, January can feel a long way away as we desperately try and wrap up all those projects that “need to be completed by Christmas!” We too have worked hard all year and are consumed with helping our families make it to the finish line that is the start of the summer holidays.

All of this is a perfect recipe for kids to experience tricky emotions.

At Resilience in Kids we have been focusing on giving the gorgeous kids in our workshops some skills and coping strategies to help them stay cool and calm at times like this. We’d like to share some of these with you.

In our experience, an important first step to helping kids stay cool and calm is to give them space and a language to express how they are feeling – we tell them that all feelings are OK and help them label their emotions. We teach them that feelings they may not like, such as anger, frustration and sadness, are a normal part of being human but that it’s not OK to behave in a negative way because of these, e.g. it’s OK to feel angry but not OK to punch someone because of this.

resilient child breathing mindfulness press pause

3 more skills are as follows:

  1. Breathe. We teach our gorgeous kids to take slow, deep breaths from the bottom of their tummies. We teach them how to do this by asking them to lie on their backs with a ball on their tummies. They can watch the ball rise and fall as they take their slow, deep breaths. Another fun way of teaching this is to give them a feather – they put the feather in the palm of their hand, blow and hold it in the air for a count of 4. It’s tricky but a fun way of teaching this skill that the kids love.
  2. Be mindful or do a relaxation or visualisation. We do one of these exercises each week and love seeing how it can transform how our kids are feeling. There are many free apps that you can download, such as Smiling Mind, that will give you access to many such exercises. But just sitting still and daydreaming or watching the world go by can work just as well.
  3. Create a safe place. In our workshops we ask kids to build a cubby using blankets, cushions and furniture, we then ask them to draw a picture of how their safe space makes them feel. They used words such as “calm”, “relaxed” and “safe”. Kids can do whatever they love in there – they can take in a favourite toy or book or even a pet to stroke.

Suggested Activity

Suggested activity: Find a space, it can be either inside or outside, where your children can build their own “safe space”. Give them some old blankets, towels, cushions, sheets – whatever you have lying around – and invite them to create a space that is theirs and that they can retreat to whenever they like. Encourage them to take in their favourite toy, book or pet.