After the events of recent months here in the UK and around the World, it is more important than ever to talk about love and peace. Especially as this week it is International Peace Day on the 21st September. And where better to start than right at home.
Teach your children that love is the answer, always. Lead by example, and show them that petty retaliations will only lead to further trouble. Peace and love are stronger and given the chance, can spread much further than hate.
As parents, we have the ability to shape our children’s future. We will become their internal voice, the one they will think back to and listen to as they grow older. If we can help to instil in them a deep sense of love and peace, then together we have the ability to change the viewpoints of the next generation and help to spread peace throughout the world.
I have a dream that we live in a world of peace, without jealousy, with understanding and without greed. There really is enough in this world for everyone, and if we worked together, we could achieve so much more than fighting against each other.
Love spreads! People are far more likely to help someone they like, than someone they hate.
It will never happen you say? I’m naive? Maybe! But I’d rather be hopeful that it could, and one day will, than just give up and join the haters. As an eternal optimist, I may well be in the minority, but enough of us stand up together, we can one day become the majority, and change the world.
Meditation for Children
You may have seen the above image floating around social media over the last few years. And I’m not one to argue with the Dalai Lama, but why wait until they’re 8? There are LOTS of ways a little mindfulness and meditation can help much younger children, especially toddlers who are learning what their emotions are all about and trying to deal with them.
Techniques for Toddlers – Make it a game!
But a toddler isn’t going to suddenly start joining you in 30-minute meditations, you need to start somewhere else, somewhere fun!
I have found a great strategy that works with my toddlers, which helps to create calm quickly is talking about and finding their body parts.
This first came about actually about 2 years ago, while my now nearly 3-year-old was sat on the toilet at bedtime (yes, I have sat my children on the toilet from a very young age, drop me a line if you want to know more). Now overtired babies are not in a good state of mind for concentrating on toilet tasks, so to focus her on the task at hand and get her attention – ie, stop her from looking at everything else in the bathroom and focus on me and what I was going to tell her next…..
I asked if she could find her nose. Simple!
She did. So I asked if she could find Mummy’s nose.
She did. And she liked the ‘game’
Expand the game
Next were her ears, then her eyes and hair. With mine mixed in sometimes. Varying the order, and whether it was hers or mine. Adding in new things to find, to keep it fun and keep her engaged, focused and listening. And every now and again, I’d quietly remind her why we were there, and what she needed to do.
(If you want to try this, but your little one doesn’t yet know the names of their body parts, just start with for example “This is Mummy’s nose” and point to your nose, then point to your baby’s nose and say “This is [insert name here] nose” Then move to a couple of others, and go back to the nose. They’ll soon catch on. Then feel free to add in new body parts as time and development progresses.)
Does it really work?
It is so simple to do, but it really works for us! And not just for toilet tasks either.
Trying to do anything but eat their lunch? Tick!
Throwing their breakfast on the floor? Tick!
Refusing to settle down for naptime? Tick!
Tantrum in the supermarket? Tick!
Changing the game
After she had mastered body parts, I started to add in animal noises or actions, but always turned it into a game.
Can you tell me what a doggy says?
Can you show me what monkeys do?
What do sheep say?
It’s a great way to teach things to them too. All in the form of play, while also helping them to learn techniques for calm. They both do it now. My toddlers just love proving they know the answers, and it immediately takes them away from whatever they were going to get stressed about, or worry about and brings them to the present and whatever I need them to concentrate on.
I recommend you introduce this in a quiet time, when it’s just the two of you. A time when they’re not hungry, tired, wet or upset. A time when they are happy and relaxed. Then the memory of this game, and your special time together, seems to immediately bring calm.
Yoga? With a Toddler
As they grow and get a little older, you can add in some small simple yoga type poses. These were shown to my toddlers by my sister Helen, a yoga teacher. These help to show young children the first stages of yoga poses, by getting them into different positions in order to do an animal action. Similar to the animal sounds and actions, these just use the whole body, and helps your toddlers to focus on something with their bodies. Just like us adults, this can help them to escape whatever they’re worrying about, and learning these skills now can only help them as they grow.
Reaching high to pick nuts from a tree and eating them as a squirrel would
Snaking arms together side to side
Crouching on their knees in a ball, twitching nose and nibbling ‘food’ from their fingers
Make a connection
But really, it’s just about finding something that your child connects with. Something that you can show them that they enjoy whilst in a fun and happy environment, then keep repeating it. And then when you do it while in what could be a stressful situation for them, they are transported back to something they enjoy and hopefully will remember all the happy times you have both done it too. Hence giving them an escape route away from their current emotion. If they continue to practise this throughout childhood, it is more likely to become a way of life for them. Imagine the possibilities for our world, if every child were taught these skills.
Together, they could change the world!
With love x