We’re heading home from the science museum.
It’s been a busy morning. We observed, investigated, played, and learned for hours. It was also loud, crowded, and involved tons of walking.
“When we get home, we’re going to have some quiet time,” I say, hoping this will counteract the effects of overstimulation.
Rather than a cheerful “OK mom!” my solution is met with groans and resistance.
Even though it’s clear to me that we’re headed straight for a meltdown, my kids don’t see it. They aren’t tuned into what their body needs or how to return to a state of calm.
They view my suggestion as a punishment rather than something beneficial.
It’s time to teach mindfulness.
Increase Your Child’s Mindfulness
As parents, we are often more in tune with our kids than they are. We know when they’re tired and need a nap, or when their blood sugar is low and they need a snack.
Unfortunately, forcing our “perfect” solution keeps them from becoming mindful about their needs.
Handing off this responsibility empowers your kids, allowing them the opportunity to “tune in” to what’s happening in their brain and body.
- Explore Options: Since this may be a new conversation for your kids, keep it playful and fun. Talk about things that people enjoy. Some people love being active, others like being quiet; some enjoy being with people, others like being in smaller groups. Allow your kids to weigh in on the things they enjoy.
- Talk About Calm: Quiet is not the same as calm. Your child may be silent, but their brain may be going a mile a minute. Each child needs to learn which situations and experiences allow their body to fully relax. Explore a variety of things people do to feel calm. Practice together until your child finds a few things that work.
- Practice a Pause: Now that you have the foundation in place, create opportunities for your kids to slow down and explore what they are feeling. Rather than jumping into the next thing on your schedule or telling them what they “should” do, take a deep breath. Glance at your visual reminder together and have your child pick an option to try.
- Evaluate: Once your child has experienced a shift in mood or energy level, help them observe how they feel. Did this meet their need? Did this choice help or make things worse? There’s not going to be a one size fits all answer to every situation, but it’s helpful to know what has worked in the past so your child will know what to try next time.
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