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How to teach kids empathy

1:10 pm 27 April 2021 Jose-Fernandez 0 Comments

I recently shared a post on social media about the language parents use when communicating with children about their emotions. In the post, I recommended that parents avoid telling their kids that their actions “make” them feel sad (or happy, or angry or…well…you get the drift). And it caused a bit of a stir. Many people who commented on the post believed that using this language was teaching their kids empathy. They were surprised to learn that I didn’t agree. And they were left wondering how to teach kids empathy, if that wasn’t it.

So let me explain. Here’s how we really teach kids empathy.

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You don’t need to teach your child to share

1:08 pm 27 April 2021 Jose-Fernandez 0 Comments

Share. If you have young children, you probably say, or hear, that word about eleventy million times a day. Every time you go to a park, a playground, a playcentre, on a playdate, to a party. In your own lounge room. Dining room. Bedroom. Playroom. Hey, probably even the bathroom. We spend A LOT of time as parents encouraging our kids to share.

And I get it. None of us wants to be the parent of ‘that’ child. We are terrified that if we don’t teach our kids how to share when they are young, they will grow up to be selfish and entitled. The kid no one invites to parties or playdates. We don’t want that for our kids. Or for ourselves!

We want to raise kind, generous kids who get along well with others. And it’s our job to guide them and teach them and ensure that happens right? But what if what we’re doing is actually making things worse?

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6 fun Halloween mindfulness exercises for kids

12:59 pm 27 April 2021 Jose-Fernandez 0 Comments

When I think of Halloween, I think of fun games and activities, Halloween parties, yummy food, cute pumpkin crafts, adorable costumes, and getting together with neighbourhood friends to have a good laugh together. And while Halloween might be looking a bit different this year for lots of us, most of these things CAN still happen, and it doesn’t have to be any less fun! In fact, with trick or treating cancelled this year in places, this is a perfect opportunity to focus less on treats and more on health, wellness and connection with the people we love!

So today I’m giving you 6 of my favourite Halloween mindfulness exercises for kids. These activities come from my Mindful Little Halloween Activity Book and will help you make Halloween extra special and lots of fun for your little people this year, no matter what it’s going to look like.

And, while these activities are all playful and fun, they also all serve a very important purpose. They help your child learn about emotions and how to manage them, so that ultimately, you can have a calmer Halloween this year (and a calmer home too!).

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10 ways parents can calm down in the moment

12:53 pm 27 April 2021 Jose-Fernandez 0 Comments

One of the most frequent challenges parents tell me about is their inability to calm down in the moment. In the moment when your child is melting down over the colour of their cup. In the moment when they are yelling and flailing around on the floor. In the moment when they are screaming, “I hate you, go away!”. In the moment when you ask them to do something for the millionth time and they ignore you.

It’s hard to stay calm in those moments.

But you know you need to, right? You know that if you want to help your child learn how to effectively manage their emotions, then you need to learn how to manage your own first. And you’re frustrated and feeling like a failure because you just. can’t. Sound familiar?

Calm Begets Calm

The problem of course, is that when we meet our child’s big emotions with our own big emotions, the situation tends to escalate. But when we are able to remain calm ourselves, we are able to hold space for our child’s emotions. We are able to hear them, contain them, and reflect their feelings back to our kids in a way that helps them feel understood.

Most importantly, when we are able to stay calm and regulated in the midst of our children’s distress, we help them feel SAFE. And a nervous system that feels safe is a calm nervous system.

So the first step in helping our kids learn to self regulate, is to learn how to self regulate ourselves. If we can remain calm, and not fly off the handle, yell, lash out or use harsh tones with our kids when they are distressed, then we are able to soothe their distress and de-escalate the situation.

But HOW do you actually do that?

Well, the key is to get in early. When you are tuned into your own early warning signs you can put strategies in place to manage your emotions before they get out of hand. So, next time you start to feel your stress levels rising, try one of these strategies to calm down in the moment. They will help you calm down quickly so that you can respond to your child with intention, and help them feel calm too.

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Certified online mindfulness training for Childcare Teachers

9:47 pm 5 November 2020 Jose-Fernandez 0 Comments

Become a mindfulness teacher through our certified 8 week online training for Childcare Teachers.

Certified online mindfulness training for Childcare Teachers course

Who is the course for:

  • This certified online mindfulness training for Childcare Teachers has been created specifically for Childcare educators. There is no prerequisite for this course. Anyone working in the childcare industry is welcome to enrol in the course to become an Internationally Accredited Mindfulness For Children Teacher. Additionally, students can join our private Facebook community for ongoing support and networking.

Learning objective:

  • Understand and practice the four foundations of mindfulness.
  • Gain a psychological understanding of ways of improving wellbeing within yourself and others.
  • Conceptualise the connection between mindfulness and the early years learning frameworks (EYLF).
  • Learn how to create your own mindfulness and meditation exercises.
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Free Mindfulness For Children Exercise

9:56 pm 4 November 2020 Jose-Fernandez 0 Comments

A free mindfulness for children exercise created by Elizabeth Mulhane

An exercise in mindfulness of feelings, thoughts and mental objects for young children

This free mindfulness for children exercise focuses on mindfulness of feelings, thoughts and mental objects – for young children and is best delivered, after you yourself have experienced it. So, before teaching this to the children please take the time to do the exercise yourself. When we teach from ‘insight’ we teach from a place of true knowledge and understanding.

When you look at this picture – where do you ‘feel’ your emotions and sensations?

For me, I feel emotion within my face the strongest (even within my eyes) . Then I notice the sensations flowing down my throat and into my stomach. And I feel sensations traveling through my arms and into my hands.

What automatic thoughts pop into your head?

For me, it’s things like ‘Awwwwww, way too cute’ and ‘one day you will be mine’

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10 ideas to teach kids mindfulness.

9:20 pm 4 November 2020 Jose-Fernandez 0 Comments

This blog, ’10 ideas to teach kids mindfulness’ was inspired through the parents from my Facebook Community: Mindfulness For Children.

We want our children to enjoy learning mindfulness and meditation. So it’s important that we keep it enjoyable. The following ideas are meant to help you do just that. These ideas have been generated through a group chat post, in response to the question:

What mindfulness and meditation exercises are you finding the kids are really enjoying?

  1. Guided Imagery meditation was mentioned the most times.

This meditation is best down laying down. The children learn to use their minds eye to create mental imagery. Ideas for a mind’s eyes journey may include cultivating a beautiful garden in our imagination; or walking through a forest; or along a beach.

Try this adult version for yourself: Mind’s eye meditation with Elizabeth Mulhane

2. Breathing exercises where they are laying down with a stuff toy resting on their belly.

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How long should my child practice mindfulness?

9:14 pm 4 November 2020 Jose-Fernandez 0 Comments

The answer to the question, ‘‘How long should my child practice mindfulness?” is individual for each child. However, as a rule a child aged 3 to 12 years of age may practice ‘formal mindfulness training’ for around 1 to 5 minutes. You may have heard that a child should practice for one minute for each year they are. For example, a 3 year old should be practicing for 3 minutes, while a 12 years old should be practicing for 12 minutes. However, this is the fastest way to have children hate mindfulness training. And if you are trying to get your children to practice formal mindfulness of breath for 5 to 10 minutes you have probably already noticed most children don’t want to practice for that long! In fact, most adults can’t even do it!

Why? Because that’s more like a ‘time out’ to the average child. Children love learning new things when it’s an enjoyable experience. They are also very quick to dislike learning experiences that just aren’t fun. Take a moment and recall you yourself as a child. Would you enjoy sitting still and focusing on your breathing for 10 minutes?  No, of course not! What’s more you would probably be wonder what’s wrong with the grown ups!

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