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We welcomed 2021 with mixed feelings of hopefulness and trepidation. So we asked Nikki Hedstrom, author of mindfulness book for kids A Thought is a Thought, to give us some tips and tools to regain our balance, face this month's challenges with positivity and nurture healthy young minds.
While we have 2020 in our rear-view mirror, the current lockdown is making our start to 2021 challenging. Although it’s a difficult start to the year, it’s a perfect time to reflect on how to improve our wellbeing. This pandemic has been hard on us, but it has also been hard on our children. As we say goodbye to 2020 and head into 2021, we are confronted with more challenges. Historically, January is one of our most difficult months; the holidays are behind us, credit card bills are rolling in and winter is far from over. The extra layer of stress brought on by the COVID 19 lockdown and the pressure for parents who are homeschooling, compounds the challenges. So how do we get our families through this difficult time of year with a bit more positivity and reflection?
My advice is for you to start with checking in on your thoughts.
Our thoughts impact our emotions which in turn influence our behaviour. A stressful thought about bills can turn into anxiety, which could manifest itself in lack of patience in other areas. As a society, we are carrying a lot of stress and that stress can shift to our children. “Adults set the emotional tone for our children. As mammals, our brains are held captive to one another. Our chaos or calm are contagious, especially to those we spend the most time with.” As noted by Tina Payne Bryson. For that reason, creating calm in the home starts with the adults. If you are looking for ideas that will help reduce the anxiety and stress in your house, here are some of my favourite activities:
Gratitude Practice - Reflect on What’s Good:
Gratitude is a healthy habit for the whole household to adopt. Even in these challenging times, there are things to be grateful for, and gratitude helps us rewire our brains to think more positively.
Whether it’s having a practice to talk about one good thing that happened in the day or keeping a gratitude journal, focusing on the good helps us gain perspective and shifts us into a more positive mindset. Some helpful prompts to use are:
Here’s a worksheet you can use with your child to reflect on what they are grateful for.
Positive Affirmations - Building Resilience:
Another great tool is having a positive affirmation practice. Teaching our children to have positive thoughts about themselves helps build confidence and self-esteem and helps them cope when they are faced with adversity. Here is a handy guide of some of my favourite affirmations:
I recommend teaching your child to repeat this 3 times daily. You can do it together while they are getting dressed for the day or when they are getting ready for bed. It’s helpful to post it where you see it daily so you can make it a habit. If your child has other strengths, have them create their own “I am” statements. The goal is for these “I am” statements to resonate with them. Here’s a free positive affirmation worksheet to use at home.
Breathing Exercises - Teach Your Child to Self-Soothe:
Breathwork is the easiest way to calm the nervous system no matter where you are. It’s a great tool to teach your child to help them self-soothe when they are feeling anxious. It’s also a good practice for you to adopt as a parent. Another quick tip for adults is to practice breathing in and out of your nose.
Here are some step-by-step instructions you can use with your child:
Once your child understands this practice, work on having them do it sitting or standing. Encourage them to take 3-4 deep breaths anytime they are feeling anxious.
Connect - Cozy up with a Good Book:
Having a routine of reading to your child helps get our minds out of the worries of the day and encourages us escape into new worlds. It’s also a great time to cuddle up together (which can boost our oxytocin). If your child is having a hard time with worrisome thoughts, I recommend picking up “A Thought is a Thought”. The book features a thought exercise, an emotions chart to help them identify the feeling that matches the thought, and the positive affirmations and breathing exercise featured above.
Some other books that help with positive thinking and self-esteem are:
I hope you find these tips helpful and that you are able to incorporate them into your family’s daily routine. Wishing you all positive thoughts.
Thank you, Nikki, for these great tips! Visit her website and follow her on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram to learn more about her book and for more great insights and tools to empower our children and build healthy young minds.
Nikki is a first-time author from Vancouver, Canada with a passion for helping people and creating change. She has been working in the advertising industry for the past 15 years, creating immersive brand experiences, using interactive displays and meaningful dialogue to engage and shift minds. She has leveraged this skill to help make the discussion about thoughts tangible and to create activities that help households reduce anxiety.