When I split up from the father of my children it was a pretty awful and stressful time. My daughter was only four at the time and although a lot went over her head, there was also a lot she absorbed. When something that life changing happens when you are that young you don’t have the tools to deal with it. She started to have trouble sleeping and would wake constantly from nightmares. Every night I would spend hours and hours trying to soothe her to sleep when I barely had the energy to put one foot in front of the other myself.
At the time I was seeing a psychologist who helped me practice mindfulness techniques to cope. They were brilliant tips and I still rely on them in moments of craziness (like Christmas). In one of my sessions I asked her if she had any recommendations for teaching children mindfulness. There are lots of great apps you can try like Smiling Mind one, but this little gem she taught me always works great for us.
When a child is ‘losing it’ and we tell them to breathe, it’s like asking a toddler to get in a car and drive it. They don’t know how to do it. So my psychologist told me to watch a video of a frog breathing on YouTube with my kids. A frog’s breathing is very visual and kids can see the art of inhaling and exhaling. So we practiced breathing in and out like the frog. It took a few go’s but it really helped to break the stress of most situations.
Three years later I can say to my kids ‘Frog on the lily pad’ and that’s code for stop what we are doing and breathe. It instantly calms them and creates a visual that they can immediately reference. For example, last night before a school excursion my daughter, now 7-years-old, was in tears. She had been so excited about the excursion she couldn’t sleep and then started to worry that she would be too tired to go. So we ‘frog and lily padded’ our way to sleep.
It’s such a great and simple mindfulness tool not just for my kids but for me too. Sometimes when dinner, bath and bedtime becomes way too much I call a ‘frog on the lily pad’ so I can keep my shit together. Works everytime.
Here’s a vid you can use. Please note the frog breathes faster than us so don’t breathe in time with the frog just use as a reference for your child to understand the visual in and out of breathing:
Or an app available for kids here.
Do you have any mindful tips for helping your children?