From June 1st, lockdown restrictions are going to be eased across Australia. While some are worried that this may result in another wave of Covid-19 infections, others are seeing this as another step out of the pandemic, towards normalcy. Whichever way we chose to approach it, it is important that we are mindful of how our children are navigating these changes. Even though restrictions are easing and many are going back to their normal routines, they still may be feeling anxious or stressed.

At Aurora, we advocate for mindfulness in everything we do. By teaching our children mindfulness at the early childhood learning centre, we show them how to focus on the present and appreciate each moment without being judgemental. The practice of mindfulness also helps alleviate stress and anxiety.

All our programs at Aurora early education and childcare centre incorporate and are enriched with mindfulness. Through this week, we will be sharing mindfulness tips that, in the context of emerging from Covid-19, will help children focus on the present and feel calmer and more emotionally stable.

Tip #1   Paying attention to breath

paying attention to breath

You can do this activity anytime during the day or may try it out during times of rest, like  just before bedtime, naptime or during the quieter afternoon hours.

To start the activity, tell your child all they have to do is take deep, full breaths and exhale slowly.  After sitting in a relaxed position, ask your child to close his/her eyes and count “1”, “2” and “3” for each breath inhaled and exhaled. Ask them to pause after each exhale.

Now you need to ask questions to your children. The questions could range from something like – “Is the air filling in your lungs like a balloon?”, “Does an inhale feel like breathing in fresh, cold air?”, “What does an exhale feel like – warm, releasing worries?” Encourage them to think of what they feel and answer in mind.

Once the exercise is done, ask them to open their eyes gently.

Focusing on breathing is a great way to gain relief from anxious thoughts and overwhelming feelings. By letting your children focus on their breaths for just five to ten minutes, you can help them unwind and rejuvenate mentally and physically. Moreover, mindfulness breathing helps build on children’s ability to focus.

Tip #2 Establishing a practice of gratitude

establishing a practice of gratitude

Teach your children the importance of appreciating the present moment by involving them in the activity of “practicing gratitude”.  Give your child five minutes to think about the things that they are grateful for. Ask them to draw or paint their thoughts in a notebook which will transform into your child’s gratitude journal. 

If they seem to be struggling, give them suggestions about what they can think about such as “a person in their life”, “a hobby they adore”, “an item/thing they have”, “food, shelter” and so on. 

Ensure that you practice this activity at a fixed time every day like the first thing in the morning, after lunch or at the end of the day. The many advantages of practicing this mindfulness activity are that children become more optimistic, happier, satisfied and develop empathy towards others. Not just children but adults can greatly benefit from this activity, as it helps people to stay positive and strengthen and maintain supportive relationships. 

Tip #3 Mindful Walking

mindful walking

Mindful walking offers a range of benefits;it supports creativity, strengthens focus and concentration, aids in digestion and enhances physical health.

To begin, choose a place where you and your child can stroll quietly. It can be in a hallway, a large room or outdoors like your garden or a pathway in the neighbourhood. Give your child a boundary for where they should walk during this activity.

Let your child walk in the area by taking 5-6 steps, then come back to where they started, and then walk again. While doing so, ask your child to pay attention to the lifting and falling of his/her foot and movement of legs.

When your child learns to walk with full awareness, his or her mind will be reminded to dwell in the present and set aside thoughts and concerns. Practice this activity with your children and see how positive you will feel inside out with each passing day.

Tip #4 Breathing colours

breathing colours

Breathing colours or colour breathing meditation involves mentally visualising a colour that represents how you want to feel. This powerful technique helps reduce stress and increase focus and concentration.

To begin with, sit along with your children in a comfortable position with hands resting on legs. Now ask them to close their eyes and focus attention to breathing. Ask your children to think of any colour that makes them feel relaxed and calm.

Ask them how do they feel now – calm, relaxed, happy? Now tell them to think of a colour(s) that denotes anger or sadness (choose a relevant emotion). As they breathe out, ask them to imagine that all negative emotions are slowly exiting the body.

Tip #5 Body scan

body scan

A body scan is a relaxation activity that requires your children to focus their attention around the body, in the moment and observe any sensations that they become aware of. To perform a body scan activity, ask your children to lie on the floor and pay attention to their feet for 10-15 seconds with eyes closed. Now you can ask them a few questions such as – how do their feet feel – tight, relaxed, heavy, cold or warm?

Ask them to bring their awareness to their toes, ankles, calves and until they reach the head. Question them how each body part feels (warm, cold, stiff, relaxed etc.). In the case of tightness or stress, tell them to imagine stress exiting out of the body part with each exhale.

The benefits of practicing this type of mindfulness activity regularly are that it helps improve concentration, relieve stress, increase self-confidence and enhance emotional intelligence.