Is There Power in the Pause... for Kids?
Our recent Guest Blogger, Dr. Blair Farr, made an excellent case for parents to cultivate mindfulness and to pause to take a breath. It is just as important for children of all ages to learn to do the same.
And summer, when we are all trying to rest, relax and recharge is the perfect time to introduce this idea. Yes, you can sign your child up for Yoga classes, or your child may be introduced to basic breathing techniques at her school, but you can just as easily teach them a simple approach to the pause, yourself.
I love to garden and an early activity that I introduced to my granddaughter Almalou was to smell the flowers. Even at age one, she would smell a picture of a flower or do the motion at the mention of "Nonna's Garden." In anticipation of her first birthday, we would practice blowing out the candles on a pretend cake with a long breath out. And without realizing it, we were already laying the foundation for the most basic and useful relaxation technique.
Now one year later at the approach of her two-year-old birthday, I have witnessed my granddaughter, quickly shift gears from crying to following her breath by a technique employed by my daughter which is basically "smell the flowers, blow out the candles." I am not sure who the first person to put these two activities together for children was, but the idea is genius!
It doesn't work every time, but like anything, its effectiveness increases with practice. It is especially important that it is introduced in a quiet moment when a child is most focused.
When my own children were little, and they got hurt, physically or emotionally, I would model the Lamaze Breathing that I had learned in my childbirth classes for them, and it had a very calming effect. I would say, "let's try to breathe in through our noses and out through our mouths." Just shifting their attention to their breathing and away from the hurt helped them to feel less pain. The "flower/candle" technique accomplishes the same.
Sometimes the break from our routines that summer provides can also create new challenges as we slip into later bedtimes and unfamiliar schedules. Teaching a new strategy for pausing and relaxing for a few minutes is just what parents and children need to truly recharge.
May your summer be filled with opportunities to stop and smell the roses!