Hello all you beautiful people! Hope you are enjoying the long weekend… and we have on the blog today, Maricela Robles who helps parents to effortlessly introduce meditation to their children. She the creator of Mediation for Modern Kids (monk robe not required) an online masterclass series which brings together meditation and mindfulness experts, psychologists and child well-being specialists to provide the go-to resource for parents who want to raise happy, kind and resilient kids in today’s digital world.
I am sure that parents are going to find this article super interesting and I would highly recommend acknowledging your feelings this weekend and also trying out some of the tips given in this article
What’s the difference between saying that you are “staying at home” or that you are “stuck at home”?
Both define the same fact, but a very different feeling.
Even though it might not seem like it, every day of this quarantine, you get to choose how you feel about staying at home. And that emotion will determine how you react to everything and everyone during the day.
But why does this even matter?
Hello Stress Hormones
Because currently you and your kids are receiving a daily (extra) dose of cortisol, adrenaline and nor-epinephrine, a.k.a. the stress hormones.
These hormones are responsible for our innate fight or flight response. And because we are only meant to get them in small doses (i.e. while the threat is imminent), they wreak all sorts of havoc in our bodies when they are present constantly.
You might think that you have no control over these stressors, but the reality is that Covid-19 is not releasing these hormones, it’s your reaction and perception to the pandemic that is making you stressed.
The fear, the moaning, the worry, the anger, the sadness… the “I’m stuck at home” mentality feeds your stress hormones and your kids will pick up on it. Once you realize that your reactions cause the stress you feel, then the answer becomes evident: change your reactions.
Easier said than done, right? And even more difficult when you are trying to explain this mindtwister to your kids: “it’s not the lack of lollipop that is making you upset, it’s your reaction to it”...
But there is a better way, one that will continue serving you and your kids long after Covid-19 is gone.
Goodbye Stress, Hello Zen
Changing our reactions is partly about mindset and mostly about emotional regulation. Because it’s actually our emotional reaction to events that create/increase stress.
But how exactly can you and your kids learn to regulate your emotions?
As the Harvard Medical School recently put it a “tried and true way” is by practicing meditation. And if you have never tried it, let me unpack why meditation works so well to regulate emotions.
Most of our reactions are actually unconscious. For example, when you complain you may not even be aware that you are doing it… until your child does it and you think where did he/she pick that up? Once you bring awareness to your action (or reaction) you increase your chance of changing it. After all, you can’t change something you don’t even know you are doing.
Emotions & Relaxation
Most people think that meditation is about sitting with your eyes closed and a blank mind. And yes that’s a good place to start. But it’s also about becoming capable of feeling a wide range of emotions and choosing to let go of those that don’t serve you.
Let me repeat that, because this is particularly important for your children.
It’s not about not feeling emotions like sadness or anger or repressing them, it’s about feeling them, acknowledging them and letting them go.
That is the real crux of emotional regulation. When you tell your kids don’t be sad or angry – they might understand this to mean that they need to repress those emotions or that it’s not ok to feel them.
However, regulating their emotions allows them to:
- Become aware of the emotion: I’m feeling sad, angry, fearful, anxious…
- Recognize and understand why they are feeling it: Because I miss my friends, I can’t do what I want, I don’t know what is going to happen…
- Become capable of letting it go: I miss my friends, but I’m grateful that I can still speak to them, I can’t go outside, but I can play with this instead, I don’t know what will happen, but I’m happy to be with my parents…
An understanding of the emotion is the first step to relaxation and letting go, which leads to the emotion no longer controlling your body and your reactions and leads to emotional regulation.
Why learning emotional regulation becomes easier if you start early
If you think that all of this emotional regulation is easier for adults than for kids, you couldn’t be more mistaken. Stress is not our natural state of being. This is obvious when you watch a young child being angry one minute and laughing hysterically the next. They don’t hold on to these emotions, they are masters at letting go.
However, slowly as they grow up they become conditioned into thinking or feeling a certain way. So if mom and dad are constantly in fear, anger, sadness… guess what behaviour the kids are going to develop?
If you introduce meditation to children from a young age, emotional regulation becomes second nature and will become a skill that will allow them to keep their cool when things get “difficult” and develop higher emotional intelligence as adults.
Want a glimpse of what meditation can do for your family?
Give this a try with your children:
For 2 minutes sit together and with your eyes closed start recalling things that you are grateful for and that have brought you happiness:
- The first time your child rode a bike without falling;
- A tender moment where you expressed love for each other,
- Perhaps feeling proud of them when they won a match or shoot their first goal.
And for those 2 minutes, you and your children should dwell into that emotion, recalling every detail of the moment.
At the end of those 2 minutes you and your children will have reduced your stress levels, lowered your blood pressure, increased your energy, and released dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins (a.k.a. The happy hormones) all over your body.
After that you can congratulate yourself and your kids on having completed your first ever meditation.
Maricela Robles, helps parents effortlessly introduce meditation to their children through bedtime (or anytime) stories. In addition to writing books like “You don’t need your body to sail a boat” & “Why does mummy always sleep sitting up?” that get children excited about trying meditation after the very first reading, Maricela provides parents with all the tools they need to get their kids meditating through her website Meditation Fairy. Maricela lives in Switzerland with her husband and 6-year-old son. She is an environmental lawyer, turned children’s author and meditator. When not writing on her laptop or scribbling ideas on her notepad you can find Maricela analyzing the newest animated movie with her son or exploring mountain hiking trails.
Stay tuned for more resources, we have some great content lined up with experts in various fields – marketing gurus, coaches, wellness experts, chefs, and teachers to get you through this tough time. Stay safe and healthy! Make the most of your quarantine with My Swiss Story.
To read more articles from this series, click here.