Protecting the emotional safety and wellbeing of children is a fundamental concern of every parent.
Currently, we are experiencing challenges in different ways: lockdowns, school closure, remote learning, rising mental health issues and uncertainty to name the most obvious. Navigating situations like extended lockdown can trigger a range of responses and reactions in children and prompt parents to ask questions about how to support the mental health of their children. Now, more than ever, do we need to engage in conversations that uphold and highlight solutions and strategies so we can transition as a community with greater ease, flow and confidence in the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of fostering resilient kids.
How can parents support their children during these difficult transitions?
It is vital that parents and educators have language and tools to help not only support their own wellbeing, but nurture their child’s, too. With Google and the internet providing a plethora of information and resources to go to, parents can sometimes feel overwhelmed about where to turn and what information or guidance to follow.
As a Vedic meditator, primary school teacher of twelve years and an author, I approach wellbeing inspired by Ayurvedic wisdom and knowledge: that what you focus your attention on, grows.
To delve deeper into this knowledge, if ‘like increases like’, then how can we incorporate this wisdom into how we foster resilience and wellbeing in children?
The solution? It’s quite simple: let’s bring our attention and awareness back to the present moment and anchor our daily routines in habits that nurture and nourish mind, body and soul.
How does this connect to the ‘why?’
Taking the principle of ‘like increases like’, parents can begin daily conversations around: what does love look like? Feel like? Sound like? What does kindness look like? Feel like and sound like? What does respect look like? Feel like and sound like? Children are naturally intuitive and make connections between everything they see, say and do.
Establishing values that are consistent with this Ayurvedic principle, will ensure that parents are living and role modelling values and virtues aligned to ‘increasing’ more of the same.
If we want to create more love, let’s focus our attention, language, emotions and thoughts on enlivening love within ourselves, our relationships and then with children.
Conscious parenting by no means ignores or devalues challenge or adversity; rather it accepts the present moment in all its fullness, and seeks to provide expression and meaning to the depth and beauty of human emotion and experience. This approach defines the ‘why’ – the pinnacle of establishing resilience is the ability to accept and acknowledge the present moment; to surrender to the Now and to gravitate towards fostering deeper connection to truth, being and purpose.
Resilience is an ‘inside’ job. It’s how we feel. It’s how we think. It’s how we behave. It’s the choices we repeatedly make; it’s the way we communicate to each other, and it’s the values and beliefs we foster with children.
If love is the most robust emotion, then enlivening this with children is paramount to maintaining safe, positive relationships. Children naturally absorb their parents’ approach to life; as such, they are constantly mirroring with the behavior of their parents and learning first hand by what is said and done. When stress and change take place, parents need to come back to ‘what you focus your attention on, grows.’
Establishing and maintaining daily routines for children include 3 M’s: movement, mood and meditation.
Movement is vital for encouraging children to get outside, learn new skills, to engage in sports and activities. Fresh air, connecting to nature, exploring new places are all incredible ways to increase wellbeing.
Maintaining mood involves daily routines that work in accordance with nature’s rhythms: getting to sleep at the same time and up every morning, eating healthy, nourishing meals and being creative. Learning to express emotions in a meaningful way; singing, dancing, learning an instrument, cooking, writing, reading all help enliven and move emotions through the body.
Meditation is the corner stone of how I maintain my wellbeing and I have also shared mindfulness practices with my students. Children as young as 5, are able to learn how to breathe deep into their belly and learn how to notice the change in breathing as a response to changes in physical reactions and perceived stress. From breath awareness, mantras, chanting, belly breathing and visualisations, there are so many wonderful techniques and teachers out there who help empower children to learn how to meditate.
The Golden Thread
In 2018, I wrote a picture story book called, The Golden Thread. Inspired by Vedic wisdom that ‘we are all one’, the golden thread is a thread of pure love that connects anyone to someone they miss or are separated from. The book is based on my own personal experience of losing my brother to a hit and run incident when I was 17.
If children are at home separated from their school, teacher and friends, they can use the golden thread as a framework to help visualise them and imagine thread of love connecting them together.
Again, this approach includes ‘like increases like’ and ‘what you focus your attention on, grows’. Ayurvedic knowledge is activated through action, intent and being; now is the time for parents to remember their nature and inspire a cascade of love in their daily routine, interaction and living.