Yoga and Mindfulness for children.
Empowering Parenthood: Affirmations to Strengthen Your Bond with Your Child
Sometimes I feel really rubbish in my parenting, I feel like I'm not doing enough, the kids are having too much screen time or I'm not doing as much as other families. Sometimes these thoughts come when I'm experiencing migraine, a pain flair up or am just exhausted. Days when I need to rest, and I need to do what I need to just to get through the day, but nevertheless my brain still pipes in with these negative thoughts.
It can be really hard on these days, because as much as you may know it's not true, it still feels rubbish.
In this post we will be looking at why affirmations can be useful as a parent, how to effectively use affirmations, how to transform affirmations to work for us, 10 affirmations for strengthening bonds with your child, and how to start using them.
Using affirmations for empowered parenting
When I started to use affirmations in my parenting, I felt huge relief. I was able to focus my mind on the positive words, tap into that empowered feeling and feel so much better about myself and my parenting. Instead of focusing on the bad and feeling completely helpless, I was able to focus on the good. I was able to strengthen my bonds with my children in those moments and beyond.
How to use affirmations effectively
Our brain wants to believe what we tell it. If we tell ourselves how bad we are at something, how stupid we are or that we are a bad parent - we start to believe it. Sometimes we don't even notice we are doing it (this is why self-awareness is so important).
You can start using affirmations by writing them down and putting them on your mirror/ some place you'll see often, using them as passwords, using them in meditations or simply just repeating them to yourself when needed. You can include them in your journal, on your vision board or even practice mindful colouring of affirmations, I've seen some great books for this!
Do affirmations always work?
I like affirmations and they work for me but the ones that resonate with me, may not resonate with you. This is important because you need to be able to tap into the energy of an affirmation. If you feel like it is a complete lie, it is going to cause you more stress.
Just like in Liar Liar when Jim Carrey was trying to say that the pen was red. He was trying to tell a lie but couldn't, he could only tell the truth - the pen is blue. If you don't believe what you are saying, it is going to be stressful!
If this is the case, then you may need to build up towards that affirmation. Let's stick with this pen analogy. We can't say 'the pen is red.' even if it was red, we just don't believe that it is..... too confusing? Stick with me here.
We could say 'May I start to see this pen as red.' We can feel a bit better about this right?
This can work for times when we really don't believe that we are good enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, a good enough parent etc. In this case, it feels like a lie if we are to say 'I am good enough.' This is where I like to change 'I am' statements to 'May I see that I am' or 'I am learning to' or another way to change the statement to make it feel good.
For example - I am beautiful. This could be a really difficult one for someone to repeat in front of a mirror or to themselves if they were having real body image issues. By repeating it to themselves over and over it could get very upsetting. Instead this person could say - 'I am learning to appreciate my beauty' or 'I am learning to love myself exactly how I am' or even 'My body is healthy and functions well.'
So when choosing your affirmations, take a moment to notice how they make you feel. Do they make you feel empowered? Do they spark joy or confidence? Is it challenging to say? Can you re-word it in your own words to make it 'fit' better?
10 Affirmations to Strengthen Your Bond with Your Child
How will you practice yours?
In this post we have looked at why affirmations can be useful as a parent, how to effectively use affirmations, how to transform affirmations to work for us, 10 affirmations for strengthening bonds with your child, and how to start using them.
Strengthening bonds with Yoga
Practicing partner yoga poses with your child is a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your child. It allows you to connect with your child in a fun and playful way while also promoting physical activity and mindfulness. The shared experience of practicing yoga together can create a deeper sense of trust and understanding between you and your child, and help to bring you closer together.
Sign up now for Partner Pose Playtime! A 40 minute class for you and your child to spend quality time together while caring for your well-being!
4/21/2023 0 Comments
Be an environmental superhero!
Teaching children important ways to care for the planet
Happy Earth Day!
On Earth day me and my family often take a moment to pause and reflect on how we can better care for the planet. While this is a great reminder to do so, it is important that the work doesn't stop there. Every day is a new opportunity to do something good for the planet. It may not feel like we are making much of a difference by doing a few seemingly small acts but if we are all doing it.... that makes a huge difference. Now we can't control what everyone else is doing, so we can only focus on what we are doing, but trust you are not alone. There are so many people that care about the planet and teaching children how they can care for the planet too will help them and future generations to come.
10 ways children can help protect the planet, reduce waste and live more peacefully with nature:
We only have one Earth
It is important for us to take action and care for the planet now because our actions have severe consequences on our environment not just for the well-being of future generations but the animals and plant life that are here right now. Climate change, pollution, and loss of biodiversity are just some of the issues that require immediate attention. By taking action now, we can help mitigate these problems and create a sustainable future for ourselves and for the planet.
Yoga and the environment
Ahimsa means doing no harm. Ahimsa is one element of Yoga that we can practice beyond the poses. This principle extends beyond just avoiding physical harm to others, but also includes nonviolence towards the environment. As humans, it is our responsibility to protect and preserve the natural world and its resources for future generations. By practicing ahimsa and caring for the environment, we can lead a more conscious and sustainable lifestyle that supports the well-being of all living beings.
One fun yoga game I love to play with the children is one I call "Earth Warriors".
How do you care for the planet?
It can be so overwhelming trying to do all the things to protect the planet. I know for me I still have room for plenty of improvement. If you are feeling like this to, know that it is okay not to do ALL the things, just do what you can. Make a conscious effort to reduce waste and live a more eco friendly life and remember it doesn't have to be perfect, just do what you can.
I'd love to know your best tips for reducing waste and living a more eco friendly life! Comment below > >
Useful links for Earth Day
Practice with me this month>>
It was an hour before a family yoga class outdoors that I was teaching for charity. I was so nervous. This was the only event on the schedule like this and all of the other classes were geared towards adults. I was nervous that I was doing something different and also that this was going to be my biggest class yet!
It turned out to be an amazing class that is still talked about years later. It was funny because some adults turned up without their kids expecting one of the usual Yoga classes - the amazing thing was they still joined in! It was just such an amazing sense of community. My favourite part was all the adults making a tunnel (standing face to face with a gap between them and joining their hands together up high) and then the children going through the tunnel. Me and a few other helpers blew bubbles and we pretended it was a car wash. There were so many giggles!
Children's yoga teachers may struggle with confidence due to various reasons such as lack of experience, fear of judgement, and self-doubt. However, these pain points can be transformed into confidence by focusing on their strengths, practicing self-care, and seeking support from peers and mentors. Even the most experienced Yoga teachers still have moments of imposter syndrome or wondering if they are good enough.
By acknowledging their own growth and progress, setting achievable goals, and prioritizing their own well-being, kids yoga teachers can build the confidence needed to lead engaging and impactful classes for their young students.
Whenever I was feeling nervous before a class, I would stop, breathe, and practice a few affirmations. In this post I want to share how you can make affirmations part of your daily routine, 10 powerful affirmations that you can practice and how practicing these affirmations will make you a more confident Yoga teacher.
Make affirmations a daily habit
Making affirmations a part of your daily habit can help build confidence. Here are some tips to get started:
10 Affirmations to build confidence (for Children's Yoga teachers)
How can these affirmations make you a more confident Yoga teacher?
Practicing affirmations can help you become a more confident yoga teacher by training your mind to focus on positive thoughts and beliefs. By regularly repeating affirmations such as "I am a skilled and effective yoga teacher" or "I am confident in my ability to guide my students," you can start to internalize these beliefs and feel more confident in your teaching abilities. Additionally, affirmations can help you cultivate a positive mindset, which can improve your overall well-being and ability to connect with your students.
Which affirmation resonates with you?
In this post we have looked at how you can start adding affirmations into your daily routine, some powerful affirmations to use and why it can help you to become a more confident teacher. I would love to know, which affirmation resonated the most for you? Which will you be using? Maybe you have your own! Share below in the comments!
Looking for a Done for you lesson plans to save you time and energy? Check out this Free 8 week Lesson schedule for Children's Yoga Teachers!
Want to practice Yoga with kids at home, looking to have some fun and enjoy Yoga together??
Join The Superhero Challenge!
5 Yoga poses for little superheroes
Bringing themes in to our yoga practices with children can be such a good way to keep them engaged and get clear on our intention.
When I think about super heroes and how we can use this theme in relation to Yoga, I think about ways that we can remind our children how super they are and help them to build confidence. I think about power poses that help us to take up space (Highly recommend the ted talk by Amy Cuddy about body language >> watch here). I think about ways we can be superheroes by making a difference in someone's day or helping to protect the planet by caring for the environment. I think about what talents we each have as individuals and what makes us super. And I think about building strength, awareness and being able to relax.
It is just one theme, but there is so much that you can do with it!
In this post, I'll be sharing with you 5 poses for your little superhero that you can practice at home! (Teachers may also like to bring this theme into their classes).
Pose One: Listening
Pose two: Balance
Pose three: Low flying
Pose Four: Let's Fly!
Pose five rest
Have you joined the Superhero Challenge?
Join me for a Free Superhero Challenge that will be taking place over 3 days. We will have practices for children to practice alongside their adult, live mindfulness sessions and chance for Q&A, prizes to give away and lots of fun and connection!
This Challenge will take you from unsure how to practice with your child, to having loads of fun, being present and connecting in this playful way!
Who is your favourite Superhero?
Is your child too old for tantrums?
While we can see times are changing, the mentality around how children should behave is still very old fashioned. In the last 10-20 years alone science has come so far in helping us to understand our child's brain development and yet we still get triggered when kids act like kids.
In this post we will look at why kids behaviour is triggering for us, what age do tantrums stop, how offering a do-over can benefit the family and how to help your child tune into how they are feeling to prevent tantrums.
Why does kids acting like kids trigger us?
I was sat in a cafe' once with my baby and my young child, maybe 5 at the time. Baby was sleeping so me and my 5 year old were having a nice time together, having hot chocolate and playing with these two beautiful wooden cars. When we were packing up to go, an elder man leaned in and said "You should write a book, your children are so well behaved." I was delighted by this, it felt good.
Then the baby got older..... he started losing his mind at cafes and days out and no matter how calm I stayed, no one came over and said I should write a book. Instead looks of pity, expectant looks to see how I was going to put him in his place, looks of judgement and then of course every now and then a look of 'been there'.
It is easy to see how we have been programmed to believe that a child's behaviour is a reflection on our parenting. How many times have you heard about a teenager up to no good and heard "Where are their parents?!".
When we think about a child's behaviour as a reflection of us, instead of tuning in to what is really going on, we miss an opportunity to support our child. It becomes about us, instead of about them.
They are not giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time.
I think this quote is so important. When a child is 'acting out' or having a tantrum or a melt down, we have to remember it is not about us, we have to let that go in order to be present with them and connect with what they need.
Are tantrums just for toddlers?
I'm not proud to admit this but I have stormed off from my kids in a huff, slammed a door and had my own little tantrum. I caught myself doing this before and after I actually laughed, and said to myself "What are you doing?". It felt ridiculous but I was just so overwhelmed, overstimulated, probably over tired and it just happened! Our nervous systems react before our brain. If our nervous system feels under attack in any way or unsafe, it sends signals to the brain and the brain will back it up. The brain says yes, you are right, this is trouble, get out of here!
That is our flight mode. You may have heard the term fight of flight or fight, flight, freeze. What this is, is our sympathetic nervous system keeping us safe. Very helpful when we are in danger, not so helpful when it thinks your kids are the danger.
If this can happen to adults, then of course it can happen to children of any age. The trick is knowing how to calm yourself, catch yourself in that moment. This takes practice and they're not going to get it right every time, just like I didn't get it right this time with slamming a door.
I know plenty of adults who have tantrums and do not know how to come back from it. They stay stuck for ages. 'One thing' (most likely a series of things that led up to this in the background) can seemingly ruin the whole day. Their nervous system is stuck in fight or flight (more on that in a moment) and they are not having a good time.
One example of this is Nina. Nina is a mum of three and she took her kids to the zoo. After being triggered by her children whining about ice-cream and not wanting to walk any more, needing to be carried, and one kid just kept wondering off and not listening she snapped. Her nervous system could not take any more. She shouted at the kids and said they are leaving right this moment. The kids cried, she felt burning red and dragged the kids out of the Zoo as quickly as possible. When they got home and she had calmed down a bit, she felt this awful pang of guilt, the whole day had been ruined.
A calmer Nina, may have been able to address the children's behaviour and went on to have a nice day full of connection, but a dysregulated adult can not help a child to regulate.
So what did I do?
The laughter helped bring me back to the present for a moment, and then I knew I had to calm my nervous system down. I find the best way to do this is through the breath. I connected back to breath. Taking a slow breath in through the nose, and out through the mouth. I did this five times. Then I picked myself up off the floor, opened the door and went back to my kids who were happily playing (probably instead of going to bed, I can't remember what my tantrum was all about but it was likely that they just weren't listening). I apologize to my children where I need to, if I've shouted or said anything that 'calm me' would never say. Now is a time for a do-over.
What is a do-over?
Do-overs are something I practice with the kids, and I also need one myself sometimes. It is not fair for me to have a do-over but never let them have one, right? There is a very common power dynamic that plays out in the traditional family model of parents being able to do and say what they want with no repercussions and if children say something out of line or act a certain way, they get punished. I'm not a fan of that. I like to practice mutual respect with my children, they are not afraid to call me out if they can see I need to go and take a few breaths. They don't live in fear of me, instead we work together as a team. This doesn't mean they agree with me 100% of the time. Far from it. I still say no and hold boundaries and rules, but it does mean that they are comfortable expressing themselves, sharing how they feel and telling me if they don't like something. There is open communication.
A do-over allows us to rewind the situation and play out a better way. In a do-over we are more aware about our emotional state and what we are needing to express. It allows for better communication (verbal and non-verbal) and a chance for connection.
If adults have tantrums, does that mean there is no hope of my child stopping?
We have spoke about why our body suddenly goes into tantrum mode as adults even, but with children they are still developing. Their brain will not be fully developed until they are in their mid 20s! Understanding this development helps us to stay calm. I think one reason we get triggered is because we feel like maybe they are manipulating us or just trying to get their own way. When we see that isn't the case and just stories we have heard or that have been passed down to us, we can stop buying into that and focus instead on connection.
With practice of self-awareness and self-regulation tools, children may be able to calm themselves or express themselves differently than a tantrum but sometimes they wont. Sometimes that tantrum is going to help move some of that pent up stress and emotions through the body. So it is not a bad thing, it just is what it is.
How can you support a child who tantrums a lot?
I have a guide book that goes into this in much greater detail. It has some coping strategies, some life changing tips for the parent and some Yoga and mindfulness practices that will help your child too.
You can get your copy here : Calm seas
In summary, we have looked at why kids behaviour is triggering for us, why tantrums are for any age, how offering a do-over can benefit the family and how self-awareness can help your child tune into how they are feeling to prevent tantrums. We have also looked at why your child having tantrums is not a reflection on you, and why you should focus on connection over how you think they should behave.
How do you feel when your child of any age, has a tantrum? Do you take it personally by saying something like "I've spoilt you rotten today, why are you treating me like this?" or do you feel flustered at not being able to calm them? Maybe you feel something completely different. Comment below.
How Yoga can help your Family with change of routines
When I first typed the title of this blog I had written 'How Yoga can help your child with change of routines' but I quickly realised that actually what I was going to write was going to be more focused around you and your child.
In this post I will share why the thought of the holidays used to stress me out, why it can be hard for children and grownups, how lockdown actually helped me out of this rut, being bored vs planned activities, how Yoga can help bring some calm and balance in this time and also how themes might be just what you need to inspire some play!
Holidays are stressful!
I can remember the thought of the school holidays would have me feeling stressed. It wasn't that I didn't love spending time with my children, it was just the change of routine would change everything.
I have my own little routines that I get on with when the children are at school, like many parents (be it work, chores or even some much needed self-care time).
When the children are home, it can feel more challenging to get these things done or you may feel guilty because you feel you should be spending time with them instead, or doing something super fun like Jake's parents who are taking him to a castle and having a yummy lunch together (you know because you saw all the pictures on social media). That comparison kicks in and suddenly what you are doing, doesn't feel like enough. This can lead to so much stress, resentment, feelings of not being good enough, and sadness.
For children, change of routine might feel great at first, they love having time off from school but unless there is something planned for the day they can start getting bored, irritable, watching way too much tv and then getting annoyed when it's time to turn it off, they don't want to get dressed and sometimes it's 3pm and you just just realised that they haven't brushed their teeth yet.
On a school morning they have a set routine and order of doing things, they always get their teeth brushed and dressed no bother. This change of morning routine may feel great, you get to slow down a bit but it can quickly turn to frustration.
I love slow mornings, they can be amazing at the weekend but when we have a week or two week off school, this slow routine does not work for us everyday. Suddenly there would be arguments because one child wanted to stay home in their pyjamas and the other wanted to go out and do something. I wouldn't be able to get any work done because they were restless and wanted my attention. Then when it came time to go back to school, they would be so resistant to getting up in the morning or even going to bed at a decent time. There were many mood swings and tantrums and everyone was struggling with this change of routine, and the going back to the normal routine.
How Lockdown turned this around
It was actually lockdown that helped us get out of this rut when it came to school holidays. Being almost forced to stay home, no school, no fun days out (in the sense of going to the cinema or swimming etc), really made me consider what the best way to make this work for everyone.
I no longer had to worry about comparisons or what I 'should' be doing, the main thing was keeping us safe and the kids happy.
In this time we learnt:
Why do we find change of routine so hard?
I get decision making fatigue, where making another decision is just so much effort. This can be deciding what to do for dinner, deciding what to do for the day or even just choosing between folding the washing now or later. It is amazing how many little decisions we have to make each day as parents.
Sometimes routines are our comfort zones, we know what to expect and when to expect it. This can have a calming effect on our nervous systems and our minds. It takes away the decision making element because we know that we are doing it. We don't need to decide whether to brush our teeth or not, we just do it. This is actually something I learned in a book by Dana K. White called 'How to Mange your home without losing your mind'. In this book Dana K. White wrote about 'just doing the damn dishes'. This is something I hear in my head every time I think about leaving the sink full of dishes. Just do them. I don't know why it helps but not having to make the decision at the end of a long day, and just having it as part of my routine, actually helps!
I think children feel this decision making fatigue a bit too. Usually the day is mapped out to an extent, but with nothing in place and so much they could do, they have no idea what to choose to do! They start getting stressed, dysregulated and don't know what to expect next.
Boredom vs planned
So should we plan out the holidays in its entirety? No. I think routines and plans are great but I also feel there is such value in letting kids be bored. How many great adventures have been created with a cardboard box because of a bored kids imagination? Imagination can thrive when we let our kid be bored away from screens. Ours too!
I don't think you need to plan out your day in a strict schedule to represent the normal school week. I think there can be real joy in slowing down and being bored sometimes and having pyjama days but it has to be intentional. There are ways you can spend the day slowing down that isn't just hoping the kids will think of something to do. I will talk about a few ways we find helpful in a moment.
Living in the 'shoulds'
If you need a day to slow down, not get dressed and just take it easy - own that. Don't spend the whole day thinking I should do this and I should do that, and the kids should be doing this....etc etc
If you live in the 'shoulds'........it's not going to be a restful day. It's going to feel like a day of procrastination and stress. It will feel like you've done nothing but also like you haven't rested.
How can Yoga help with change of routines?
Change of routines can be stressful for the whole family. If we take time to check in with how we are doing and also take time to nurture our nervous system and bring some peace and balance into the body, it can help us in times of stress. We can take intentional time for ourselves, or to be together through Family Yoga.
Yoga can also be a great part of both morning and evening routines. This can be a constant, something that doesn't change because of the holidays. It can be part of your bedtime routines during the school week and on the school break. And I'm not talking about an hour or even half hour. It could be as little as 5 minutes. Having this time with your family can really help in times of stress but also to help build resilience to stress. Having these routines to wake up to and end the day with will help you and your child to navigate whatever the day throws at you.
When is the last time you stopped and took a breath with your child?
If it was recently, think about how that felt. If it has been a while, try it out next time you are putting them to bed. Hold hands, hug or just sit facing each other and just take 3 slow breaths. Try it again, the next night and the next night. It can be this easy to add a little mindfulness into your bedtime.
If you have ever been to my Yoga classes or followed me on social media, you will know that I love working with themes! Themes can be a great way to get imaginative with your time together. Pick a theme for each day or even the week and see what fun you can have based around that theme. You may already have your own such as movie nights on a friday or taco tuesday - those definitely count as a theme!
Here are a few examples:
Mindful Monday - This serves as a great reminder to add some mindfulness into your day and is a great way to start the week.
Kind Tuesday - How can you add more kindness into your day today?
Space Wednesday - Learn about space together, practice space themed Yoga, and make those cool space Angel Delight desserts - yum!
Thurs-Play - A day full of play! This could be playing board games, yoga games, and even adding play into everyday activities like having dinner. You could set up your very own restaurant at home.
Dress up Friday - Can you be superheroes today or maybe a Prince or Princess? Maybe you create your own fun costume? Or let the kids choose your outfit and you have to wear it all day, even if you're going out ;)
What ever your theme you could include games, yoga practices, mindful activities, arts and crafts, walks outside or a day out that ties into the theme (maybe a to a museum or park). You don't have to stick to the theme all day of course it just might inspire some fun ideas from you and the children.
Having themes can help with the structure of your day but still keep some spontaneity. Including Yoga can help with having fun together while calming the nervous system, and including mindfulness can help you all to stay present and check in with how you are each doing emotionally.
Talking of themes!
Something fun is on it's way!!
I will be sharing more details next week!
In this post we have looked at why the holidays can be stressful for the family and looked at some ways we can bring some calm, balance and fun to our days. Quality time together doesn't have to mean spending loads of money, all you need is a bit of imagination and most importantly connection.
What is your biggest struggle when it comes to changes of routine during school breaks?
All Breath Work Children's Yoga And Mindfulness Christmas Emotional Well Being Emotional Well-being Intuition Meditations Parents Play Pose Of The Week Print Outs Self Care Challenge Summer Teachers Teenagers