Yoga and Mindfulness for children and Teens.
Letting go of ego
You may have had this in your classes as a kids yoga teacher or in any other class. The child is unresponsive and doesn't seem to what to take part in anything you have planned. Sometimes it is about changing our approach to teaching. Maybe they learn better through other methods or maybe they just aren't giving your approach any attention regardless. In this case we have to let go of ego, let go of expectations and just be there. Show that child that when they are ready, you are there. Keep the invite open and ask them now and again if they are ready.
How to Include and Unengaged Child
It is not a rule that everyone has to join in. Sometimes even as adults we just don't feel like it. When a child is new to a group, it may be their first group class out of school or just their first yoga class, they may not be sure if they want to join in. They may have anxiety around it or their maybe something else holding them back.
So how can we include a child that doesn't want to join in with the group?
A way I like to keep these kids engaged is to give them a very important job. A job they can do from the sidelines. I give them their own special yoga mat and assign them their role. These may include my special owl watcher. This owl perches on their mat and peeks out from his owl eyes (often using hands in a binocular shape) and just watches to make sure everything is going okay. If the owl feels we are too noisy he can give us a hoot. This allows the child to feel part of the group without expectations of leaving their comfort zone too much. Also if they choose to give a hooting noise, it is a great sign that they are slowly feeling more safe to get involved in the group. Observing the class allows the child to see that it is a fun, safe, supportive space to be in and actually it might not be the worse thing to join in.
Another role I may give someone is as the Volume controller. The volume controller sits on the sidelines and has a magic switch, when they dial it up we can go louder and when they dial it down we go quieter. This is seen as a great game for all but also allows this child to observe what's going on and have a little bit of control over it which can be very empowering for a shy or nervous child.
These are just two ways in which I aim to include someone who is not ready to join the circle. Then at the end I often move the circle to them so we can all end the class together. This lets them know that they were an equal part of our class and we saw and appreciated them. It is amazing how quickly they then come around to joining the circle and week by week become more and more comfortable with those around them and the structure of the class.
If these ideas don't work. We just keep showing up. We let them know that we are not giving up on them and they are important.
"And if those children are unresponsive, maybe you can't teach them yet. But you can love them today, maybe you can teach them tomorrow" - Jeffrey R.Holland.
What ideas do you practice when you have a child that doesn't want to engage in the class? Please share your ideas in the comments or head to our brand new forum full of class ideas, themes and general support and inspiration!