Win a Winner!
Writers & Photographers
Berlitz Summer Camp
by Samantha Kinkaid
As the school year begins and we head into fall, children and adults often experience mixed emotions.
Some children are excited to see their friends and teachers and share tales of their vacation adventures, some are nervous with anticipation of new classes and some are sad that the summer is over.
Parents also enter into a transition in routine and engagement. Perhaps there’s a sense of relief that we can return our focus to work, perhaps a sense of sadness as our children grow older, and maybe there is also a sense of gratitude as we reflect on warm memories with our family and our summer activities.
What serves parents in transitions like these — regardless of the time of year — is the quality of attention we bring to each moment. Called mindfulness, this is the practice of truly being present at home and at work by listening and participating with our children, family and co-workers. It also includes listening to ourselves, what our mind and body are telling us.
Learning to be more mindful, and helping our children learn as well, can improve our overall health and well-being, improve our focus and creativity, boost test scores, yield better sleep, more kindness and empathy, better coping skills and more self awareness.
The next time you sense something is brewing with your child and have ruled out hunger, tiredness or hormones, come to the same level with them and make eye contact. Listen to them. Repeat back what you hear. Encourage them to breathe — consciously — and model it. Breathe together, in and out, three times. Ask them how they feel in their bodies as they breathe.
Creative activities are wonderful ways to explore feelings and self-expression. As a weekend or evening activity, introduce your children to the word map. Take a large piece of paper, colored pencils, markers, crayons, etc. and sit down with your child. Introduce them to the theme – it may be strength or courage or peace or relaxation – and have them write that word in the center of the paper. Then have them draw lines or squiggles out from that word and ask them, “What does that word mean to you? How does that word make you feel?” Ask them to write the answers using the color and writing instrument of their choice. By supporting their exploration in this way, you are helping them develop inner resources that will serve them into adulthood.
As a home exercise for a younger child, ask: “What makes you feel peaceful inside?” Spend a few minutes on the computer and do an image search together. Find peaceful images, such as a place in nature, happy faces or an animal. Print out a few. Or have them clip pictures from a magazine. Be creative. Make a collage book that your child can look at before bedtime. One picture could be in their backpack; you can have one in the car. Don’t be surprised if this exercise has a pleasant ripple effect. And when a reminder is needed, ask, “Do you remember when we looked at those peaceful pictures?” It opens the door to a different kind of conversation and a different way of being.
Samantha Kinkaid is the owner of Yoga Everyone, a new yoga and meditation studio at the Whizin Market Square in Agoura Hills. Her training includes specialization in children and people with post-traumatic stress, insomnia, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, abuse and people in hospice care. She can be reached at Samantha@yogaeveryone.com, or visit www.yogaeveryone.com for more information.
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Great article, we can all learn from it, the family emotions are life emotions. Great read that brings these to the surface. If we all practiced what Samantha wrote we would have a much improved society and culture. Looking forward to the next article.
Laguna Niguel, CA
09/25/2012 - 09:52 pm
These tips will help me with my three kids and also my niece and nephew. Some of these could be great group activities too! I know what I'm doing this weekend. Thank you! Great article!
Marina del Rey, CA
09/25/2012 - 09:35 pm