No question about it, we are living in challenging times. Several months into a quarantine version of family life, it is not just the adults who are feeling a little “off.” Staying positive when things are perfect is easy. Staying positive when things are challenging takes a lot of intention and practice, something the kids could use some support with.
I am passionate about teaching positive life skills to kids from a young age, which is why I recently wrote my latest album, “Bounce,” with three-time Grammy nominees The Pop Ups. Here are some powerful lessons related to the messages on the album to implement with children at home right now.
1. End each day by asking your children three things they are grateful for. Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness, according to experts from Harvard University medical school. Make this practice part of your daily rituals and it will become a cherished time for everyone.
2. Talk about some challenges your children are facing and brainstorm ideas on how to handle them. From the uncertainty of going back out in public to wearing a mask and participating in Zoom calls, kids are being presented with totally new challenges that can feel scary or intimidating. “Name it to tame it,” says parenting expert and author Dan Siegel. Acknowledge and honor the feelings (don’t try to dismiss or minimize them) and then make a plan. Overcoming adversity is how we all build self-esteem.
3. Sometimes, we just need to stop the unhelpful thoughts and choose different ones. When I notice myself in negative thinking that seems to snowball, I say “Om Shanti” which roughly translates to “My True Nature, Peace.” My kids love this Sanskrit mantra, but you can also come up with your own. You can even make a piece of art with the mantra and put it up on your refrigerator or bulletin board as a reminder.
4. Help your children recognize how emotions feel in their bodies. Kids particularly love talking about how happiness feels. I feel like a rush of liquid sunshine comes up through my chest and into my arms and head. It’s a really fun conversation to have, and the kids will likely start recognizing and savoring those happy moments more each day.
5. More than any other practice right now, the skill of looking for the silver lining and making the best of a situation is so key. And just like any muscle, the more you flex it, the stronger it gets. Get your kids practicing positivity and they’ll be pros in no time.
Suzanne Jamieson is a certified yoga therapist, singer and mother. Her new album, “Bounce,” features 11 songs for families delivered with a joyful retro sound and filled with helpful positive messaging for children that focuses on life skills, happiness tools and lessons on how to thrive. Hear “Bounce” on Spotify. Check out “Bounce” on iTunes.