4 years old

Nurturing Children's Minds


Wow, I've had one of those 'a-ha' moments today and I am just exploding with this information and need to share it.  I went to a workshop at the kids' school this morning about Growing Healthy Minds and it just made me realise how important it is to work on helping them to manage their big emotions now, so that they have all of these tools that they can use throughout their lives to help them to succeed.  Here's a few things that they covered and some ways that we already use them or that we're planning on using them in the future.  (Don't worry if meditation and yoga aren't for you, keep reading because Growth Mindset might really be the thing that clicks!)

Photo by Wayne Robinson on Unsplash

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Meditation, Mindfulness and Guided Visualisations

They had these lovely Tibetan bells that they used to help the children to focus on their breathing.  To listen to the bells and when they stop hearing the sound then they take deep breaths and pay attention to their bodies, bringing their minds back to their breathing if their minds wandered.  It's great for calming down after a busy time, like play time.  Children need some down time to calm their minds from the frenzy around them, just like we do.

We also did a guided visualisation from the book Relax Kids - Pants of Peace.  We did the Bags of Kindness visualisation and I could really see how it would be helpful for children.  When I was a teacher I had a few CDs with guided visualisations that I would put on for the class, I really liked the Relax Kids Fantastic Fairytales Meditation CD and the Calm for Kids Enchanted Meditations for Kids CD.


I was happy to hear that they recommended doing some Cosmic Kids on YouTube as we are already big fans.  We were lucky enough to go to take part in a Cosmic Kids Live session a couple of years ago, you may just be able to spot Ethan in this video.

We also love doing a bit of our own yoga at home using books, yoga cards and having a yoga poster up in the kids' bedrooms.  I did a course with Calm for Kids when I was a teacher and loved using these Yoga Pretzels cards, the book Yoga Kids by Fearne Cotton and this great ABCs of Yoga poster which I now use at home as well.

Calming Techniques

The teacher this morning used a calm down jar to demonstrate how the brain gets flooded with emotions and can’t function, so needs to calm.  It reminded me that we haven't actually made any calm down jars or sensory bottles in ages and they are such a good resource for children to focus on when they are feeling overwhelmed.  (Our very first sensory bottles when Ethan was a baby were quite simple, but I then experimented with some slow moving calm down bottles for Easter a few years later.)

They also recommended the Calm Kids book which is full of calming ideas for children.  As well as a meditation candle video like this one from Cosmic Kids:

Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset is the concept that blew my mind a little bit this morning, as it just makes so much sense and I have no idea how I had never heard of it before.  It was developed by Dr Carol Dweck and is basically all about how we cope with challenges.  If we have a growth mindset and enjoy the challenge and learn from it, or if we have a fixed mindset and challenges intimidate us because we think we can't do it.  We watched this introduction video which made it really clear:

It's all about praising the process and effort (not talent or intelligence), not worrying about making mistakes because the brain is a muscle and making mistakes makes it stronger.  It's also remembering to use the word yet 'I’m not very good at _____ yet!'

This couldn't have come at a better time for us as I have been talking to Ethan a lot about this recently.  He is a bit of a perfectionist and always likes to get things right, getting discouraged when he makes mistakes.  I've been emphasising the importance of working hard and not giving up, but I'm hopeful that the Growth Mindset principles will help me to really encourage him further.

There are also some great videos aimed at children from Class Dojo that make it more accessible at their level.

I have just ordered the Growth Mindset book by Dr Carol Dweck to learn more about it and bring it more into the activities that we do at home.

It also reminded me of a TED video that I once saw about grit, which I managed to find again (and it also inspired me to order the book by the speaker, Grit by Angela Duckworth.)

The Learning Pit

Another concept that they covered this morning was The Learning Pit developed by James Nottingham (he has a book called The Learning Challenge) . It emphasises that the hardest part is taking that first jump off the cliff into the pit, things will get difficult and you may hit a brick wall but once you push through it you get that eureka moment and succeed.  We watched this video which really showed the importance of not giving up and being resilient: 


Finally we ended on a positive note, and they mentioned something that we are actually doing already (I thought that I had invented it!)  Each night at bedtime I ask the children to to tell me three happy things about their days.  This way we end on a positive thought, I get to hear more about the fun that they're having and it has helped with sleep issues as well (less anxious thoughts keeping them awake or causing bad dreams.)

Our mornings are always very hectic and busy (brush your teeth!  put on your shoes!) but we do try to start the days with some positivity too.  Often while we're putting on our coats and shoes and just getting ready to leave I'll play the song Get Back Up Again from the Trolls Soundtrack to give us a little boost and start thinking about how strong we are and that we can get through anything today.  It's our special morning song and it always puts everyone in a good mood!

I am feeling really inspired from all of this today and hoping to put it all into action with our family straight away.  Please let me know if you do any of this already in your families and how it has impacted your lives.

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