Friday, September 23, 2016

Overcoming fear in children - A guide for parents

The famous Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, once wrote, "Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most." If you find yourself in this position, quailing on the threshold of something new, take heart, for you are not alone in your fear. Be inspired by the knowledge that others have conquered fears before you. Venture bravely into the unknown.

Dostoyevsky's words are relevant to all age groups but are increasingly even more apt for children.
Fear and anxiety is not uncommon in children especially with the start of a new school year (as mentioned in the article below)

Here are five suggestions for parents to help their child deal with fears and anxieties:

1. Address fear and anxiety - Sometimes children are afraid of situations or objects that adults don't find threatening. Encourage your child to face his or her fears and not run away from it. They need to be reminded that, "What you resist, persists." Instead of resisting the problem, acknowledge it's presence and label the fear. If a fear can't be articulated, it can't be conquered. 

2. Analyze the fear - Help your child to identify the trigger or cue for a fear and action that feeds to the fear. Where does it come from? Is it triggered by a specific object/ situation? Additionally, help your child recognize his or her body symptoms and help the child understand the connection between mind and body. Very often, analyzing the fear may loosen it's grip on your child.

3. Don't cater to the fear - Help your child by taking their fears seriously and by encouraging him or her to talk about his or her feelings. But do not cater to their fears lest they will be reinforced. 

4 Empower children with coping mechanisms - Brain storm with your child to see what calms him or her. Try out various methods to cope such as deep breathing, guided imagery, visualization meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, a silent walk to introspect. Train your child in positive self talk so that he or she feels empowered to take control of the situations life brings along.

5. Build self confidence and esteem. - Do not solve the problem for your child. Instead, validate your child's emotions, understand and empathize with your child's experience and help your child to problem solve. Encourage your child to act in spite of the fear and take it as a challenge for personal growth. All along this journey, remind your child that you've got his or back and be your child's biggest cheerleader. 

The key is to help your child face his or hear fears. As Robin Sharma said, "The fears we don't face become our limits." Let's aim for a limitless world for our children.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Introducing Meditation to Children

“If every 8 year old is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from this world within one generation.”
- Dalai Lama

Children are natural meditators. It is often easier for them to connect to their original state of peace, love and happiness. But it takes practice and time to get into that natural state of positivity and serenity. Continue with small steps because eventually these small steps, on a regular basis, will lead to enormous results i.e a child who is emotionally and mentally healthy, happy and calm.

Here are a few tips: 

Create a quiet place just for meditation

This can be a room if you have a spare room or a corner in your bedroom or lounge room. You might like to decorate this space with some calming pictures, some of your favorite books, plants, and a special chair or cushion or a bean bag to sit on. Keep this space just for meditation. However, this should not stop you from meditating in a natural setting, such as a beach or a bench in the park.

Start out small

Children are usually able to sit for as many minutes as their age e.g., ten minutes for a ten-year-old. However, you can begin with a shorter session - It is ok to even meditate just for two minutes. Sometimes baby steps work best as small goals are more achievable. Eventually, the hope is to make it a life long habit.

Create a routine

Make it a morning habit or a bedtime routine, or both. The morning, is usually the best time to meditate as it sets the tone for the day. As you start your day, so you live your day. Some prefer to relate it to another established daily activity such as brushing your teeth or going to bed. This way meditation gets easily integrated into your routine.

Communicate and encourage

Talk with your children about the way they feel after meditating. Encourage and applaud the changes they notice or point out changes that you notice in their behavior that they might be unaware of. Praising a child for positive behavior will increase the occurrence of such behavior.

Model the behavior

Meditate with your child. This is clearly the most important tip. Often we see that an athlete’s child is good at sports, or that a musician’s child enjoys playing instruments. Yes, genes matter, but what matters more is what the child observes in his house. Children learn by imitating adults. If you are new to meditation, experiment with guided, silent, or mantra meditations. Children love nature so perhaps a few minutes of mindfully listening to “nature music” might work well.

Practice makes progress

Just like any other activity, Meditation gets better with practice. Just like losing 20 pounds requires discipline and persistent effort in the gym, meditation is a workout for the mind, which requires persistency. Each time you sit to practice, it’s a small success, and you are strengthening those neural pathways in your brain. But consistency is more important than intensity. Five minutes of daily meditation is more important than thirty minutes of meditation once a week. So go ahead, start meditating!