Are you concerned because of all the stress and anxiety your grandchildren have to deal with? Helping them by showing them some mindfulness techniques might be the answer.
I see it in your posts on Facebook. The world your grandchildren live in is very different from the one we grew up in. I can't imagine having to go through "Armed Intruder Drills" in school. What our grandchildren must think and worry about when they see another mass shooting on the news. That is real anxiety.
And there are other causes of their anxiousness. Dealing with bullies on the school bus, the stress that comes with too much testing in our schools today, trying to cope with over-zealous parents or coaches in children's sports. I know you can add to this list. And there are more, such as children spending way too much time on online games and videos. Studies have shown that that does indeed change their brains and can often make them anxious mainly because of the constant barrage of visual and auditory effects. And finally, some of our grandchildren are just wired differently. They simply tend to be more anxious about things.
But we can help! Grandparents can play a huge role. We can advise them on how we handle stress. We can also show them some tips on how to cope. You can share these ideas with them when they confess to you that they often feel anxious. You can also use these when they are simply having a good old-fashioned meltdown when they are at your house. You don't have to scold them during such times; just give them some real life tips. I've culled various websites and books to make it easier for all of us. And I think these tips can help the little guys having a meltdown all the way to teenagers dealing with the stress of trying out for the honor band.
Here are some things I found to help:
If you've tried any mindfulness or meditation techniques yourself, you know that how you breathe is a big part of that. So that's where you'll want to start with children. In fact, I read that with the really little guys, you'll probably want to show them how to breathe correctly by buying them a bottle of bubbles. That way you can show them if they try to blow a bubble the way the Big Bad Wolf blew to knock the house down, that's too much. They'll end up blowing the bubble liquid all over the place and come out blowing nary a bubble. But if they blow softly, it works--they'll successfully blow a big bubble. This enables them to learn to softly and slowly exhale. So start there with the little guys.
The first breathing technique I ever learned for myself was Dr. Andrew Weil's "4-7-8" breathing technique. I first used it to get to sleep at night, but I heard from a friend that it works anytime when you're nervous or anxious, like before you speak to a large group. I shared it with my teenage grandson when he was nervous about trying out for the honor band. It's also called "The Relaxing Breath" and so it helps at such times.
"Take 5" Breathing~
This technique is about tracing your hand with your index finger. As you go up each finger, inhale. As you trace down an individual finger, exhale. Just demonstrating and doing it with a grandchild will help him learn it right away.
Breathing with "Magnet Hands"~
Tell your grandchild to stand straight and tall with their hands straight out in front of them. As they bring their hands together, they should inhale deeply while imagining a magnet is pulling their hands together, but they are fighting against that pull--don't let your hands touch!! Then when they exhale, they should pull their hands apart and just let them relax at their sides, breathing out very slowly.
I'm sure you've noticed with these breathing techniques, that just concentrating on exactly HOW you're suppose to breathe, gets your mind off your anxiousness. Another way to do this is with GROUNDING.
The "Grounding" technique-
This one I learned from my daughter-in-law and is also based on the number "5" and the five senses. When a child is having what might be called an anxiety attack, they simple stop what they are doing and look around them. They should focus on five things they see, four things they can touch/feel, three things they can hear, two things they smell, and finally one thing they can taste. As you can see, this takes them out of this time of anxiousness and grounds them in the moment--the very definition of mindfulness--existing in the moment.
I've read where many teachers are teaching their students mindfulness techniques. One way I read about is teachers keeping a rainstick in their classroom. When they want their students to get in the moment, they simply turn over the rainstick and ask the students to stop what they're doing and listen......and keep listening until they can hear the very last raindrop. Besides, how relaxing is listening to the rain?
I don't have a rainstick, but I found this old baby toy that I think would work nicely. Besides listening to the "rain," one also has a visual to watch.
Another technique to use with a grandchild who might be having a temper tantrum while at your house is to just give them a pinwheel. They might be able to refocus their attention as they blow on the pinwheel to get it to spin or whirling around the room to move the wheel. Then they can focus on the pinwheel as it slowly stops. This would be really nice with a rainbow-colored wheel, then you could ask them what colors they see and how the colors blend as it's spinning. Any items you might have around your house to get them out of their difficult moment and into a more peaceful state. You're also teaching them how to cope. They are learning what they can do when you're not around. And isn't that what we as parents and grandparents are all about--teaching our kids how to successfully cope in this world?
There you have it! Some tips on how to help your kids dealing with stress, anxiety, and even the real and honest human emotions like sadness or anger. Frankly I use these too, as I'm sure you do. Who hasn't been late to work, sat in a traffic jam, and found your anger rising? Then you remembered the simple technique of counting to ten to calm yourself as well as some deep breathing. As grandparents and role models, we should teach coping skills to our grandkids and great-grandkids.
I'll end with these thoughts:
"Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me," lyrics from the song by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller
"You can't calm the storm...so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass." Buddha's teachings
Retired school teacher and now full time grandmother sharing ideas and looking for new ones about grandparenting!