Friday, 24 June 2022

Introducing Mindfulness To Children

As an anxious person myself, it should probably come as little surprise that my eldest son also has a tendency to worry a lot.

It started when he was around 4 years old with bedtime worries and lots of overthinking, and even now as a 9 year old there are very few weeks that pass by where he doesn't come to me with a "tummy ache" - usually a tell-tale sign that there are things on his mind making him anxious.

As a hypnotherapist in my day job, I work with anxious clients on a regular basis so I'm well versed in managing the problem in adults...but how do you manage anxiety in children?

Well research tells us that actually, anxiety management techniques are not that different for children than they are for adults. Talking and giving people the tools to cope with their feelings is the best way to handle anxiety, so it's really just a case of breaking those things down in a way that makes them accessible to children.

Mindfulness has long been a recommended practice in anxiety management, as it helps to take you out of your mind - which can often be so busy and overactive - and bring you into your body and into the present moment.
 Its all about taking the time to centre yourself, to bring your attention into the here and now. This allows you to escape the fraught overwhelm of an anxious brain, giving yourself that moments peace and calm...allowing the anxious feelings to pass.

I've made a conscious effort over the years to introduce mindfulness to my children, taking them to mindfulness classes and introducing them to kids yoga sessions and's something that all 3 of them really enjoy. So when I was introduced to "Imagine Eating Lemons: A  Childrens Introduction To Mindfulness" by Jason Rhodes and Richard Dearing, I was really excited to give it a try.

The book is beautifully illustrated and uses a simple but engaging story to introduce children to the idea of using mindfulness practice to alleviate anxiety and worries. 

The story follows a character named Chester Chestnut who experiences some anxious moments throughout and learns how to manage his anxieties using simple but incredibly effective mindfulness techniques. As you read the story with your children, you're given the opportunity to learn about what anxious feelings are and where they come from, as well as learning some techniques for managing these feelings yourself. As we read the story, I encouraged the children to practice along with Chester which they really enjoyed doing.

The explanations in the story are so easy for children to understand, and after reading it just once I found my 6 year old son doing his own "mindfulness meditation" as he took deep breaths and worked his way through noticing what his senses were aware of. Brilliant!

The book is aimed at children aged 3-7, although I have to say that my 9 year old also thoroughly enjoyed it and has benefited a lot from using the techniques when his own anxieties have cropped up since.

Written by Jason Rhodes following his own experiences with anxiety, Imagine Eating Lemons manages to be a fun story for children to read whilst also introducing mindfulness in a simple but informative way.

Discussing the book, Jason says: ‘A children’s book, and this book in particular, can help to teach by example. Instead of just telling a child about anxiety and breathing, it is much more powerful to follow the journey of a character and learn through their actions.’

I completely agree! "Imagine Eating Lemons" is a must-have for all parents of young children, and would be a wonderful resource for classrooms too. I only wish it had been around when I was a child.

To find out more or to buy a copy, please click HERE

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