Human beings are, first and foremost, emotional creatures. Understanding our emotions - how to accept them, how to manage them, how to channel them, how to use them – and understanding others from an emotional standpoint are some of the most important life skills a young person can develop.
What the children say
"My Mum’s a bit depressed and boring ‘cause she never plays." - Jasmine, age 9
"I wish that people would think before they speak" - Breanna, age 11
What we say
From dealing with overwhelming feelings such as anger, loss or loneliness to developing resilience and coping with challenge to the proven benefits of practising mindfulness, we know that developing emotional intelligence in children - and ourselves - is not only possible but vital.
What the research says
Well conducted mindfulness... can improve the mental, emotional, social and physical health and wellbeing of young people (and) can contribute directly to the development of cognitive and performance skills and executive function.
Evidence for the Impact of Mindfulness on Children and Young People, University of Exeter (2012)
Start them thinking
Do you choose your emotions?
Can you ever not think?
Do you control your emotions or do they control you?
Would you rather have no money or no emotions?
Is sadness more contagious than happiness?
Are babies born with their emotions?
Start practising mindfulness with children and with staff.
Have children leading mindfulness and relaxation exercises for parents at the start of the day.
Keep an 'emotions log' for a day/week/month.
Count all the different emotions a class has in one day.
Set up a 'feelings' staff meeting where colleagues can safely express their emotions.
What You've Been Up To So Far:
We posted information onto the nursery Facebook page with ideas to help people understand and practice mindfulness
We introduced daily 'thinking time' in which we spent time focusing on beautiful music, pictures, breathing or imaginative meditative activities
We engaged in mindful mark making- using repetitive movements and sounds of waves to create lines, curves and shapes
We did nature meditations - walking meditation, cloud watching, listening to the sounds of nature, all in a peaceful rural environment.
The nursery owner attended training on mindfulness at a local school, and I attended a workshop by the creator of the 'Thoughtbubbles' programme.