Learning About the Beloved Holidays around the World

Children Celebrating Around the World by Jennifer Miller

We may feel closer than ever to the neighbors of our world. COVID-19 shows us, among other key lessons, that we are deeply and biologically connected to one another. Our children and teens may be socializing more online with friends in other countries who may share interests that children in their own neighborhood do not. As we homeschool this year, we are learning about countries, cultures, and history to increase our family’s understanding of the unique gifts each culture brings to the expression of being human. One of the most beautiful and illustrative ways to do that is to learn about another culture through their celebrations and rituals.

Because of the numerous holidays celebrated through the fall and winter months, it is an ideal time to discuss how people celebrate around the world – both the uniqueness of traditions and also the many commonalities. I was struck by the number of similar themes and symbols when I did the research for the following world holiday facts. Most notably, the major holidays celebrate light in the darkness, show gratitude for food, family and life and pause for reflection or prayer. I was so enriched by learning about the beautiful traditions of celebrations around the world. I hope you will take a moment to share these with your family. Happy holidays!

Christmas
Cultural or Religious Origin: Christianity and Secular
Purpose: To celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, believed by Christians to be the son of God. For the non-religious, the purpose is to give gifts, receive gifts from Santa Claus and celebrate with loved ones.
Symbols/Practices: Santa Claus who was originally named after St. Nicolas, a bishop in Turkey, who was a giver of gifts to children. The evergreen tree was originally a German tradition. The star is the guiding light that led to the animal manger where the baby was born.
Traditions: Presents are delivered in secret by Santa Claus on Christmas Eve while families are sleeping. Families and friends exchange gifts.
http://www.history.com/topics/christmas

Hanukkah
Cultural or Religious Origin: Judaism
Purpose: To celebrate a miracle that one day’s worth of oil lasted for eight days in the temple.
Symbols/Practices: For eight days, Jews light a special candleholder called a menorah.
Traditions: On Hanukkah, many Jews also eat special potato pancakes called latkes, sing songs, and spin a top called a dreidel to win chocolate coins, nuts or raisins. Families also give one gift each of the eight days.
http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday7.htm

Kwanzaa
Cultural or Religious Origin: African-American
Purpose: Started in the United States to celebrate African heritage for seven days based on African harvest festivals and focused on seven African principles including family life and unity. The name means “first fruits” in Swahili.
Symbols/Practices: Participants wear ceremonial clothing and decorate with fruits and vegetables.
Traditions: They light a candleholder called a kinara and exchange gifts.
http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/kwanzaa-history

Chinese New Year
Cultural or Religious Origin: China
Purpose: Celebrate the new year.
Symbols/Practices: Silk dragon in a grand parade is a symbol of strength. According to legend, the dragon hibernates most of the year, so people throw firecrackers to keep the dragon awake. Each new year is symbolized by a Zodiacal animal that predicts the characteristics of that year. 2016 will be the year of the monkey.
Traditions: Many Chinese children dress in new clothes. People carry lanterns and join in a huge parade led by a silk dragon. People take time off of work for seven days and celebrate the feast with family.
http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/chinese-new-year

Diwali
Cultural or Religious Origins: Hindu, India
Purpose: The festival of lights honors Lakshmi, India’s goddess of prosperity. It celebrates the inner light that protects all from spiritual darkness.
Symbols/Practices: Millions of lighted clay saucers with oil and a cotton wick are placed near houses and along roads at night.
Traditions: Women float these saucers in the sacred Ganges River, hoping the saucers will reach the other side still lit. Farmers dress up their cows with decorations and treat them with respect. The farmers show their thanks to the cows for helping the farmers earn a living.
http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/diwali/

La Posada
Cultural or Religious Origins: Mexico and parts of Central America, Christian
Purpose: Reenacts the journey Joseph and Mary took to find shelter to give birth to their son, Jesus. It is a festival of acceptance asking, “Who will receive the child?”
Symbols/Practices: Candle light, song, prayer, actors dressing as Mary and Joseph
Traditions: People celebrate through song and prayer doing musical re-enactments of the journey. In Mexico and many parts of Central America, people celebrate La Posada in church during the nine days before Christmas. It is a reenactment of the journey Joseph and Mary took to find shelter before the birth of their child, Jesus
http://gomexico.about.com/od/festivalsholidays/a/posadas.htm

Boxing Day
Cultural or Religious Origins: United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Holland
Purpose: To share gratitude and give to the poor.
Symbols/Practices: Alms boxes were placed in churches to collect donations for the poor.
Traditions: Servants were given the day off as a holiday. Charitable works are performed. And now major sporting events take place.
http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/boxingday.shtml

Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr
Cultural or Religious Origin: Islam, Muslim
Purpose: An entire month is spent re-focusing on Allah (God) and participating in self-sacrifice to cleanse the spirit.
Symbols/Practices: The crescent moon and a star are shown to indicate a month of crescent moons in the night sky. Participants pray daily in mosques. On Eid al-Fitr, they break the fast by dressing in their finest clothing, decorating homes with lights and decorations and giving treats to kids.
Traditions: Not only do celebrants abstain from food, drink, smoke, sexual activity and immoral behavior during the days of Ramadan, they also work to purify their lives by forgiving others and behaving and thinking in positive, ethical ways. They break their fast each day by eating with family and friends after sunset. Breaking the fast on Eid al-Fitr involves making contributions to the poor and gratefulness.
http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/ramadan

Omisoka
Cultural or Religious Origin: Japan
Purpose: This is the Japanese New Year.
Symbols/Practices: Thoroughly cleaning house to purify it.
Traditions: People remove any clutter and clean their homes to purify them for the new year. They have a giant feast with traditional foods. There’s a national talent competition. Bells ring at midnight and people go to pray at Shinto shrines.
http://www.kidzworld.com/article/26414-omisoka-japanese-new-year

St. Lucia Day
Cultural or Religious Origin: Sweden
Purpose: To honor a third-century saint who was known as a “bearer of light” through dark Swedish winters.
Symbols/Practices: With a wreath of burning candles worn on their heads, girls dress as Lucia brides in long white gowns with red sashes.
Traditions: The Lucia brides wake up their families by singing songs and bringing them coffee and twisted saffron buns called “Lucia cats.”
https://sweden.se/culture-traditions/lucia/

Gratitude Prompts…

Check out these conversation starters to inspire your family’s grateful thinking…

Though our family writes down our grateful thoughts every year in the month of November, this year our thoughts are overflowing. We used to forget or get too busy and skip over days. But this year, we are home every day homeschooling. And we’ve written down grateful reflections as a daily ritual to begin our day. Instead of simply asking, “what are you feeling grateful for?”, we’ve used specific prompts to help us think more deeply and broadly.

Many are feeling sad as we move toward a holiday that is likely not going to involve the large gatherings of family or friends we may be accustomed to in past years. For that reason, you or your family members may be more focused on what they are lacking or missing this holiday. Because of this focus, it becomes even more important to reflect on what’s good in your life.

I’m reminded of the quote that inspires me each time I read it: “Everything can be taken from a (hu)man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way,” written by Victor Frankl, Holocaust survivor and author of “Man’s Search for Meaning.”

If you need a little help this holiday season, here are some prompts to get the grateful thinking flowing through your Thanksgiving celebration, no matter how small.

What animals are you grateful for?

What are you grateful for in the natural world?

What place or space are you grateful for in your home?

What basic needs are you grateful are met?

What family members do you feel particularly grateful for?

What friends do you feel particularly grateful for?

What neighbors or community members are you grateful for?

What organizations are your grateful for?

What experiences this Fall are you grateful for?

What opportunities has the pandemic created you are grateful for?

What activities that nourish or refuel you are you grateful for?

What close relationship are you grateful for?

Whose life example are you grateful for?

Hope you’ll use these or come up with your own. We are healthier and less stressed when we can focus on what’s good in our lives. Wishing you a gratitude-filled Thanksgiving!

A Very Special Mindful Monday

Mike Wilson, podcast host of “Making After School Cool” with the Harris County Department of Education joins again for another rich discussion. And we had another special guest, long-time friend and contributor to Confident Parents, Confident Kids, Tikeetha Thomas who authors the blog, “A Thomas Point of View” on parenting and other aspects of her life. There was much to be grateful for as we discussed what gratitude looks like in each of our families. We also offer Tikeetha our very best thoughts for healing as she, her son and her mother deal with COVID. Check out today’s very special Mindful Monday. Wishing you and your family a safe, healthy and happy Thanksgiving!

Will You Help?

We’d like to hear from you! Help us learn from you and also appreciate you. Please share with the Confident Parents’ community what is helping get you through this challenging time? You might respond to the questions:

  1. What small habits have you created for yourself during this time to strengthen you?
  2. What small habits have you created with your children during this time to help them deal with tough times?
  3. What small habits have you created with your whole family?

In addition, we are putting together a slide show of family pictures to appreciate and show the diverse range of individuals who read and contribute to this dialogue. So please share a recent family photo! You can send it to Jennifer at confidentparentsconfidentkids@gmail.com.

Now more than ever, it’s critical that we feel supported in our parenting and that we connect with and learn from one another! This online dialogue is intended to be a part of your village. Our hope is that it can be a vehicle for that kind of support. So I hope you’ll take a moment to jot down your responses to the question below.

Thank you so much in advance for contributing to this conversation!

Mindful Monday Today

Don’t miss today’s Mindful Monday in which Mike Wilson, podcast host of “Making After School Cool” and Outreach Coordinator for the Harris County Department of Education in Houston, Texas and I focus on out-of-school time enrichment activities for children and teens. We discuss how those programs have and continue to change and meet the needs of children. If you are a parent who is interested in getting your child involved in out-of-school enrichment but don’t know where to begin, Mike recommends learning more from your local United Way, YMCA/YWCAs, Boys and Girls Club, and libraries. Mike says they are all analyzing the CDC guidelines and looking for ways to keep children safe, curious, engaged and active through creative means utilizing Zoom but not keeping them on screens for long periods of time. Also, check out the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) resources on out of school time.

As always, we learn from this week’s Native American animal spirit guide, say our Global Pledge of Allegiance, and set a social and emotional goal for the week. Hope you’ll watch and participate with your own family!

One Year of CPCK — Now Online Classes

New Online Course for Schools to Support Families

Confident Parents, Confident Kids, the book is one year old this week! Check out some of the photos below from the launch. And sending much gratitude to the many partners, collaborators, friends and family that made it possible.

Now, schools and districts committed to social and emotional learning are able to support parents’ growing knowledge and ability to support their children’s social and emotional learning through small cohort online classes. Strengthen parenting resilience by offering learning supports to parents and caregivers in your school community! Gather a caring learning community of parents together for five sessions designed to help families not only survive but thrive in tough times. If you are a school or district that values and embraces social and emotional learning, this is a chance to build on that commitment and create a shared language and understanding between the school and participating families.

A research-based framework from the Center for the Study of Social Policy offers four essential conditions for parenting strength and resilience.1 They are:

  1. Social connections and support;
  2. Knowledge of parenting and child development;
  3. Social and emotional competence of children; and
  4. Ability to ask for and accept help.

This online course commits to cultivating all four of these essentials.

Purpose:

This online course will:

– cultivate trust, safety, caring, inclusivity, and support among learning community members.

– offer authentic dialogue and interactive problem-solving so that each family’s unique culture can enter the conversation and serve as an essential lens through which learning occurs.

– deepen participants knowledge of their child’s social and emotional development at their respective ages and stages.

– deepen participants knowledge of social and emotional learning principles, strategies and practices to apply to even the thorniest parenting challenges.

– learn new strategies in parenting based on research-backed principles that offer ways in which to build social and emotional skills in participants’ children and in themselves. One core principle throughout the course will be that there is no one right way but many ways we can be responsive to what we know through the research can support our children and teens.

About the Structure:

Each two-hour session will be interactive and reflective. Parents or other caregivers will learn from one another as well as author Jennifer Miller. Parents will be offered specific tools including checklists and planning guides (through a follow up email with attachments after each session) to try out new ideas and practices with plenty of support. In between sessions, parents will be challenged to try out new strategies with their children and return to reflect on what worked and how they might improve. 

While remote learning offers benefits to parents connecting further with their children’s curriculum, the always-together environment can create added stress and tension. Parents may find they are losing their temper more easily. This course will help parents extend their patience, gain empathy and feel a greater sense of competence with strategies that work.

Classes can be offered live and also, recorded so that caregivers who cannot make a particular time can watch on their own schedule and connect with Jennifer with questions, ideas and challenges at their convenience. Now taking reservations (limited space!) for the winter and spring of 2021.

For more information, email Jennifer Miller at confidentparentsconfidentkids@gmail.com.

And happy one year birthday to the book, Confident Parents, Confident Kids, on sale now at a discounted rate! Readers are saying:

I’m a father of two. A eight year old son and six year old daughter. Too often I find myself losing patience with my little ones and knew there had to be a better way than what I was doing. Well that brought me to this book. I loved this. I’m not one for parenting books but this one was fact based, and actionable. I took pages of notes, and am already applying this to our little household. This is a wonderful book.

– Almost Mike

“…I finally feel like I have a better grip on “handling” my daughter, if that makes sense. I also believe she now knows that I am here for her, and I do want to hear what she has to say and what she is experiencing. I will be able to carry these “tools and tips” onto my son as he gets older!

– V. Anderson

If you are serious about parenting, you probably read lots of books. This is one that is worth adding to your list to help you develop good, but immeasurable emotional maturity in your children.

– E. Burton

I’m a neuroscience/psychology geek, so a lot of the ideas in this book were familiar to me. But I like the way they were presented (very readable and accessible) and I like the way the book gave specific examples and approaches to implement them”

-C.M. and T.M.

What I like most about this book is that the title delivers on its promise. I am a much more confident parent of a tween after having read this book.I’ve implemented many of the suggestions in this book. I am grateful to Jennifer Miller for writing it.

-Kindle Reader

Check out these images from last year. Grateful to these friends, collaborators and supporters and many more who have spread the message about parenting with intentional social and emotional learning.

Watch Today’s Mindful Monday

Today, Mike Wilson, podcast host of “Making After School Cool” and Outreach Coordinator for the Harris County Department of Education in Houston, Texas and I discuss the challenges of 2020 including the pandemic and it’s impact on education and our children and the killing of George Floyd and other black Americans. We also focus on what happens in our families or in our neighborhoods when we disagree and how we can continue to show care and empathy while speaking of hot issues. We have a new animal spirit guide this week from the Native American animal totem tradition. And we set some important social and emotional goals for the week. Check it out or better yet use it to start your learning day with your family!

Navigating the COVID Storm — Together

Understanding Group Dynamics to Improve Your Family’s Collaboration and Resilience

By Guest Authors Julea Douglass, Ph.D. and R. Keeth Matheny

Think back to a memorable team experience. It might have been a sports team or a project at work. Every team has its own unique group dynamics

In basketball for instance, each player and the coach are essential to reaching the team goal: scoring points, defending the basket, and ultimately winning the game. Also like basketball, each game is different. New opponents bring new challenges. Teams have to prep for their next game, play to their strengths, and prepare for opposition and opportunities. 

Family Group Dynamics 

Did you realize every family has its own group dynamics? Like sports teams, each family member plays an important, but different, role in contributing to the group dynamic. And those roles change and evolve over time. 

Your role as the parent is different when your children are toddlers than when they are teenagers. And will be different again when they leave home for college and/or a job. If you have multiple kids and/or a spouse, each family member is constantly contributing to evolving roles within the family dynamic. 

During COVID-19 Times

Now imagine you are on a sailboat in the ocean with you and your family members. There is not a boat captain—just you and your family—and you’ve never been on a sailboat before! You’ve seen sailboats on TV, but you’ve never tried to steer one before. This is definitely uncharted territory. COVID-19 effects are a similar kind of curveball, an unexpected twist that requires new skills and strategies.

With mounting concerns about COVID-19 consequences, pressures have been building up worldwide and likely within your family group dynamic. Sharing space, computers, TV, food, and all day and evening can take its toll. You need new skills to navigate this new terrain, and you’ll need to work effectively with your family to weather this storm. 

Tuckman’s Team Development Model

Luckily, there are decades of research in effective team strategies. Your sailboat comes with a guide. Tuckman’s Team Development Model gives insight for your family about what you need to steer your boat and navigate the course ahead. 

The first step to success is a map of where you’ve been and where you’re going. You’ll need this “bird’s eye” view to prepare for your journey (Tuckman’s Team Development Model below).

All teams go through the first two phases of Tuckman’s Team Development Model: 1) forming and 2) storming. Unfortunately, some teams get stuck in “storming” and never make it successfully to 3) norming and 4) performing.  

For your family sailboat to navigate this storm successfully, you are going to need all four phases:

1) Forming: In the first days of a new team or situation, each member is trying to find his or her role within the group and looking to the coach for leadership and teammates for reassurance. 

2) Storming: Inevitably, team members can struggle to feel valued, included, and confident in a new setting. Some members might jockey for the best spots, while others withdraw and underestimate themselves. 

 3) Norming: Here’s where teams can turn it around if they thoughtfully plan how they will treat each other and how they will work together to reach their goal. Without proactive plans, they will fail to get to the next stage.

4) Performing: Together, the team maximizes their abilities and collaborates to reach a shared goal. They are conscious of each other’s needs and all do their best to contribute. They are better together than any of them are on their own. 

Though your family is not a “new team,” you are in a new circumstance (COVID-19) that requires starting at stage 1 (forming) and then very purposefully going through stage 3 (norming) to get to the goal of performing well and creating an environment in which everyone feels supported and valued.

Family Discussion Questions: 

  • Which stage of Tuckman’s Team Development do you think your family is in? And why?
  • What might lead to “storming” in your family dynamic? What are potential unmet needs for you and/or your family members?
  • How have you or could you do to agree on family norms for a) how to treat each other, b) how to share time and space during COVID, and c) how to resolve disagreements?

Family Activity:

  • Try School-Connect’s free EQ @ Home or School lessons. Each lesson includes family discussion questions and activities (school-connect.net/digital-solution-sample).

About the Authors: Julea Douglass, Ph.D. & R. Keeth Matheny

Julea Douglass, Ph.D. is co-founder and co-author of School-Connect: Optimizing the High School Experience, a social emotional learning (SEL) curriculum for grades 6–12 (www.school-connect.net).

R. Keeth Matheny is a 20-year teacher, co-author of School-Connect, and founder of SEL Launchpad, a SEL professional development firm that trains and inspires educators nationwide (www.sellaunchpad.com).

About School-Connect: They creates and distributes School-Connect: Optimizing the High School Experience, a research-based middle and high school program for boosting students’ social, emotional and academic skills. They speak nationally on the importance of school connectedness to adolescents’ personal growth and engagement in learning. Learn more!

*CPCK Note: We are so grateful to Julea and Ruldoph Keeth as well as the School-Connect organization for your partnership and collaboration!

Big Worries, Small Steps

How Can Parents Support their Children through Anxiety and Build Strength, Resilience, and Confidence?

As we face so much uncertainty in our lives whether it involves election stress, pandemic worries, job fears, or school difficulties, parents and children alike are feeling the mounting pressure. It’s critical for families to continue their learning about how they can deal with the stress so that it’s managed each small step of the way. Otherwise, we’ll work ourselves up into an explosion of upset that can hurt those we love. Because emotions are contagious, our children and teens will pick up on our anxiousness and feel it themselves.

In addition to the stressors parents and caregivers are feeling, children and teens have their own set of worries that show up as they grow and change. In fact, the Highlights Magazine survey of 2,000 children ages 6-12 simply asked, “do you worry?” And 79% of children responded “yes.”1 Worry is normal and actually increases with our children’s awakening social awareness particularly starting around the age of nine. As they work on empathizing and taking the perspective of others, they also become self-conscious. “What if I’m criticized? What if I’m rejected?” These are common concerns of the pre-teen and teen years. So then the trick becomes, how can children, tweens, and teens learn to manage that worry in healthy, constructive ways so that they can identify their feelings and use them as assets. If they do not learn healthy coping strategies, feelings can take them over and they can begin to turn to unhealthy coping strategies.

So there is a significant opportunity for parents and teachers alike to support them in learning how to manage these big worries. Check out the following ideas along with a few pitfalls to avoid along the way!

Anxiety is contagious! Manage yourself first.

When your child is upset and anxious, the first instinct of a caring parent will be to dive in and fix that problem. But in reality, if you dive in with your own stack of worries, you could (and will likely) escalate your child’s worries. That’s because your own raised heartbeat and furrowed brow can’t hide. Your child and you are deeply connected (in good times and in bad) so that they will “catch” your worry and elevate their own. Tina brewed some tea and sipped on it before she went in to talk with Alyssa. Find ways to pause, breathe, get some fresh air and a fresh perspective (“This is not the end of the world nor will it determine my child’s long term success.”), and then talk to your child.

Normalize big worries.

When you do talk, be sure and let your child know that worrying is a normal part of being human and growing up. Don’t allow him to perpetuate the myth that he’s the only one who’s sure he’s going to be left alone or ridiculed on the playground. Help him identify his feelings – “I see you are feeling really worried about going back to school tomorrow. Tell me more.” Listen to his responses while reserving your own judgment or fears. Also, talk about the roles of stress – that it can be a positive force for keeping you sharp during a test but you have to learn ways to manage it so that you are in control and it doesn’t control you.

Learn together.

Be sure you understand what the worry truly is concerning. So often we make assumptions about our child’s fears only to discover later that she really didn’t care about being invited to the birthday party but merely wanted to play on the playground. Actively listen and reflect back thoughts and feelings before jumping to any conclusions. Be sure that you are open to learning from your child what concerns are there so that you can be most helpful.

Empathize together and choose compassion.

When a child or teen has social anxiety, she is focusing on herself and what others think of her. If she begins to consider how others are experiencing worry or pain, if she considers how she might ease others’ challenges, then she cannot focus on her own. Help her consider: “Amanda said some hurtful words today. What do you think could be going on with her? Is her home life okay? Does she feel accepted at school?” Often these questions uncover hurt that another child is undergoing. You might follow up with, “what could you do or say to help her feel more comfortable and accepted?” These questions shift your child’s focus in a positive, healthy way.

Tackle in the smallest increments. 

When your child is feeling overwhelmed by expectations or the amount of work, sit down together and break it down into the smallest pieces possible. Then, simply just focus on one at a time. How can that one issue be tackled? Then, make a plan or set a positive, specific goal together for how she’ll tackle each one of the other issues. Set a clear timeframe and be there to support her through it.

Practice healthy coping strategies.

On a sunny day when emotions are not running high, grab a blank sheet of paper or markers and newsprint and do the “Feeling Better” challenge (yes, we all love a challenge that is entertaining and game-like). See how many healthy coping strategies you can list together. Remember: the smaller and easier, the better! You want to be able to use them anywhere, anytime you or your child is upset. Practice some deep breathing like ocean wave breathing, or making the sound of the ocean and imaging waves coming in and out with the rhythm of your breath. Discuss other ideas like walking in nature, tensing and releasing toes and fingers, or pretending to blow bubbles.

Stop rumination and find a new thought.

Rumination is worry run-amok. When you hear your child mentioning the same concern over and again, they’ve moved into rumination. And it’s never productive. Why? Because it’s a vicious hamster wheel turning the same thoughts and feelings over and over without any new thoughts changing the perspective. Share that the churning we tend to do does not prevent horrible events from occurring and in fact, only weighs a person down and prevents them from finding positive solutions. When ruminating, tell yourself, “Stop.” And coach your child to help them tell themselves “stop.” Then ask, “what’s one new way you can look at this situation that you haven’t considered?” “What can you learn from this?” Also, if you can, ruminate a bit on the positive. Are there new friends that await at a new experience? Are there kind teachers? Are there interesting exploration opportunities with new subjects? Swirl around in the goodness of all that’s to come this school year.

Create a small experiment.

In other words, if your child is really scared to go on a class overnight field trip, can you set a small goal to go the first night and then call and talk and you’ll come get her the following day if it’s too much but she’ll try and make the best of the first night? Usually kids find that they can make it all the way through but the whole event seems overwhelming so offering small checkpoints or smaller goals helps reduce anxiety. If you set a small goal to tackle a homework challenge, then decide on when and how you’ll take a break or what small piece you’ll accomplish together. Celebrate with a high five or simply reflect on how they were able to get that small piece finished. Recognize together how tackling one step at a time made – what seemed like a monumental task – manageable.

Support Sleep.

Sleep is not only critical for learning the next day but it will also offer the self-control a child needs to get through his anxieties that day. But worries can keep a child up at night. So what can you do? First, be sure and stick to a consistent routine that gets business accomplished (bath, brushing teeth) and is also connecting (reading, snuggling). Make sure that there’s a calm down period with low lighting, low noise, and no screens. Let her know that worrying at night is rumination and will not accomplish anything so it’s important to leave it behind. You might try the following:

  • Have you seen the Mexican worry dolls? You tell the dolls your worries before bedtime, put them in their box, and they work on your worries while you sleep. You can do this with a favorite stuffed friend. Assign him night duty. Allow her to share her worries with you and her stuffed friend (or just with the stuffed friend) and then assign the task of taking care of her worries overnight so that she can put them away. Make sure she only says them once because repeating them turns into rumination and her stewing won’t change her thinking so rumination doesn’t get her anywhere. Teens can write worries down in a journal and then, place the journal in a safe location overnight where they won’t look at it.
  • You may also want to try a guided sleep mediation for children. Check out these from New Horizon. Visualize a calming, happy memory together from your summer vacation. Or you can simply play nature sounds (I like this simple Family Mindfulness App) and listen carefully in the dark together as you take deep breaths.

Instead of fueling one another’s worries, we can channel the energy gained from the mounting pressures into an important opportunity to promote healthy ways to manage stress and reframe perspectives. As we teach our children, we simultaneously help ourselves. Taking positive action allows us to move toward the changes we want to create.

Check out this delightful and practical picture book:

The Worry Box by Suzanne Chiew

Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival

References:

1. C + R Research. (2018). Highlights State of the Kid Report. Honesdale, PA; Highlights for Children.

Need Some Mindfulness This Week? Check out Our Mindful Monday Recording

Today, Mike Wilson, podcast host of “Making After School Cool” of the Harris County Department of Education in Houston, Texas and I discuss the mounting tension and how we deal with it. He introduces his own animal spirit guide that gives him a sense of meaning and important life reminders this week from the Native American animal totem tradition. We do a bit of mindful stretching and breathing with this animal in mind. And we set some important social and emotional goals for the week.

The purpose of each Mindful Monday is to offer a brief set of reflections to help you and your children begin their week with their bodies, hearts, minds and spirits ready for the learning ahead. It can serve as a model you can replicate or watch and follow along together. Either way, wishing you a week of healthy, safety, justice and calm amidst any storms!

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