Mindfulness and Meditations

Mindfulness and Meditations

I remember hearing those words from my young child.  “I hate myself!....I am a bad kid!”  Tears were streaming down their face as they recounted another hard day at preschool.  Their peers were overstimulating them with uninvited touching and yelling, while the inexperienced teacher wasn’t sure how to manage the classroom.  My child was so overstimulated and needed a calm, quiet place to recenter.  My child couldn’t yet understand why they had such big feelings and identified big feelings as “bad” feelings.  It wasn’t so much that they hated themself, but more that they hated the way that they felt.  At such a young age separating the feelings from their identity wasn’t something they were able to do, or understand. They weren’t yet able to regulate their emotions by themselves or understand the triggers that led them to be overwhelmed. 

Partnering with the school and the classroom was extremely helpful. I was grateful to the preschool for listening to my concerns and working to address my child’s sensory needs.  I bought a few items for the classroom so that my child had access to sensory items.  However, I also needed to address the feelings of being “bad” with my child.  Somehow I had to get my child to begin to internalize the special and amazing person that they are. Somehow I needed to give my child a daily reminder that they are special and loved.  

We started with a change in our nightly routine.  We began to talk about the good things that happened in the day and I would also try and make my child laugh about something.  Sometimes this led to a real opening up, while other times the conversation just flowed into storytime.  I began to change the books we were reading and found a few mindfulness books to be really helpful including The Lemonade Hurricane and Peaceful Piggy Meditation.  These were great…and I needed something more.  I needed something that could be done independently as my child was not yet a reader.

I found a Zenimal. There is a soothing meditation that my child could listen to.  It goes over breathing practices and self-affirmations. This became part of our nightly routine as they learned how to soothe themselves in overwhelming environments. 

At first, we would listen together.  We would sit together and follow the prompts.  It asked us to close our eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then would help us calm down by thinking about some very lovely parts of our day. In the end, it reminds us that “you are a good kid.”  It wasn’t too long and I was able to change our routine to listening to the meditation a few times a week, and then eventually to just as needed. 

I also led my child through some short, calming meditations.  There are so many out there.  For me, empowering my young preschooler to choose the meditation, and hold it in their hands, was the most effective.  They began to take control and could meditate at any time they wanted.   It even went to preschool for a short time.  It allowed my child a way to voice their need for a tool to help them when they were overwhelmed. I am very thankful that the school was willing to partner with our family in finding ways to support my child. 

It was through multiple mindful practices that my child began to identify as a good kid and no longer hated the way that they felt when they became overstimulated.  They began to identify the feeling they were having as a sign to find a quiet place, take a break, or do some deep breathing to re-center or re-focus. A few years later, they still use these techniques and tools to recenter.  We read the mindfulness books from time to time, and every now and again, listen to a meditation together to be reminded of how good we are.

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