All posts by Tracy Daniel

Tracy is a trained yoga professional, certified in both hatha and kundalini yoga. She is certified in yoga levels 1-3 from the world-renowned Radiant Child Yoga (RYC) program. She is also certified in brain gym.

Growth Mindset Game

Teaching kids to have a growth mindset can be tricky.  After all just telling kids to have a growth mindset usually doesn’t work. Instead, teach them that the brain is a muscle that can get stronger and change with challenging tasks.   Emphasize the importance of hard work and problem-solving.

Games are a great way to teach tricky concepts to kids.  Growth Mindset, Fixed Mindset adds yoga and a mindset twist on a classic game, Red Light, Green Light.  Before you begin the game, provide an explanation of a fixed and growth mindset.  A fixed mindset avoids challenges and assumes that abilities are fixed, frozen or unchanging.  A growth mindset enjoys a challenge and sees failures as a way to learn and grow. 

How to Play the Growth Mindset Game

Growth Mindset, Fixed Mindset is best played with four or more players, ages six and older. The leader stands at the front of the room.  When she says, “Growth Mindset” players slowly move and grow toward the leader. When she says, “Fixed Mindset” players freeze in place in a yoga pose. The yoga pose can be predetermined by the leader or freestyle where players choose their own. The player who makes it to the leader first is the winner.

What are the Benefits?

Growth Mindset, Fixed Mindset builds executive function through play. Executive function plays a fundamental role in emotion regulation and impulse control. It helps kids reflect before they react. The growth mindset game also provides yoga pose review and enhances focus.

In summary, games are a great way to build self-regulation skills. For more movement ideas to support your child’s social and emotional development sign up for an aerial yoga class or our Mindful Child Teacher Training.

Happy Mindfulness Game

Happy Mindfulness Game

Materials

  • Bingo stamper
  • Printed page of emojis

What is Happy Stamp?

Happy stamp is a simple visual scanning game. Google emojis on your computer.  Lots of images will come up.  Pick an image with multiple emojis and print it.  Emoji stickers are also available on Amazon. Put the stickers on a blank piece of paper or card stock and make copies of it. Then give your child a bingo stamper and ask them to find happy emojis.

What are the Benefits?

Happy stamp improves visual discrimination.  Children must be mindful or they may stamp the wrong emotion.  It also improves fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination.

What to Say

We are going to find all the happy emojis on this page.  When you see a happy emoji we are going to stamp it. Remember we are only stamping the happy ones!

Mindfulness Challenge:

A variation of this game for older children is to color all the O’s on a newspaper page or poke holes with a toothpick through the O’s.

Want to learn more amazing mindfulness games? Join us for class or buy my book, Mindfulness for Children: 150+ Activities for Happier, Healthier, Stress-Free Children.

Instagram Accounts We Love

Instagram

You might think Instagram serves as simply a playground to waste time scrolling through pretty pictures, but did you know that there are some excellent educational accounts you can follow to get your daily dose of fun, plus learn some great factual knowledge?

Here are some of our favorite picks for wholesome, educational content related to children:

  • RockChalkSpeechTalk. RockChalkSpeechTalk founder, Kari Radovich, is a speech therapist at Lee Ann Britain Infant Development Center (Britain IDC). This instagram account provides literacy based therapy, easy prep material ideas, and science-based circle time. Kari’s ideas are fun and creative for use at home or in the classroom.
  • MeddyTeddy. Meddy Teddy is a mindful teddy bear who does yoga. This account posts uplifting quotes, yoga poses and mindfulness related content. It is super cute and kids love Meddy.
  • TheMovementMama. The MovementMama instagram account is run by Kailee, a pediatric physical therapist at Lee Ann Britain Development Center (they hire really good therapists). Kailee’s account empowers parents through play-based movement. This account focuses on infants and toddlers and provides great educational content to parents.
  • SesameStreet. Its mission is to help kids grow smarter, stronger, kinder – in more than 150 countries around the world! What more could a parent ask for?
  • EmilyPriceWellness. Emily is a yoga teacher and wellness professional. She posts a variety of wonderful content related to self-care and wellness. She emphasizes a healthy lifestyle through movement, food and all things health related.
  • Mindful Child Mindful Child Aerial Yoga also has an instagram account, we focus on movement, breath, and mindfulness for children. Our mission is to provide brain-based interventions that are fun for the whole family.

In summary, Instagram is more than just pretty pictures, hashtags, and videos. It has a variety of educational accounts for parents to follow to help with a home therapy program, brain breaks, or family time. Best of all it is free.

Vitamin D and COVID-19

Food Sources of Vitamin D

In a pandemic, with a stay at home mandate, there is little you are able to control. However, self-care and diet are one aspect that you do have control over. What you and your child eat can contribute to how your immune system responds to COVID-19. Of particular interest, is the link between vitamin D and respiratory illness. Studies are linking individuals with vitamin deficiencies with more severe cases of COVID-19 and higher mortality rates.  Vitamin D plays an important role in immune function, including fighting diseases.  It has been linked to severity of respiratory infections in the past such as influenza. 

Here are a few ways to naturally increase vitamin D intake:

Vitamin D from the Sun
  • Eat fish. It is found in fatty fish such as salmon and tuna. Eating six ounces of salmon gives you approximately 4,000 IU of vitamin D.
  • Go swimming. Vitamin D can be absorbed by the sun. However, to make enough, you need 15 minutes of sun exposure with no sunscreen and with lots of skin exposed such as wearing a swimsuit. Location and skin type can also affect absorption of vitamin D by the sun. 
  • Eat eggs. Vitamin D is found in egg yolks and can be enhanced by eating eggs from chickens that have been pasture raised. Why is pasture raised important? The chickens absorb sunlight when they are in the pasture, which adds more vitamin D to their eggs.
  • Read about it. Dr. Michael Holick, is a leading authority and researcher on vitamin D, he recommends 2,000 IU a day for adults and 1,000 IU for children. His book, The Vitamin D Solution, offers inexpensive, easy ideas to reverse vitamin D deficiency.

Science tells us vitamin D can reduce the symptoms of infectious diseases such as influenza and COVID-19. It plays an important role in bone and mental health as well. Enhancing intake is easily done with diet and sun exposure. However, it doesn’t hurt to supplement it, especially during a pandemic. When buying supplements make sure you buy from a quality source such as your chiropractor or O’Briens Pharmacy.

References

Grant WB, Lahore H, McDonnell SL, Baggerly CA, French CB, Aliano JL, Bhattoa HP. Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths. Nutrients. 2020; 12(4):988.

Holick, M.F. Vitamin D Deficiency. New Engl. J. Med. 2007. 357:266-81.

Kindness ROCKS

Ways to Cultivate Kind Kids

Kid’s Art

Kindness, like any skill, has to be learned and practiced. Fortunately, there are many fun ways to teach children how to be kind to the environment, themselves, and others.

Art is a way to introduce the concept of kindness. Children love to paint, color, and create. This simple art project combines positive affirmation (kindness to self) and creativity.

Materials

What is Kindness Rocks?

Kindness Rocks are great way to start off your child’s day.  Positive affirmations are statements to help children reach their goals.  Kindness rocks are a simple art activity for children eight-years-old and older to remind them to be kind to themselves.  These colorful stones are just what children need to be happy on a grumpy day. 

What are the Benefits?

Focusing on positive statements can shift your child’s mood.  Affirmations help children believe the statement that is printed on the stone. Making your own kindness rock, boosts creativity, focus, and executive functioning. 

What to Say.

  • Let’s make kindness rocks to remind us to be kind to ourselves and of our positive affirmations or goals we want to achieve. 
  • I’m going to pass out rocks and fun acrylic color markers. 
  • Next, pick out a few acrylic colors.  Paint the front of your stone a light, fun color.  Color the outside edge with a darker color.  Make a heart in the middle and color it red.  Paint a word in the heart.
  • Add designs such as dots and stripes to the outside of the heart.  While it’s drying, take a few deep breaths. 
  • Finally paint decoupage, which is like shiny glue, over your rock.
  • Once it is dry, put it in your pocket. Take it out when you are feeling sad. Think about your word and breathe deeply. Notice how you feel.

Being kind is easy to instill in everyday activities with your child. Immerse children in it through drawing, coloring, reading and talking about it. At Mindful Child, being kind is our number one yoga rule. We talk about being kind in every aerial yoga class as part of our social and emotional learning curriculum. Check out our online and live classes to learn more ways to inspire kindness.

Three Ways Mindfulness Techniques Can Help Kids

kids mindful breathing

Mindfulness is a great tool for children during this unprecedented time.  With activities and schedules being turned upside down due to COVID-19, mindfulness techniques can help kids to reduce the stress and handle big emotions.  The best part about mindfulness is there are many different ways to be mindful – from mind-body practices like breathing exercises, yoga and mindful eating, to stillness practices like guided relaxations. There is something for everyone in the family to try. In these uncertain times, when we all truly need to feel supported and connected, I encourage parents to explore mindfulness and see how it might support them and their family.

Here are few mindfulness techniques to try at home:

  • Be mindful outdoors.  Take a ride your bike.  Research tells us that spending time in nature can change how we feel.  As you ride, pay close attention to what you see, hear, feel, and smell.  If you have a basket, maybe even gather objects such as rocks, sticks, and leaves to create an art project or mandala. 
  • Focus on the good. Every cloud has a silver lining, but sometimes it can be hard to find that silver lining when you are experiencing stress.  Encourage your child to use her breath, while thinking of a positive affirmation such as “I am happy.”  This will shift the negative mindset to a positive one.
  • Take deep breaths.  Breathing techniques are a useful tool for self-regulation.  Many children express how taking deep Elevator Breaths helped them to fall asleep at night or even in yoga! Taking ten deep breaths is a simple solution for big emotions that can be done anytime and anywhere.  It is truly an amazing tool for reducing stress. 

What makes an activity mindful, is if we pay attention to the activity while using our senses.  That being said, there are lots of ways to cultivate mindfulness. If you need a few ideas check out Mindful Child Online classes or my book, Mindfulness for Children, 150+ Activities for Healthier, Happier, Stress -Free Kids. When beginning a mindfulness practice, start small with a few minutes a day.  Also, try to pick a consist time to practice mindfulness to make it a habit.  If your children are doing schoolwork, add in a few minutes of mindfulness throughout the day.  Set time aside so that the whole family can practice together.  After COVID-19 is over, kids will think back fondly on the mindfulness activities they did as a family. 

Think Happy – Be Happy

Healthy Brain

You have the power to change your brain – one thought at a time!

Did you know you have the power to change your brain?  You, not doctors, have the power to change your thoughts.  There are a lot of things you can’t control in your life, BUT you can control your thoughts.  Even though this sounds simple, sometimes it is hard to change your mindset. Your brain is a muscle and just like the muscles in your arms your brain needs to work out to grow strong, healthy, and happy.  Luckily there are lots of mood-changing workouts for your brain. 

Here are four mood-changing workouts for your brain:

Take Deep Breaths

  • Take 10 deep breaths.  Find a peaceful place in your home or yard and practice taking ten deep slow breaths.  Practice breathing throughout the day when you are happy and calm.  Breathe all the way down to your belly to help your brain feel calm. 

Go for a Walk

  • Walk out your stress and worries.  Just 10 minutes of movement, in nature, can change how you feel.  Relaxed movement reduces stress-hormone production, resulting in a happier, healthier you.

Have an “Attitude of Gratitude”

  • Have an “Attitude of Gratitude.”  Gratitude shifts your mood and helps you to realize how much you have to be thankful for.  Beginning your day with a short gratitude list is a powerful way to promote positive thinking and an overall sense of well-being. 

Meditate Your Way to Happiness

  • Do a short meditation.  Meditation actually changes your brain.  When you meditate your brain makes the brain chemicals that help you feel happy and relaxed. Science tells us that the more you meditate the more brain chemicals your brain makes.  Try making meditation a daily habit, even if it is only for a few minutes every day. 

Focus on the Now

Neuroscience demonstrates you can actually grow happy centers in your brain by feeding them happy thoughts.  When you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, notice the feeling and then do one of the brain workouts above to change it.  You can’t change unpleasant things from the past, but you can choose to change the present by focusing on the good in the here and now.  Want to learn more about how movement, mindfulness, and breathing can change how you feel?  Sign up for our online aerial yoga and mindfulness classes.  If you are in the Kansas City area, hang out with us for 12-weeks this summer in our aerial yoga classes and camps.   

REFERENCES

Sevinc G, Lazar SW. How does mindfulness training improve moral cognition: a theoretical and experimental framework for the study of embodied ethics. Current Opinion in Psychology [Internet]. 2019;28 :268-272. Publisher’s VersionAbstract

Shapero BG, Greenberg J, Mischoulon D, Pedrelli P, Meade K, Lazar SW. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Improves Cognitive Functioning and Flexibility Among Individuals with Elevated Depressive Symptoms. Mindfulness [Internet]. 2018 :1-13. Publisher’s VersionAbstract

Windmills: Increase Your Brain Power

What are Windmills? 

Windmills strengthen and tone the entire body, making them a popular warm- up exercise in physical education, yoga, and martial arts.  Windmills are also good for improving brain power. Moving opposite limbs across the body engages the brain and integrates brain hemispheres. 

What are the Benefits?

Windmills stretch your arms, shoulders, core and lower back. Windmills are also a core exercise as you use your core muscles to twist and return to an upright position.

Cognitively, windmills strengthen the brain. Windmills require your child to cross midline, which refers to being able to reach across the body with arms or legs. Midline is an imaginary line down the center of your body. Being able to cross midline is an important developmental skill that is linked to reading and writing.

What to Say.

  • Stand up tall in Mountain Pose with your feet apart. 
  • Take a deep breath in.  Stand up taller. 
  • As you breathe out, bend over and touch your right foot with the left hand. 
  • Breathe in as you stand up.
  • Time to switch sides. Keep going!

Windmills are a fun and easy brain break. They can be done almost anywhere and best of all they are building brain power! Want more easy ways to build your child’s brain? Join us for an aerial yoga class or read Mindfulness for Children.

Online Mindfulness Resources for Kids

Online Mindfulness Resources

With the stress and uncertainty in the world today mindfulness resources are needed more than ever.  Numerous studies have demonstrated the positive effects of mediation and mindfulness on physical and psychological health. Mindfulness can help your child develop an inner calm and happiness.  Even though using an app to be mindful seems contrary to yoga and mindfulness, desperate times require desperate measures.  The coronavirus has closed avenues to yoga and mindfulness in person and left us in a world of social distancing, requiring us to step out of our comfort zones and try new ways to practice mindfulness.  Here are a few of my favorite mindfulness apps:

  • Smiling Minds.  This FREE app was developed by psychologists and educators and has mindfulness programs from age seven to adults. 
  • Headspace.  The Headspace app teaches meditation and mindfulness in just a few minutes a day. It offers breathing techniques, visualization, and special programs for kids. 
  • Stop, Breathe, & Think.  This friendly app was made to guide people of all ages through meditations on mindfulness and compassion.  It even has features designed specifically for kids. 
  • Breathe, Think, Do, with Sesame. Sesame Street is a wonderful resource for not only mindfulness, but growth mindset as well.  Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame is a research-based app that helps your child learn Sesame’s strategy for problem-solving to teach his monster friend to take deep breaths!

According to science, yoga has a multitude of health and mood benefits. The benefits of yoga are boosted if you pair it with mindfulness. If you want to add a little movement to your child’s mindfulness practice, there are several places to practice yoga online. For the next few weeks, online yoga may be the only option.  Here are a few of my favorite online yoga resources for families. 

  • Cosmic Kids.  Cosmic Kids offers free online adventures for kids.  The Cosmic Kids website has lesson plans and guided meditation scripts that are reasonably priced. There is even a free Cosmic Kids lesson plan sample!  
  • Yoga Ed. Yoga Ed teaches the basics of yoga and mindfulness through breathing exercises, yoga poses, games, visualizations, and relaxation activities. They have different yoga themes and age ranges to choose from, making this an easy way for kids to have a yoga and mindfulness practice at home. 

Yoga and mindfulness are powerful ways to calm down kids and sharpen their minds. Even though times may be scary and unprecedented, remember to engage in self-care and model healthy lifestyle choices. Children learn by example…

Monkey Mindfulness

Organic Bananas

What is Monkey Mindfulness?

M

The ancient yogi’s thought we had monkey minds, with our thoughts randomly jumping from branch to branch. But they also recognized that even the wildest little monkeys can be mindful too. Monkey Mindfulness allows children to act like monkeys and then use the calming power of their breath slow down.

What are the benefits?

Monkey bites are a healthy, fun snack for children. Bananas are full of potassium. Peanut butter has protein and healthy fats, making this a great snack for little growing bodies. Introducing a little chaos and then using the breath to calm the mind teaches children to self-regulate.

What to say.

  • We are going to pretend to be monkeys.  Monkeys jump from branch to branch just like our thoughts sometimes do.
  • Stand up and jump across the room just like monkeys.  Let’s hop on one foot, now the other foot.  Wow, you were fantastic monkeys.
  • How can we calm our monkey minds?  Right, with our breath! Sit in Easy Seated Pose and take ten big balloon breaths. 
  • Mindfully eat some monkey bites. Look carefully at your banana. What do you see?  Smell?  What do you taste?
  • Now we are going to add something to dip our bananas in.  I’m going to put a little powered peanut butter on your plate.
  • Using your mindfulness skills, be a food detective and notice how the peanut butter changed your banana. 
  • Take a bite dipped in peanut butter. What do you see, smell, and taste?
  • How did it taste different from the first bite without the peanut butter?

Want your child to learn more ways to be mindful? Sign up for a camp or class!