This week our camp theme was gratitude. At Camp Gratitude we made mini gratitude journals. When children think of things they are grateful for it activates the calming part of the nervous system. This helps children to feel not only calmer, but happier. With school getting ready to start, now is a perfect time to make the gratitude journal a healthy habit. Every morning, before school, have your child write or draw one thing he is grateful for in a journal or on the bathroom mirror. What a great way for a child to start, not only their day, but their new school year!
Here are a few prompts to get you started. Ask her to write or draw about:
A person you appreciate.
A place that makes you happy.
An item you love (e.g., backpack, waffles, bike).
A skill or ability you are awesome at.
A person who makes you laugh.
Your favorite song.
Something that you accomplished that made you feel good.
A sport or hobby you enjoy.
A pet you love.
A teacher who showed you kindness.
Learning to be grateful helps children to develop executive function skills, which are higher level cognitive skills needed to self-regulate. Being grateful increases mindfulness and compassion for others. Being grateful can shift your child’s mood and enhance her overall well-being.
What to Say
Did you know that practicing being grateful can make you feel happier and healthier?
Each morning think of one thing you are grateful for and write or draw it.
Notice how you feel.
Check out our mini gratitude journal from Camp Gratitude.
Spaghetti Body is a relaxation technique known as Progressive Muscle Relaxation . Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing muscle groups. In this activity, kids tense and relax muscles while pretending to be uncooked and cooked spaghetti.
What are the benefits?
Spaghetti Body teaches children how to relax their muscles when they are tight. Research shows progressive muscle relaxation can reduce anxiety and stress. Additionally, Spaghetti Body helps improve attention, mindful awareness, concentration, and self-concept.
How to practice Spaghetti Body at home:
Make you body straight and tight like a piece of uncooked spaghetti. Glue everything together and squeeze.
Breathe slowly in and out through your nose. Your belly should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out.
Notice how you feel. This is what happens to your body when you are mad or nervous.
Imagine that your uncooked spaghetti noodle is being placed in a pan of hot water. The noodle is wet and it begins so soften.
Breathe in as you curl your toes in and scrunch your feet. Hold for one, two, three. Breathe out as you start to wiggle your toes and let your feet begin to soften just like a wet, warm, noodle. Wet noodles are relaxed and wiggly – not tight and stiff.
As you breath in tighten your legs. One, two, three. As you breathe out start to wiggle your legs and let them relax.
Take a deep breath in and make your hands into tight fists and your arms straight and tight. Hold for one, two, three, now let all the air out as you relax your fingers and arms into a wet wiggly noodle.
Take a deep breath in as you bring your shoulders up by your ears. Scrunch your shoulders. One, two, three. Breathe out as you let your shoulders begin to soften and relax down your back.
Close your eyes and scrunch up your entire face. Breathe in. One, two three, release your breath and let your face relax.
I like to squeeze a fresh lemon on cooked spaghetti noodles. If you would like lemon squeezed on your noodle raise your hand I will put a cotton ball with lemon essential oil in it.
Ta-da – you are a cooked spaghetti noodle! Scan your noodle to make sure all the tightness is gone. Let your body feel relaxed and calm. Breathe in and out through your nose slowly. Notice how you feel.
Infinity Breathing is also referred to as Lazy Eight Breathing, which is a variation of a Brain Gym exercise. Brain Gym is a set of movements that ready the body for learning. For this exercise, use a dry erase board or for an extra sensory twist use organic instant pudding on a cookie sheet. Draw an infinity sign or a number eight laying on its side. Starting in the middle, your child will trace the left part of the eight while breathing in and the right while breathing out. As your child traces, make sure he keeps the middle of his body in the center of the eight. This will insure he is crossing midline.
What are the Benefits?
Crossing midline strengthens neural pathways between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Crossing midline is important for establishing hand dominance and many other academic skills. Playing in different textures increases the tactile sense, creativity and body awareness. It is also calming and relaxing.
What to Say.
Let’s trace our infinity sign five times with your index finger on your right hand. Breathe in as you move your finger left, breathe out as you move your finger the other direction. Great! Switch fingers. Trace five times with the left index finger. Fantastic tracing! Now let’s use both index fingers to trace the infinity sign ten times. What does the infinity sign remind you of? I see butterfly wings. Let’s create something out of our sign! To infinity and beyond!
Dennison, P. E. (1989). Brain gym: TEACHERS EDITION. Place of publication not identified: Edu-Kinesthetics.
Child’s Pose Press is one of my favorite yoga techniques. It is very calming and helps to center children when they are having a bad day. Best of all it can be done anywhere.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Calms the nervous system
Eases back strain
Centers the child
Reduces excess energy
HOW DOES IT WORK?
At the base of the spine just above the sacrum, there is an area where several nerve endings come together. When you apply gentle pressure to this area it has a calming affect on the nervous system.
HOW DO YOU DO IT?
Have the child go into child’s pose. Sit behind him and firmly run your hands up and down his back from top to bottom. This will stretch and open up the vertebrae in the spine. Rest your hands one on top of the other at the base of his back. Breathe in together and as you exhale press into this area with your hands. As you apply pressure, also pull back energetically. Breathe with him for five breathes. If the child is upset this can be extended. While breathing visualize calm positive energy coming out of your hands. Draw the hands firmly up and down the back one more time then release them from the child’s back. Resume your yoga routine. This can be done several times if the child is having a bad day or displays excess energy. If you are not trained in yoga it is best to seek a yoga professional and receive hands-on training before attempting this at home. Namaste.
Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children