How Do We Help Our Kids Adapt And Thrive

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How do we help our children adapt and thrive in the fast paced world that awaits them? We share some practical ideas that can be woven into everyday life.

1 YOU’RE NEVER TOO YOUNG TO START LEARNING ABOUT YOUR BRAIN
If we can learn just a few simple facts about the brains we come into this world with, then we can start to understand why we might do the things we do. This helps build Emotional Intelligence (the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others).

Children are never too young to be introduced to their brains and there are some easy and fun ways to do this. At a very simple level, we have two brains: The ‘Old Brain’ (responsible for basic physical desires, motives and emotions such as the fight, flight or freeze responses) and the ‘New Brain’ that sets us apart from animals. This part of the brain enables us to think, imagine and reason and gives us our sense of self. Our new brain capabilities can easily be hijacked by our old brain feelings, emotions or desires. Like a dog, the old brain is most useful to us if we can train it using our rational new brain.

Young children can be introduced to this concept by imagining that one part of theirbrain is like a Cheeky Monkey and another is like a Wise Owl. Sometimes the Cheeky Monkey can get a bit too excited, or if it feels scared or angry it might want to scream and run away or do things that might hurt other people, like hit or say unkind words. The Wise Owl can train (or talk to) the Cheeky Monkey so that when feelings come up, the Cheeky Monkey can stop for a minute while the Wise Owl helps it do something good until they’re old enough to take on bigger concepts e.g. “What would Wise Owl tell
Cheeky Monkey to do?” with those feelings. For young toddlers, just talking about Cheeky Monkey and Wise Owl

2 PRACTISE CALMING DOWN EVERY DAY
Mindful breathing and/or Gratitude Exercises are a great way to help calm children down or to quickly ‘change their emotional channel’. They release happy hormones (e.g. dopamine) and reduce stress hormones (e.g cortisol), puttingmchildren in a powerful positive mental state. One of my favourites is to help children think of all the good people and good things in their lives each night just before bedtime.

3 RE-FRAME SCARY STORIES
If a child is worried about nightmares or certain situations and scenarios, you can create new stories together and make scary things become funny or small and cute. This is a very simple Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) technique called Reframing. Or you can role play scary situations by taking turns at being different characters and testing out good coping strategies
together. Children love it when you pretend to be them and they can see how you would react to something that is bothering them.

4 MAKE YOUR OWN FUN!
If children can learn how to make their own fun it’s a great tool for them to use if they ever feel left out or are in a new situation without their usual support group (like their first day at kindy). Help them get clear on what types of things they like to do (and can do), not only will it help them to feel comfortable in their own company, but it will open up opportunities for them to make new friends too.

5 PRACTISE EMPATHY
Empathy plays a vital role in preventing bullying and building social tolerance. Ask children to reflect every day on something kind that they did for someone (or saw someone else do). Considering tough situations from a different perspective can also help young children emotionally step out of difficult situations, start to consider others’ feelings and process their own. (as if they’re little invisible friends) can start the imagery and fun conversations flowing

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