29 Nov Cultivating Balance in Children
By Jane Boutilier
Cultivating wellness in body, mind, and spirit can help children become present, create calmness and encourage a much-needed balance in their young, precious lives. Many children are becoming sensitive to a growing number of external stresses and chaotic lifestyles, making it difficult for them to know how to relax and understand their emotions.
Schools across Canada and around the world have recognized these growing challenges and are beginning to incorporate the practice of mindfulness in their curricula. Recent research in Canada on mindfulness suggests that being mindful helps reduce stress and depression, fosters connectivity with others, improves cognitive abilities and focus, enhances a sense of well- being and peace, enhances and promotes less emotional reactivity.
Ask your child how it feels when they take a breath. As they breathe deeper and experience the feelings throughout their body, ask them to explain how it feels as the breath enters and exits the body. Do they feel any sensations, is it cool or warm? Encourage the freedom of undirected creativity and notice how this affects them. This can help them relax, quiet their mind and become meditative.
Have kids swing their arms, side to side, or let them go where they may, reach high for the stars, or ask them to create their own visualizations and movements. This helps reduce tension, lifting their mood and is a joyful shared process. Keep it fun.
A Place of Their Own
Helping your child create a peaceful, quiet corner of their own away from noise and distraction can also help foster mindfulness. Placing a pillow or two will ensure they are comfortable in their sanctuary. The room or space you both create should be used solely for practice, and viewed as a special sanctuary, just for the child.
Introduce a favorite fruit, vegetable or dried fruit. Ask your child to touch smell and examine their choice of food closely. Ask them to lay it on their tongue and feel the texture without biting it. Now ask them to chew the food for as long as they can before swallowing. This teaches how often we chew our food too quickly and without experiencing the taste, texture and noticing when we are full. While using all of their senses in this exercise, children are fully engaged with the pleasurable process of eating!
Avoiding junk food and relying on wholesome natural foods is a good foundation for optimal nutrition. My recommendations for school aged children for optimal nutrition, unless allergies are present, is as follows; whole grains (at least 6 servings), 3-5 servings of fresh, (organic if possible) vegetables per day, 2-4 servings of fresh, organic fruit as well as good oils, such as nuts and seeds, olive oil, flax oil or coconut oil. Children also require 2-3 servings of protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs or legumes) 2-3 servings of dairy â€“live culture yogurt or kefir or non-dairy sources of calcium. Supplementing with fatty acids, also recommended for optimal nutrition, are essential, but not made by the body. Essential fatty acids are however, critical for the developing brain.
Jane Boutilier is a Registered Holistic Nutritional Consultant & Reiki Master presently working at Enigma Physiccal, Emotional & Mental Health Studio.