Remember the Berenstain Bears from when we were kids? I thought my mom had us reading them because she loves bears. Now that my kids are getting a little older, I’m thinking she had an ulterior motive. I think she wanted us to learn a few things from them.
A few books in particular stick out, but right now, it’s The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies, because my kids have been arguing over toys and throwing fits when they don’t get the toy they want. Perfect time to read this book!
But, it brings about a larger issue. We’ve all seen the hashtag #firstworldproblems, right? And, this totally is a first world problem, but it’s also a bigger problem about being more aware of ourselves and our surroundings. If I want my kids to be appreciative, to cooperate, compromise, and play nicely together, then I need to model and help them work through their disagreements and squabbles. Of course, it’s a natural part of growing up, arguing with one’s sibling(s). But, I also want them to be able to handle their own disagreements when they’re older. So, it’s time to practice now.
And, it takes a lot of work. A LOT. But, only at first. After they get the hang of it, it’s quite simple and REALLY fulfilling to hear them using strategies and techniques that we practiced.
Books are a great way to teach children, especially about feelings and bigger concepts. They can see what’s happening in the book. You can talk about the character’s faces, ask your child questions about what he/she thinks and why. Books provide a great starting point for discussions, which can also lead to role playing (using dolls, stuffed animals, puppets, or even just yourselves).
Another great way to teach about feelings, emotions, compromise, sharing, problem-solving, and similar things is through mindfulness.
Put simply, mindfulness is being more aware. It’s being more aware of our feelings, emotions, surroundings. It means being present in the moment (putting down our phones!). It also means thinking about why we’re feeling a certain way and being more open-minded.
All things that are good for kids to learn, right? Kids that are more open-minded will do better in school and have an easier time getting along with others. If they’re more present in the moment, they’re able to pay attention longer and are more apt to complete tasks and carry on conversations.
So, by working on sharing, taking turns, not having a case of the gimmies, showing appreciation and gratitude, and being more aware of others, I’m helping my children be more mindful. Over time, they’ll get along better with one another, and when they do have a squabble, they’ll be more equipped to handle it without pushing, shoving, fighting, or coming to me to help them solve it.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m not able or willing to help my children handle disagreements, or that as 2 and 3.5 year olds, that they should be able to. But, what I am saying is that my goal is that one day, they won’t need me to solve their problems. It won’t matter as much who had the red train first. They’ll be able to resolve that problem peacefully and without adult intervention.
Mindfulness will help with that. They’ll be more aware of their surroundings, more aware of what the other might be thinking or planning, and better equipped to negotiate, compromise, or otherwise resolve situations with each other and their friends.
It’s something we need to practice and work on regularly (i.e., daily). Yes, it takes time, especially in the beginning, but it gets easier, more natural, and is certainly worth it when our days are more peaceful and everyone’s happier.
Right now, I’m sitting near the kids while they play and I’m helping them work through any disagreements. We’re talking about feelings, what’s fair, and why. And, we’re doing yoga.
It helps us slow down, pay attention to what we’re doing, and be more, you guessed it- mindful. We’re focusing on our bodies, how it feels, how quiet the house is, and what we’re doing. If you’re picturing an adult-style yoga class, you’re way off base. That’s not appropriate for children for a wide variety of reasons. What we’re doing is more of me doing yoga poses and the kids copying me. I’m talk about what I’m doing, how I’m feeling, and why. They’re copying me. Of course, they’re not doing yoga perfectly, but that’s okay. They’re enjoying it, being a bit more mindful and “present” in their day, and paying more attention to their bodies and having fun, in a calm, quiet kind of way.
Want to jump on board? I’ve partnered with Megan, a kids yoga instructor and owner of Learning Lotuses. Together, we’ve created a 10 day “Parent and Me Yoga Challenge.” It’s a FREE challenge packed full of easy and fun yoga poses and activities to help your little one learn the alphabet and practice counting. How’s that for multitasking?!
This 10-day yoga challenge provides you and your child with easy and fun yoga poses, while also learning ABCs and counting!
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Connie & Megan