We’re here to serve as a resource for you and your family so that you can incorporate more presence and love into your lives. On this page, you’ll find research and tools for bringing more mindfulness into your home.
“Happiness does not lead to gratitude. Gratitude leads to happiness.”
— Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast
How can being a grateful parent help our children with their emotional regulation? It’s all about heart coherence. According to the Heartmath Institute, when we feel thing like love, *gratitude*, and compassion, our heart sends our brain a “coherent” signal. It serves to promote healing within our body and allows us to respond to stressful situations with clear discernment. This signal also radiates as a magnetic fields from our bodies that can be measured several feet away!
When a child is experiencing tough emotions, their auditory processing basically shuts down. Meaning, trying to reason or sooth them with words isn’t very effective at first. BUT, what we can do is share our coherent heart state. By remaining in a coherent heart state, adults can assist a child’s nervous system to return to balance simply by being nearby!
And how do we, as adults, ensure our hearts are in a coherent state so that we can best serve ourselves and our little people? Intentional practice of gratitude.
So what are you grateful for today? Can you name a person you’re grateful for? Something that happened this morning? A body part? What about something that’s recently challenged you? Regular, intentional practice of gratitude can actually reshape our brain (!) so that we begin seeing more of the good stuff in our day to day lives and so we can keep our heart in a coherent state. Try journaling every morning three things you’re grateful for, or make a game out of it with your children during dinnertime.
p.s.: We’re grateful for YOU, dear person, for taking the time to read this. We seriously could not do this without you!
What if I told you I could give you a tool that can change your mood from tired to energized or angry to calm? Something that could help you concentrate and return to the present moment? What if I told you it was free, always with you, and loved by children and adults? Of course, you know by the title that I’m talking about our breath. It almost sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? It’s not. We can use the power of our breath to change what state our nervous system is in, bring us to the present moment, and to even change our emotional state.
Any time we focus on our exhale, making it longer or more forceful, our parasympathetic nervous system (aka rest and digest) is activated. This is SO important as a way to combat the everyday stressors of life that puts our nervous system into sympathetic (aka flight, fight, or freeze) mode. For a simple, discreet way to focus on the exhale, I like to count my breathing, inhaling slowly into my belly for a four count, holding a few seconds, then slowly exhaling through my nose for a six count. Try it!
There are a plethora of fun breaths that focus on the exhale that kids can do - including taco breath, lion’s breath, and horse breath. I made a nifty graphic that describes these three breaths you can download for free here, as well as an activity guide/lesson plan for teaching breath work with art you can purchase here. These would go great in a calming corner or zen den!
But don’t just take it from me. Read this Forbes article with five science-backed ways intentional breathing benefits our bodies.
I think it’s safe to say we all want our kids to grow into compassionate, caring humans. But how do we encourage that? Especially when, developmentally speaking, it’s totally normal to be egocentric?
First, they need to practice understanding their own emotions. Emotion labels such as sad, happy, and angry are really just generally agreed upon words that describe something we’re feeling inside. For young children, narrating their emotions for them as they happen can help bring awareness (“You’re clenching your fists, talking louder, and scrunching your eyebrows. You seem frustrated.”). As they get older, check in with them to see how they’re feeling from time to time. (And for more about emotional regulation and awareness, check out the section below!)
Then, practice noticing together how other people may be feeling; again, narrating at first then eventually asking children if they can determine how that person may be feeling (“That girl walking down the street is walking slowly with her head down. How do you think she’s feeling?” “You told me Justin forgot his lunch? How do you think he felt when he realized that? Yeah, probably embarrassed and sad. What do those emotions feel like for you when they happen?”). It just takes a moment, but these practices can form the foundation for your children to have deep, meaningful relationships both with themselves and with others.
I’ve also added a pack of kindness prompt cards to the shop that have been specifically designed to create empathy and compassion. You’ll be inspired to send a hug through your mind to a friend, tell someone what you appreciate about them, and give lots of love to yourself. Check them out here.