Toddlers tantrums are difficult to manage as they can often go

angrychildfrom 0 to 100 in the space of a few seconds.   This roller coaster of emotion can be difficult to manage at the best of times, never mind if you are a stressed out parent or educator.

The idea that toddlers will sit for long periods of time meditating may be a challenge, but we can help them use mindfulness tools to recognise the signal their bodies give them before the meltdown begins.

In class, I teach students about the body and how it is a useful barometer of our emotional state.  Most of the time we don’t pay attention to it until it is uncomfortable or in pain and even then we take painkillers rather than tuning into the body’s needs.

Just as we teach toddlers to recognise the signals they get from their body during potty training, we can teach them to be aware of the signals in their body that they are unhappy before it reaches a point of no return; aka a tantrum.

Here are some useful tips that you might like to try in helping your toddlers learn meditation and become more mindful.

Toddlers have a short attention span so it is important to give them mindful activities that can engage them for short sessions (30s or a minute to start with).  The idea is to practise regularly to help them build up their ability to focus.  ‘Little and often’ is the intention.

Movement – this is a great way to work with children’s energy that like to move.  There is no point in trying to get them to sit still if they enjoy movement.  When bringing some attention to their body during a moving meditation (yoga moves) try to help make it fun (even noisy).  Ask them to notice where they feel sounds in their body.  The movement will also help their energy to become more grounded.

When asking them to focus, let them lie down on the ground.  If they can feel the ground under their body you can ask them to tap the floor with their heels, their hands, their feet and to roll their head.  This brings their attention to different parts of their body.

When we have their attention in the body, we can then ask them to think about something that makes them feel happy/good – they can place a hand on their body where they notice this feeling/sensation.

Then do the same but this time for when they feel sad/unhappy.  You may need to give them an example of a time where they were upset to help them remember.  We aren’t trying to upset them but helping them to see how their body feels when this happens (or they think it happens).  Just like we encourage kids to notice when they need to go to the bathroom when training them out of nappies.

When they can recognise this feeling,  we can invite them to work with the breath (breathing out that feeling), energy techniques like the ‘hook up‘ (from Donna Eden’s great work) or movement (jumping up and down to shake it out) before it takes them to an angry or upset place.

Please note that although we are focussing here on toddlers;  any child with a short attention span (of any age) could benefit from trying to connect to their body to read the signals before they feel upset/angry and to teach them some mindfulness tools so they can express frustrations more peacefully.

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