It’s Monday morning in the classroom and many children are exhausted by their weekend activities. Some come into the room with more energy than they can possibly fit between four walls. Several have spent the weekend on electronics for more hours than any of us would wish. Others have schedules crammed with sports and family activities. Many are anxious about what the week holds. The parents peek in, glance around at the mixed crew and whisper “Good luck to you, Ms. L,“ as they make their way down the hallway to meet the demands of their own schedules.
When I ask the children what they would like to do most as they start the week, hands go up and they usually say “a relaxation mindfulness activity.” We spend the first fifteen minutes of the day breathing, centering, setting intention, talking about what we are grateful for and how to work through difficult situations. We talk about brain science and how to calm our brains and bodies so we can make good decisions. Then we begin the curriculum of the day.
Who knew blowing bubbles could be a mindful, stress relieving and compassion building practice?
Would you like your children to be compassionate, resilient, happy beings but are not sure how to do that? Would you like to know that you are giving children gifts that will last them a lifetime and change the very way they interact with the world? Would you like to teach your child practices to use their mind to change their brains for the better, a process that allows your children to meet today and tomorrows inevitable stresses, with presence, self compassion and openness instead of fear and worry? You can!
In our book, Awakening Joy for Kids, James Baraz and I offer parents, educators and children a huge toolbox of playful user-friendly practices to nurture qualities of wellbeing such as mindfulness, gratitude, getting through difficult times, loving ourselves, loving others and several other social-emotional principles. These ideas are fun and many can be done anytime and anywhere. With lessons like drinking tea, puppy breathing and gardening, who would think mindful practices could be this enjoyable?
And the great thing is that this book is not just written with exercises for children but also offers parallel practices for teachers and parents, too. Everyone is nourished. It is the best of the best that we have been teaching for decades for both the classroom and the mindfulness community.
One Tiny Practice – Bubbles of Loving Kindness
Where – Inside or outside on the playground or anywhere really. This is not sight specific. As a parent you can throw a jar of bubbles into your purse or bag and bring them out while waiting for a bus or lying under a tree.
When – Anytime, especially when you need a brain break at school or at home when your children are in need of centering.
Why – Relaxing the nervous system and wishing others well lifts the body into a sense of wellbeing. It’s fun and a time saver. When you do this, the rest of your day goes better educationally, relationship wise and in every way.
How – Take turns sharing your bubbles. Parent can go first to set an example and show that they too have appreciations and challenges.
With each breath begin by slowing saying whom you would like to send the love bubbles to.
- Self – “I send bubbles of appreciation to myself because I played with Cara when she was lonely today.”
- Loved ones – “I send bubbles of appreciation to my Mom because she made me dinner.”
- Someone at school – “I send bubbles of appreciation to Jonah because he played basketball with me today.”
- Someone you might be having a hard time with – “I send bubbles of appreciation to Jack because he can be challenging at times and he gives me patience.”
By the time this exercise is complete the breath will be regulated and calm and lovely thoughts will be sent out to all.
Here is a recipe that fits the bill.
- 1/2 cup of Eco-friendly dish detergent
- 5 cups of soft water or distilled water
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable glycerin (We’ve have heard of people using light corn syrup but you will have to try this one yourself!)
- Mix the ingredients together in a large container. Let sit overnight.
*Tip – As teachers we often need jugs of bubbles. Save money and help the Earth by doubling or tripling the recipe. Store the large containers under the sink with many handmade bubble wands. Less plastic, less harmful detergents!
Bring well-being and greater emotional intelligence to your home and classroom. Bring out the best in everyone and get your copy of Awakening Joy for Kids today.
* Extra note:
We will soon be publishing a deck of 52 Awakening Joy cards that help cultivate the ten steps of Awakening Joy in a simple, fun way, while building social and emotional well-being. These cards can stand-alone and pair beautifully with both Awakening Joy and Awakening Joy for Kids.
James Baraz and Michele Lilyanna are the authors of Awakening Joy for Kids. Michele has over 25 years experience as a classroom teacher and educator while James has been teaching mindfulness since 1978.