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5 easy ways to help your child feel calm this Christmas

We're living in curious times. The sands are shifting beneath our feet and at the same time our children are as usual beyond excited about the approach of the big day. To aid you in balancing that excitement with some sense of calm this year, especially with none of the usual outlets available, we've asked Ciaran Ivanovic, the founder of Mindful Kids, to give us her advice on how to create a kid-friendly calm oasis in the middle of their forest of Christmas fun.

1 Get them to breathe!

Slow, steady breathing lowers our heart rate and helps us to feel calm. Invite your child to place their hands on their tummy and breathe in slowly and steadily all the way in to their tummy and then out. Notice how the tummy gently moves in time with the breathing. Try this for a minute and increase the time as and when you feel your child is ready. This is a great way to start and end the day.

2. Encourage them to look on the 'bright' side

If your child is upset or frustrated about what they’re not able to do this Christmas, help them to focus on the positives such as having enough food to eat, a warm home, a loving family.

Encourage your child to stay ‘present’ remembering that we can’t change the past and we cannot force the future. One effective way of doing this is starting a gratitude journal: what are you grateful for today? (a hug/a favourite meal/a sunny day/going for a walk with a friend).

3. Be creative together

Try anything creative together such as colouring, baking, origami, puzzles, stone painting. These mindful activities are not only bonding but they use both sides of the brain helping us to feel more balanced and calm; they give one a sense of accomplishment and boost our happiness, whilst the creating part keeps you in the present moment.

You can also give your kids (and yourself) screen-free days to unwind, re-energise and reconnect as a family.

4. Pop any worries down on paper

Make a worry box - a useful way of taking a worry out of your head. Write (or draw) your worry down and post it in the box (a shoe box works well). At a later stage you can chat with your child about what was worrying them and whether or not it was worth worrying about in the first place. Often not!

5. Have a hot chocolate

Mindful hot chocolate meditation (for grown ups a coffee or tea works well too), is a great one to do with the kids and will give you around 10 minutes peace and quiet. 10 minutes to give you some time out to quiet your mind, breathe, taste and connect with yourself during this calming and enjoyable mindfulness practice.

Simply engage with your senses as you enjoy your hot chocolate: what can you feel (a warm, comforting mug in your hands), see (perhaps steam rising up in to the air; look at the colour of your hot chocolate - what shade of brown is it?), smell (breathe in that wonderful aroma).

Try to give this practice your full attention without any distractions (such as the TV on in the background, or phones on the table…).

Please visit www.mindful-kids.co.uk for videos on ABC breathing, the hot chocolate meditation and many other helpful resources. And don't forget to check back in the New Year when we'll have more help and advice from Ciaran. Tomorrow we'll be publishing her tips for bringing calm to a grown up this Christmas.

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