As a mum, there are lots of things I worry about on a daily basis.
Am I being a good enough parent? Are my children eating enough fruit and vegetables? Do they get enough exercise? How happy are they?
It’s that last question that plays on my mind the most. I can only do so much to help them be happy, but so much is outside of my control.
With both of children at school, I know how those early friendships can fluctuate. One day you can best friends with someone and the next they don’t want to know. Sometimes it might be down to not owning the latest ‘must have’ gadget or looking or dressing a little differently. I vividly remember times when I was made fun of, which contributed to the low self-esteem I still struggle with today.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s also the pressure associated with school tests. I’ve read news stories and seen updates on friends’ Facebook profiles about children bursting into tears over SATs. I want to encourage Olivia and William to achieve, but I would never want them to feel so stressed.
As they get older I know they’ll both become more aware of their bodies. Issues of body image will eventually come into play. While I had to contend with pictures of perfect model bodies in magazines during my own childhood, today’s youth are bombarded with those same images from a multitude of channels. Hopefully my children and I can face this together and I can help them navigate those difficult waters.
Encouraging mindfulness in children to protect their mental health.
Good mental wellbeing is important to help children develop resilience and thrive, but about 1 in ten children and young people are affected by mental health problems. Having had my own mental wellbeing compromised in the past, I’m keen to make sure my children have a stable and happy home life. It’s the one thing that is in my control.
Mindfulness is quite the buzzword at the moment, but it is important in helping us recognise how we think and feel. Put simply, mindfulness is about becoming more aware of the present; of the sights, sounds and thoughts we experience during any given moment.
There is lots online about mindfulness for adults, but not much about how to use this approach with children. So when Scope asked me if I’d like to try out their Mindful Monsters activity cards as a way of encouraging mindfulness in children, I thought I’d give them a go.
Scope’s Mindful Monsters activity cards are inspired by the idea of mindfulness and have been created to help children develop:
- More resilience in day-to-day life
- Improved focus
- A better understanding of emotions
- A sense of calm
- More positive thinking
There are four monsters, all of whom represent different themes: relaxation, creativity, positivity and concentration. Each of the 84 cards has its own simple and fun challenge to complete.
Olivia and William were excited to see the cards when they arrived and quickly set about inspecting them.
While my children don’t fully understand the concept of mindfulness, they do understand the four Mindful Monsters themes. They also liked the sound of the challenges on the back of each card.
The activities are suitable for kids of all ages and are relatively quick and easy to do. Some of ours included pretending you’re a cooked noodle(!), breathing like different animals, balancing on one leg and noticing new things around us while out for a walk.
Olivia, William and I took it in turns to pick a monster card. We then read out the challenge on the back and had to complete the activity on our own. Once we’d done it, the other 2 would join in.
We cleared a space in our living room to make sure we had enough room and it was so much fun.
Some of our favourite challenges were pulling our best (and funniest) monster faces and giving compliments to each other. Olivia and William even had a spontaneous cuddle – now that’s something I don’t see every day!
What we thought of the Mindful Monsters activity cards
Encouraging mindfulness in children may be what Mindful Monsters is primarily about, but what I like about these cards is that they also encourage quality family time.
With my children getting older, they increasingly want to do their own thing. They don’t need me to play with them as much any more. As their independence grows, it can be easy to become a little ‘detached’ from each other. The Mindful Monsters activity cards gave us a fun excuse to spend time being silly together. I loved it.
There are 12 packs of activity cards to collect in total. Sign up to receive them via the Mindful Monsters website and you’ll get a monthly delivery of cards for the next 12 months.
The cards do come at a cost though; after all, Scope is a charity and relies on donations to fund its work. When you sign up for the Mindful Monsters activity cards, you will need to choose whether you want to donate monthly (£7.50) or annually (£75).
Scope currently provides support and advice to more than 250,000 disabled people and their families every year. How does this link to Mindful Monsters? They believe that building resilience will help families become stronger; if families with a disabled child are strong, it will mean a better start in life for that child.