I think happy thoughts


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Mindfulness activity

Here is a new activity you can try to practice your mindfulness skills. It’s fun to do by yourself or with others. Kids can even try this easy way of practicing mindfulness. The point of this activity is to practice your skills of being mindful (noticing and observing) without making judgements during the activity.

Mindfulness while eating – take a full minute to eat the raisin

1. You find a raisin (if you really dislike them pick another small item of food).

2. Take your time looking at it. Notice the texture, it’s color, the size, shape. Any physical details about the raisin.

3. Smell it without saying it’s a good or bad smell what does it smell like.

4. Place it in your mouth but do not chew it. How does it feel?

5. Slowly chew the raisin but be careful not to swallow it right away.

6. Did it change at all in flavor, texture, smell?

7. Slowly chew for the rest of the minute taking note of all your sensory input.

This exercise is very simple but can be hard. We are so used to eating without thinking. Spending a full minute on one raisin can be a great challenge and easy way to bring awareness into your eating habits as well as daily routine.

The next challenge is to try something new to do at a much slower pace than normal and find out what you discover.

 

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Toy Time-Out

Putting a toy in time out sounds silly but this is an alternative punishment for children (siblings or friends) who have trouble sharing. If you see continuous arguments over toys then you can explain to the children that if they are not able to come up with a way to get along or share the item then it will have to go to time out. Pick a spot where the toy will be put and a specified amount of time. If the children decide to share then great your job is done. If the children can’t stop fighting over the toy then you can gently explain that the toy is causing too much fighting and needs to be in time out for a while. Take the toy and quietly put it in the time out spot (preferably where the children can’t reach it). Then go about you business. Later take the toy out of time out, but if the children have moved on to a new game or are getting along you can simply add the toy back to the toy bin or other place it is usually kept. If the children want to play with it you can give a short reminder that if the toy causes too much trouble it will have to be put in time out again and the next time it will be for the rest of the day. This approach usually makes children figure out how to share the toy so that it won’t be taken again.


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Positive Parenting

How do you stay positive when your child’s behaviors are driving you crazy? This is a tough question. Every parent knows that they have had a point in their lives when they were pushed to yell, scream, or worse because they were so worn down and did not know what else to do.¬† The same cycle seems to happen over and over where your child’s emotions and your emotions get out of control. This is something that happens often but doesn’t have to.

If you take a step back and start to look at the cycle of what is triggering you and your child, you will be able to better regulate your own emotions. And you will be able to start teaching your child how to regulate his/her own emotions.  Positive parenting is about looking for ways to change the situation into a more positive one instead of continuing to punish bad behaviors. You have to start looking at the big picture and do a little detective work.

Figuring out what is triggering your child’s bad mood may not be obvious at first but look at the patterns. What time of day does it usually happen, what is your child usually doing, and who is around when it happens? These types of questions help you to get more information about the cycle of behaviors that are happening. Then you can come up with a plan to intervene earlier on before the behaviors are out of control and your child is having a tantrum and you are screaming.

It’s also important to factor in your own triggers so that you know when you are getting overwhelmed. You can get better at taking a break and then talking to your child in a more calm and rational manner. This helps the child understand what behavior you don’t like and takes away the emotional reaction to your mood.

The key to any new approach in parenting is to plan ahead, practice, and allow for mistakes. Be willing to stick with it even if you don’t see results right away. If you have been doing the same type of parenting for years then a new approach won’t change things overnight, but it will change things. Positive approaches are very effective and leave you feeling good about what you are teaching your child.