With today’s focus on the importance of ensuring good mental health for our children as well as ourselves, what better time to teach your kids the benefits of mindfulness whilst supporting disability charity Scope at the same time?
Scope’s mission is to make this country a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. They provide support, information and advice to more than a quarter of a million disabled people and their families every year, whilst raising awareness of the barriers facing disabled people and helping them build resilience in their day-to-day lives.
They have developed Mindful Monsters, a set of activity cards, which gives parents a new and exciting way to help their little ones develop important life skills through exploring mindfulness, while spending quality time together. The cards provide quick and easy mindfulness training for kids using activities parents and children can do anywhere.
What is mindfulness? The best way to describe it is as a very simple form of meditation which involves controlling your focus in order to relieve or reduce stress. By controlling what we pay attention to, we can better understand our thoughts and emotions and take positive steps to deal with them in more productive ways.
Best of all, it is something the whole family can practise together.
Research shows mindfulness in families has many benefits:
· More resilience in day-to-day life
· Improved focus
· Better understanding of their emotions
· A sense of calm
· More positive thinking – promoting kindness and gratitude
The cards are brilliant to have on hand to whip out when a tantrum threatens (adult or child!) to help take a moment and change focus – to get everybody back on track without an emotional maelstrom!
As parents and carers know, children often struggle to understand their emotions – which affects both their behaviour and that of the adults around them. Mindful Monsters are a great way of calming everybody down.
It’s a far healthier approach, too than resorting to sugary snacks and other forms of food-related bribery.
There are 4 Mindful Monsters who each offer a slightly different type of activity.
Each monster offers a range of activities in their particular area – so Snug may ask you to concentrate on your breath by seeing if you can breathe like a snake, or a whale (tricky that one). Giggles might ask you to pay someone a compliment and see how good that makes you feel. Thinky suggests going for a walk to somewhere you know well and spotting three new things, whilst Sparky might get you to pull your scariest monster face opposite someone else without laughing.
Each activity is well thought out and fun and would work with any age. The Husband reports that pulling monster faces was the icebreaker activity at a recent conference. (Who says IT people don’t have a sense of fun …..).
Caitlin (9) and Ieuan (8) both thought the cards were fun although I think it helps to have had a conversation about mindfulness with your kids first – and if you can embrace it as a family so much the better. Otherwise, it’s a little ‘left field’ to ask a grumpy 8-year-old to stand on one leg when you’ve just upset him (again) by restricting his access to Roblox.
As a form of mindfulness training for kids, though, I think the cards work really well and are brilliant for throwing in a bag to take out and about with you. They’re a great way of managing tantrums and meltdowns without you getting stressed because you’ve raised your voice again.
To get the cards, you need to sign up and donate just £7.50 monthly (postage is included). Then you’ll receive your starter pack for the first month, and then extra cards and a newsletter each month following that with more activities from the Mindful Monsters.
The welcome pack (which fits easily through your letterbox) contains an introductory booklet, some fun stickers and your first 7 monster cards. There are 84 cards to collect in total so if you pay monthly, the total you’ll pay will be £90. You can cancel at any time.
You can also sign up to pay annually for £75, giving you two months free. There is no obligation to continue to donate once the year is up.
The cards are of a decent thickness to withstand lots of use and feature the appropriate monster on the front together with a reminder of the particular focus – e.g. creativity.
You can make the most of your donation by gift-aiding it to allow Scope to claim another 25% from the Government and 70p in the pound goes towards supporting disabled people and their families.
I think this is a really creative scheme which gives a little extra to donors and builds a long-term relationship with them.
So do your bit and seek out a little extra calm with the Mindful Monsters.