Lockdown has brought with it a precarious balancing act of responsibilities; home-schooling alongside work commitments is no easy task. With the strains of managing this balance, you may have also noticed that your child has begun to miss going to school or is craving more social time with their peers. Maybe they are lacking enthusiasm for work or you are seeing more emotional outbursts throughout the day.
Making time for simple wellness activities can enhance both your experience of the day and that of your child. Playtime can also be a fruitful time for learning. Below I have listed 3 games that can help to support the emotional wellbeing of your child.
The apple game
Encouraging children to expend some energy before starting work can help them to be less fidgety and more engaged. This game also helps you to structure when the energising phases start and end, to avoid getting them over-excited.
Start by teaching your children each apple-themed action, then get them to move between these actions by saying your instruction.
Apple core - arms stretch up
Apple crumble - slowly melt to the floor and lay down
Big apple - arms stretch out wide, make your body as big as you can!
Frozen apple - freeze like a statue
Apple seed - start as a tiny seed and grow into a big tree with swaying branches
Crab apple - pretend to be a crab moving sideways around the room, add a squat
Sliced apple - arms move out in front of you in a chopping motion as you move around the room
Apple pie - fold forwards over your legs to make a triangle shape, like a piece of pie!
You can add your own apple-themed actions, adding different emotions, sizes or movements to your apple – happy apple, evil apple, baked apple, bouncing apple, angry apple. Why not encourage your child to invent their own? You can also play this game over Zoom with friends!
This exercise helps children to become aware of the sensations they are experiencing in their bodies. When children are taught to notice these sensations in a fun way, they are better equipped to manage difficult sensations when they arise. For example, when they are experiencing heightened emotions such as anger or are upset, they will be better able to recognise where that emotion resides in their body. For example: “My jaw is clenched”, “My shoulders are high”, “My eyes are crying”.
One person sits with a piece of paper and a pen, their partner then draws a shape on their back. The person sitting down closes their eyes and draws that shape on their piece of paper. Instruct the person drawing on the paper to use their senses, noticing every stroke of the shape being drawn on their back.
- Change the theme to fruit, animals, words, or numbers
- Make it easier or harder by getting the person drawing on the paper to open one eye, or draw with their non-dominant hand
- Draw on a different body part, their foot, arm, shoulder, head, or other hand
Some children will try and guess what you are drawing instead of tuning into the sensations they are experiencing. If you notice this happening, gently move their attention back to the lines, dots, and shapes they can feel through touch.
In my online workshops, I teach many embodied activities like this one, equipping parents + educators with strategies for helping children playfully practice mindfulness. Follow me on Facebook for regular ideas and updates or take a look at my website www.thebestmedicine.co.uk.
Write your name in the air
This exercise is a fun way to learn the calming effects of the breath. When conscious breathing is practiced in a fun and engaging way, your child will find it easier to access in moments of upset or when overwhelmed.
Spell out your name using your finger in the air, when your finger moves up in a letter breath in, when your finger moves down, breath out, and when your finger moves horizontally, breath in or out in short bursts. Make the letters big and write slowly, encourage the inhalation to fill your chest and belly and your exhalation to be long and flowing. Write the letters in capitals so there’s more scope for breathing.
- To make it simpler, try drawing shapes with the breath; triangle, square and circle
- Try counting backwards from 10 to 1
- Try writing out the whole alphabet
- Try spelling out the names of your pets or friends
- If your child is struggling to spell their name, give them a visual of how each letter looks, do it together so that you can demonstrate a long inhalation and exhalation.
Katie Rose White is a Laughter Facilitator and founder of ‘The Best Medicine’. She works predominantly with carers, teachers and healthcare professionals – teaching playful strategies for boosting mood, strengthening resilience and improving wellbeing. She provides practical workshops, interactive talks and training days – fusing therapeutic laughter techniques, playful games and activities, and mindfulness-based practices. The techniques are not only designed to equip participants with tools for managing their stress, but can also be used and adapted to the needs of the people that they are supporting.