Learning the ABC's changed our family's life.
This time last year I had a revelation. It was, in the big scheme of things, a pretty mini revelation, but to me, it proved something that I had suspected for a while. I was working as a Marketing Manager for a mental health charity and had become used to hearing stories from our service users of how practising yoga or meditation had made a real difference to their mental health. In fact, after going on a few staff training workshops and remembering how much I enjoyed yoga, singing and dance, I rejoined a choir, was practicing yoga and was starting to really feel the benefits of spending time doing things that made me happy. I had started to talk to my kids about my job and the people that I had met through it, and about the different things people did to feel calm and in more control of their emotions.
Which was why when my daughter started to scream at her little brother for standing on her drawing, I immediately went into my 'don't worry, it's ok, take a deep breath' spiel. Normally this resulted in her screaming 'NO!' at me
You see, with those words, "don't worry, it's ok" I was simply brushing her massive feelings under the carpet. Instead, I acknowledge her and how she was feeling by saying, "I can see you're feeling really cross right now and I'm not surprised. It's a beautiful drawing, nobody ought to stand on it, but look it's not damaged and he didn't do it on purpose. Remember your breath." I then gave her all of my attention and consciously connected with her, and she yelled,
'I am SO cross. I hate him! I'm taking a deep breath...' and then she actually did take a deep breath, and then another and another.
After 30 seconds or so she looked over at us both and said 'I'm ok now. I was so cross. I'm going outside on the trampoline now.' And off she went to bounce in the sunshine."
Here's the ABC's broken down:
Step 1: Acknowledge where your child is emotionally, by naming the feeling. This validates them and makes them feel listened to and heard.
Step 2: Breathe with them. Deep strong breaths in through the nose and long slow breaths out through their mouths will settle the emotions bringing about a feeling of Calm.
Step 3: Connect with them. Look them in their eyes, soften your face and hold them in your heart, remembering they're little and are simply having a hard time.
Following the A B C's will help your child move through difficult feelings and situations quickly and easily. I use it every day, it's changed our lives.
I was astonished that she had been able to calm herself down without me was a revelation. That she had felt that something we had talked about helping other people, could help her and she had given it a go without prompting was a revelation. A mini revelation, but an important revelation.
At work, I had written an article about the importance of mental health literacy, and here it was in action with my daughter. That she could identify her emotions and think of a way to help herself through that feeling was a big step to her realising that she was in charge of her body and the way that she felt. After meltdowns, tantrums and grumps, with me feeling as though I was always dealing with them the wrong way, she was finding her own style of dealing with big emotions.
A year on I have now trained as a yoga teacher for pre-school kids. At Wigglebums our sessions incorporate story telling, singing, dancing and sensory play into our yoga and the emphasis is on fun. Our classes are all about strengthening communication and learning, as well as confidence, and of course healthy bodies and minds. We realise how important it is to talk about our emotions and to talk about our children's emotions. Helping children to regulate their emotions doesn't necessarily happen overnight. Science tells us that parts of the human brain critical to handling emotions aren't fully developed until we're way into our twenties, but we can take little steps to help our children when they're young to recognise their feelings. Wigglebums combines movement with mindfulness - both fantastic tools for relaxing and feeling in control of your emotions.
Wigglebums sessions are a really great way to bond, reconnect and learn more about each other and also other families in the community. Adults and children can play together, be silly together and unleash their inner animal faces! Children love being physically close to their parents and especially climbing on them - Wigglebums sessions often involve a lot of peeking through a grown ups legs or crawling over their backs!
Practicing yoga with your child can lead to a feeling of being united, energised, rejuvenated and balanced in body and mind. It also lays really good foundations for good mental health well-being in later life. If you are interested in attending a class or just finding out a little bit more about what we do have a look at https://www.wigglebums.uk or https://www.lushtums.co.uk/wigglebums/
By Jo Yates - WiggleBums & WiggleKidz Teacher