This week I made flexing your inner smile the theme of my first ever Summer Club in the park. I came to the conclusion that it’s about feeling happy on the inside which affects how you see yourself and the world around you.
Where is your inner smile?
Luckily the kids loved this idea. A slight variation on grown up version which I posted in my recent blog ‘How to Have an Ever Lasting Smile from the inside out!’
They told me what makes them smile on the outside: friends, presents, cuddles, family, being able to do what they want to do without grown ups (!). Then with a few Smiley Thought Cards, some light meditation, imagination and yoga we located our inner Smile.
Some said it was in their head, others in their heart and one little girl found it in her shoulder.
As the week went on, I watched 30 children come and go, and even though we lost a day to our funky British weather, I really enjoyed spending time with them. There’s something inspiring about seeing others having fun. And this is what they call a job?!
The circle was affected by the children in it and their energy. It was also affected by my mood and the activity going on around us: so many nosey sniffing dogs! One day, we moved to escape some noisy building works and were closer to the main drag. The swings and slides were in full view, so that didn’t work as well.
How does this translate to parenting? Think about how the energy is affected in your family and your home when there is:
- a major life event
- any type of change from the usual routine
- sleep deprivation
- too much sugar
- too much screen time
- yelling and conflict
- lack of routine
- over scheduling
- and so on…you get the picture
Your child feeds off your energy
Think about this when you are helping them with their mads, bads or sads. Think about the environment you are creating while they wrestle with their feelings.
- Can you park your stuff or stay calm?
- Can you explain to them in age appropriate language why you are not yourself at this time and reassure them?
- Can you structure more routine?
- Can you cut out some activities and increase down time?
- Can you put boundaries on screen time?
One day we had more boys than girls and I was worried that they would be more high energy. I was wrong. So take note parents that you don’t project your fearful energy onto a situation or perceived problem.
I also noticed when one child was resistant and didn’t want to participate, you could feel a shift in the other children. Not to mention my frustration added into the mix. Children are great mimics. We would go around the circle sharing and they would all copy each other. I didn’t want to spend all my time asking them to pay attention and correcting them. This is why we need the next one….
The circle was a special place for peace and quiet. I respectfully communicated this boundary and constantly reminded the children of this while their enthusiasm and excitement got the better of them. They live in the moment you see.
It was my job to hold us all safely in the circle so that everybody was getting what they needed. Children need boundaries so they are clear about what is and what isn’t allowed. Sometimes it’s good to sit down and have a family meeting or write a family manifesto entitled ‘In this house we……’ so that everybody is clear about what is expected of them.
Usually a child who is being disruptive has something going on for them (a big scary emotion) and if I’m a loving presence for that, then usually it will shake itself out. Which brings me onto….
Sensitivity is a Super Power!
Never under estimate how sensitive children of all ages are. They absorb a lot of what is going on around them and are highly intuitive. It’s our job to train them to listen to their feelings.
It’s important to get children to go within and notice what feels right for them instead of using reward charts or bribes to motivate them or even doing it for them (which I know we are all prone to doing when the clock is against us). If motivation comes from feeling good, they will always be tuned into that and know what is right for them.
Watch the video to see this little boy find the hidden crystal using his intuition.
Edit: I used this experience in my book ‘Stuck Between Two Worlds’ not just because it’s so much fun, but because it helps the children trust themselves and listen to their intuition. The book is full of them and it’s a fun way for children to learn.
Feeling Vulnerable – Needing Protection
When the children were invited to relax, they rolled onto their tummies. They had a choice to lie on their backs and watch the clouds. Lying in Corpse Pose; on your back with your arms and legs falling away from you, feels vulnerable. I watched some of them wrap themselves in their blankets or put their hands on their tummies. This happens in coaching when children feel afraid or sad: they hold a cushion over their solar plexus for protection.
I teach the Wild Hearts (strong-willed sensitive children) to protect their energy from unkind people by putting on their invisible power suit or putting themselves in a protective bubble.
Wriggles and Giggles
A lot of the time the children were having fun and were full of high energy .We lay in child pose or used meditation to breathe deeply from our tummies. When emotions are running high, it helps to bring the energy down by:
- checking your own breathing
- lowering your tone of voice
- getting down on the floor (so you are lower than your child if you can)
- grounding yourself and being in the present moment
We popped bubbles to release anything that was making us mad, sad or feel bad. It is also very grounding for children to be out in nature or to run around on the soft grass with their bare feet.
Watch them go crazy in this video!
They were all invited to choose a Smiley Thought Card and then they had to run towards me repeating it in a whisper and then at the tops of their voices. I was bombarded with positive affirmations. Wonderful!