A few weeks ago, a new word was trending – Coronacoaster. A tongue-in-cheek compound word that joins COVID-19 with Rollercoaster, it refers to the way all of us are in a haven one day – ensconced in our safe little bubbles, shining with the light of counted blessings, and fully prepared for the uncertainties of the world. The next day however, we are railing against the loss of our freedom, struggling to cope with the rapidly changing realities of a growingly constrictive world, and filled with anxiety about how we will manage the days ahead. A humorous look at the strange reality that surrounds us, yes, but surely, an apt comparison.
If that is the rollercoaster we are all on, with our full understanding of the way the world works, imagine how perplexing these shifting sands must be for our children, indeed, for children everywhere? Their daily routine has been replaced by a largely ad-hoc, anarchic reality – school has gone from a huge sprawling campus with friends, to a small computer screen with words and numbers; and things they took for granted: messy, hot days playing outside with friends, cool, lingering trips to the swimming pool, and long hours going on fantastic adventures have all been modified, or worse, cancelled.
As they grapple with these changes, and wonder without knowing how to articulate their uncertainty, let us as adults give them something to tide them through; something that they can internalize now, and reap the rewards of, for the rest of their life.
photo credit (littlepinelearners.com)
Stability: Every parent-advisor agrees, routines are what makes a child rest easy. The sameness and predictability that continues from one day to the next, assures them the world is a safe haven, and all surprises can only be good. As we strive to give them routines, let us add an important ingredient to this mix, being stable. Stability goes beyond timing every day right, to doing things that will teach a child to stand steady, and walk strong. Here’s how we can help with this:
- Start a garden: Make your little one sow a few seeds in a pot, even mustard or fenugreek seeds will do. As the plant grows and a new life comes into being in front of their eyes, their sense of wonder, and their feeling of being grounded, are strengthened. One week of steadily tending to, and caring for a flourishing life form brings an amount of stability that few other things can.
- Explore everyday: While long walks are perfect to get ourselves rooted in Nature, not all of us can take time off work to take our little ones exploring. So urge them to explore everything. Everything around them, like clocks or skies; and also everything inside them, like their own human bodies, or myriad minds. Just a question can set them down a track of absorbed self-tutoring, that distracts them from the uneven realities of the day, to root them in wonderful vistas of learning.
Serenity: This is one gift that we can never give our kids soon enough: Stillness. Especially in slightly older children, we can easily instill the value of stillness. Once a child learns to silence the storm of over-stimulation that is our world today, they will discover a lasting serenity that will shield them from the vagaries of life.
Rising early, watching the sunrise together and doing a creative, spur-of-the-moment “Good Morning Sun” dance, are all great ways to naturally imbue children with serenity. However, if your child is the kind that likes to sleep in, maybe another approach would work better. Choose a quiet spot in the late afternoon (studies show children get most restless around 3 pm, when they have exhausted their imaginations, but not their energies), seat them down and play some soothing music for 3-4 minutes. Alternatively, you can make them light a lamp and watch it for a couple of minutes. This increases their mindfulness, encouraging them to look within, take a deep breath and calm down.
These little measures go a long way to help our kids cope with over-stimulation, ennui, boredom and uncertainty. Childhood is no time to learn words like Anxiety, Worry and Fear. Let us do our part to make sure their lives, and their worlds, are happy places to live in.
Here is a short, wonderful video we can use to nurture calmness and increase mindfulness in our children:
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