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Saturday, 27 Oct 2018

Mindfulness for Children | How to help your child with emotional distress

By Private Therapy Clinic

This video is by Tamara Licht who is a Child Psychologist at Private Therapy Clinic. In this video Tamara talks about a technique which can help children while they are in an emotional state. Mindfulness helps children to reconnect with what is happening in the here and now. Tamara Licht is also part of our child therapy service which we operate here at Private Therapy Clinic.

Video Transcript

Hi. My name is Tamara Licht. I work at Private Therapy Clinic. I’m a clinical psychologist, and one of my specialities is working with parents and children.

Some parents nowadays come to the clinic, and they want to know a little bit more “What can we do to try to help our child when they get in this what we call “emotional state?” And my advice is let’s try something that can bring them to the present time.

When a child is actually struggling and when they’re feeling angry, upset, bored or sad, what we want to try to do is to bring them to what’s happening here and now. And as parents, sometimes, we pull the magic box, and we try to calm them down by either entertaining them with food, putting the iPad on or the TV on or trying to distract them with something else but at the end of the day, what we need to do in order to get them to reconnect with us is to help them to reconnect with what’s happening here and now.

So as adults, we have heard the term “CBT” and “mindfulness” before, probably far too many times and we wonder, is that something that we can apply to our children? And the answer is totally, yes. I usually apply mindfulness when I see clients who have young children in the clinic. And I find that children engage much faster and easier in mindfulness than adults because children, by nature, have more capacity to remain in the here and now than an adult who has so many things going in their mind that they find it really difficult to stay here with us.

Simple exercises like staying with your child and asking them to find five things that are blue, seven things that are purple, five things that they can smell, seven things that they can touch that have different textures, it’s a fun exercise, something that will get your child distracted that will bring them to what’s happening right now. And most of the time, once you notice that your child is settled, you can now try to engage in a verbal conversation with them.

And I find that mindfulness becomes a way of living. So if you teach your child at a very young age to be mindful about their surroundings, about the things that they eat, about the things that they touch, about the things that they can smell, you’ll find that their emotions overall tend to regulate over time. What we tried to do in the clinic is more in terms of prevention. We want to prevent a child from becoming emotionally distressed. And the reason why your child initially might become emotionally distressed is because they are worried about something that they think will happen at some point in the future.

So again, mindfulness is definitely a technique that you can apply with children, that it’s very effective but it does require constant practice. And I think as parents, and I can totally relate to this situation, as parents, we struggle a lot with being constant at it. Children are going to challenge us. We are going to forget to do it every single day but the key here is do it when you can do it. Try to keep it as a part as their routine. In the same way you teach your children to brush your teeth, you can teach them to be mindful. And over time, this is going to benefit not only your child but the whole family system.

And for me, being in the here and now, it’s the only thing that matters. At the end of the day, your child could have been distressed because of something that already happened or something that they think will happen but by worrying about what we think will happen to them, we’re just doing the same thing that they are worried about. So again, try to be mindful when you connect with your child and help them to become mindful when they are in emotional distress.

So now that we know a little bit about mindfulness and that we know that actually mindfulness is a tool that we can apply for our children, well, what next? We’re busy, right? All of us are busy nowadays. And especially as parents, we have a lot to do and then we wonder, how can I fit this mindfulness practice to all of the  other things that I have to fit on my day to day schedule and more so to the day to day schedule that our children carry?

If we don’t really have those 15 to 20 minutes to spare on training mindfulness and doing making mindfulness a part of a constant routine, there are ways in which we can help our children to become mindful and we can model that for them. So for example, if you’re sitting in the table and you’re about to enjoy your favourite meal, you can help your child to become mindful about that meal – How does it taste? Is it too hot? Is it too cold? Is it sweet? Is it sour? So by helping our children to recognise all of their senses, we become more aware of the here and now. They enjoy more the meal, they enjoy connecting with you and talking about what’s happening, again in the here and now.

I hope that knowing a little bit about mindfulness and how this can be of help to you, your family and to your children overall has been helpful for you. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Private Therapy Clinic, and schedule your free 15-minute phone conversation if this is something of your interest and something that you would like to know more about.


For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.

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