When we think of mindfulness we most often think about ourselves and learning how to be more mindful. But what if we could help our kids to become more mindful and help reduce their anxiety? This week we’re talking to Cynthia Arscott who’s giving us a crash course in helping our kids to be more mindful!
Mindfulness isn’t just thinking about how our actions impact other people, it’s also thinking about how actions and thoughts impact ourselves. We all deal wit planted thoughts and being stuck on autopilot everyday, but there are ways that we can combat this and stay more present in our lives. For our kids, this also means helping them to stay grounded, especially when they’re experiencing some of those big emotions or stressors that kids tend to face.
In this episode we’re covering how to help our kids be mindful, using breathing exercises and affirmations (and making them kid-friendly), and how we can all use mindfulness to be more present in our own lives. This episode flew by and Cynthia gave so many great ways that we can be more mindful without adding a billion more things to our to-do list. Don’t miss out on this episode and head over to the UM Club Facebook Group after to discuss your thoughts with us!
If you’re wanting to read and listen to all our exclusive episodes, join the UM Club! Every week has new and exciting guest speakers and topics, and we also host workshops every month!
Mindfulness for Kids: How to Help Anxiety in Kids and Support Mindfulness
Understanding the Why Behind Kids Behaviour with Child Behaviourist Mariko Fairly
Parenting Spirited Kids with Progressive Parenting Experts Hannah and Kelty of Upbringing
Supporting Your Child’s Socialization Skills with Child Behaviourist Mariko Fairly
How to Talk to Kids About Death and Illness with Michelle McVittie
Anxiety 101 with Mary Tate from Tate Psychotherapy
Cynthia is a Certified Mindfulness & Meditation Teacher and the founder of Goldminds, teaching kids programs in schools and online throughout North America. She started Goldminds to teach kids what her 7-year-old self needed: tools to self-regulate when emotions get too big, strategies to build resilience and ways to build deep self-confidence roots. She is passionate about teaching mindfulness to children at an early age to support their mental health and properly equip them with the tools they need to confidently manage their minds as they grow up!
In This Episode We Talk About
01:08 – Who is Cynthia?
05:15 – What does mindfulness look like for kids?
09:52 – Our nervous system and how it works.
12:58 – How can we teach mindfulness to our kids?
22:49 – A walkthrough of how to help our kids with mindfulness.
27:14 – What are planted thoughts?
31:48 – Using affirmations with our kids.
38:06 – Where to find Cynthia and final thoughts!
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UM Club Facebook page
Weekly Class Schedule
Club Gold Minds
Parent and Child Mindfulness Program
Cynthia’s Instagram: @GoldMindsClass
Read the Full Conversation
Hello, and welcome to another episode inside the Unapologetic Moms Club. Today I am happy to be chatting with Cynthia Arscott from GoldMinds about teaching our kids mindfulness so they can have a little bit better self-regulation and help them cope with all those big feelings. So, welcome to UM Club Cynthia, happy to have you here.
Thank you so much. I’m happy to be here.
Yeah, mindfulness is something we hear a lot about for ourselves, I’ve been hearing a little bit more about bringing it to kids. And so I’m really interested in learning more about it and how we can help our kids because we know they can deal with a lot of big emotions. And my kids are four-and-a-half and almost three now. So those emotions come up. And I do try to teach them kind of different breathing things but I do feel like I’m missing the mark. So it’ll be interesting to hear your side of things.
Yeah, absolutely. I’m excited to share a couple of tips and tricks, and some of the things that have worked really well for me and teaching kids mindfulness.
Oh, fantastic. So let’s hear a little bit more about who you are, what you do, and why you are so passionate about it?
Yeah, absolutely. So my name is Cynthia Arscott, as you said, I’m the founder and a teacher at GoldMinds. And what I do is I teach mindfulness classes to kids that are designed to help them improve their self-regulation, their resilience, and build their self-confidence.
So the reason I started GoldMinds is from discovering anxiety of my own as an adult and beginning to realize that this anxiety actually stemmed from when I was a child. And it’s just lived with me into my adult years, and really figuring out now that I want to get to the bottom, the root cause, of why I feel this way, and I want to help kids as well.
So this is what really led me to mindfulness and meditation. I started practicing it on my own. And I found that it was really the only thing that brought me back to myself and allowed me to find calm. I’ve done it all, I’ve done, you know, the therapy, the meditation, I’ve done all the work, a lot of the work – it’s never-ending, it seems like. But I’ve done a lot of work on myself. And I really wanted to learn how to teach meditation and mindfulness to kids. So I got certified to teach it. And I’ve been doing this now for about two years, teaching kids virtually online throughout the pandemic, and also in-person programs in schools.
Oh, nice. Yeah, you started right at the beginning of the pandemic with all this.
Yeah, I had started right before just testing the waters in a couple of schools. And then everything went virtual and shut down. So then I started teaching some virtual classes and tested that out. And yeah, I found a really impactful way to teach kids online.
That’s fantastic. I’m curious, I think a lot of people would often, in a similar situation, kind of doing all that self-work, wanting to help other people, tend to choose like to help other adults and other people around kind of similar ages or older. What was your push to really focus on children? I know you said some stuff stemed back to your childhood.
Yeah, seeing as a lot of it stemmed from my childhood, I kind of took a look at the meditation and mindfulness world, and realized that a lot of it was targeted towards adults. Which is amazing, adults need it too, we need to go back and unlearn and reprogram. But I really wanted to get to the root, I really wanted to help little seven-year-old Cynthia who needed something when she was feeling anxious.
So I take a look back and I think of how anxious I was as a child. Nobody knew about it, right? Everyone is just like “oh, she’s just a little bit worried.” But meanwhile, you know, I didn’t want to go to dance, because people were mean, so I’d fake a stomachache. And you know, did anybody ever know that I had anxiety from that? No.
So I wanted to be able to provide kids with the tools that they need, because, you know, yes, parents can learn them, but kids can too. And kids absorb things like a sponge. There’s a reason why we teach kids, you know, second and third languages when they’re super little, because they absorb it so quickly. And mindfulness and meditation is no different. It’s something that they can, depending on the approach, find fun, they can find really interesting. And it can be something they have in their toolbox, starting when they’re super little, and then carry it with them into adulthood. And that’s what I wish I had when I was a child. So that’s why I chose to focus on kids.
I love that, that gave me a little bit of goosebumps thinking about like little Cynthia and our own little kids and how we’re always trying to be helpful, lead by example, know what’s going on with our kids. But it’s so true that we don’t necessarily know everything. We don’t know what’s going on in their mind, they might not necessarily have the skills or tools to even communicate it with us. And so this is such a great way that we can help them help themselves with these different kinds of tools.
So what does mindfulness look like for children? How is it different from the different kind of meditations and things like that, that we hear about for adults?
So mindfulness in its most basic form is really just getting a person into the present moment, which just means that, you know, we’re not thinking about the future, the what-ifs, which put us into anxious states. And we’re not thinking about the past, or reminiscing, which can put us into depressive states. We are somewhere in the middle, and we don’t stay there for very long. As humans, we jump around all the time, but it’s finding that time to be present. And so how can we do that for kids?
For adults, of course – it’s difficult for adults too, I wouldn’t say it’s easy for an adult because we have so many judgments and biases as adults. “I’m not going to sit there and sit still, I can’t sit still, my brain goes everywhere.” And the purpose of mindfulness meditation isn’t to just shut off your brain, it’s more so to tune in to what’s going on so that you can better understand yourself.
And so for kids, specifically, what that looks like is very kid-friendly, bite-sized activities. And so for kids, that could look like themed deep breathing, so if your child loves dragons, let’s try some dragon breaths. If your child loves unicorns, let’s try unicorn breaths. Finding something that really resonates with the child. And also doing those things in a time of calm, as opposed to a time of stress. So, you know, teaching this to your child, and maybe doing it before bed every single night, talking about why it’s a good idea to take these deep breaths. I always tell kids, it sends a magic signal to your bodies, that they can feel calm and safe again. And really explaining it to them in a way that makes sense to a kid, right? “This is gonna help you feel calm, this is gonna help you feel peaceful,” easy words that they understand.
And then also trying to incorporate it into your day-to-day routine, so that it doesn’t feel like another thing, right? Because there’s so many things that people are going to tell you to do with your kids. There’s a lot of information out there. So how can you make this something that’s just really easy, that kind of squeaks into the daily routine, so that it doesn’t feel like an add on, it just feels like it flows. Like I said, the before bed deep breaths, a very easy way to incorporate deep breathing. You know, having some sort of guided meditation before bed. That’s very helpful as well.
So a guided meditation is really just a story that you read really slowly, and encourage deep breaths in between. So the kids love them because it’s storytime but it’s also really winding them down and calming their nervous system. So that’s some of the ways that I try to incorporate it with kids. But really, the key is kid-friendly, bite-sized, add into your day-to-day routine. Don’t try to complicate it.
All that sounds perfect for busy mom life and helping your kids, right? Like you’ve touched on it can be difficult to think of adding on yet another thing, which I’d say is probably why I personally haven’t done a ton of research in the area. I am someone who tries to be mindful. I’ve attempted to teach our kids deep breathing when they’re upset. So that’s probably part of the sticking point, like you touched on, it’s teaching these moments at calm and incorporating it into the routine that makes it seem a lot more doable than like, “oh, another thing that we need to add on and teach.”
Yeah, absolutely. And really, the biggest thing too is that you’re giving your child this gift of understanding who they are, and allowing them to properly process those feelings and emotions. Right? A lot of us probably grew up feeling like our emotions were too big for our parents, right? Shut down, go to your room, stop crying, you’re okay. All things that a lot of us are told, you know, with parents who did the best that they could with the information they knew.
But now we know there’s a lot of evidence that it’s important for kids to express themselves. It’s important for them to feel safe and connected and heard. And with mindfulness, you allow them that outlet. Not only is it taking deep breaths and calming the nervous system, you might be labeling their feelings. Pick a color from the rainbow that represents how you feel today. And it just allows parents to have deeper connection and deeper conversation with their children about how they’re feeling and it really helps you to understand them and learn more.
So many benefits really, when you put it that way. Could you explain a little bit more about the kids’ nervous system and what they might be at in a state of anxiousness or fear, depression, and then how doing these kinds of activities affects the nervous system and allows them to calm down?
Yeah, definitely. So if you think about when we were, you know, evolution wise, when we were all cave men and women back in the day, and there was a saber-toothed tiger that was coming around the corner, you automatically would jump into fight or flight mode, which is a stress response. And automatically when that happens, your body releases all kinds of different hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, dangerous ones that shouldn’t be running through your body for too long.
And when that happens, your body’s in a complete state of stress. And all of your blood flows to your skeletal muscle, like your hands, ready to fight, your feet, ready to run. And that’s the state of stress, that’s fight or flight mode. That’s what happened, you know, years and years and years ago. But now to this day, that fight or flight mode is what kids are getting into right before standing up in front of their class, or when they’re starting their first day of school. They’re getting that fight or flight mode all the time. And so are we as adults, it’s everywhere. That’s our body’s natural response to stress, unfortunately.
But prolonged states of stress lead to things like chronic anxiety, depression, bodily illness, all kinds of different health problems. And that’s why it’s so important to rid our bodies of those kinds of things like adrenaline and cortisol. And the way that we do that is through practicing things like deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation, which activates something called our parasympathetic nervous system, which is our rest and digest mode.
And the rest and digest mode is the optimal state that we, of course, would love to be in all the time, it’s obviously not always possible. But that’s where we want to be. And that happens when we take slow, deep breaths, that happens when we practice mindfulness, that happens when we sit still and listen to music and tune into our bodies. And that’s what we want to encourage kids to know how to do. We want them to be able to rid their bodies of the cortisol and the adrenaline, and introduce their body to a state of calm and ease.
Yeah, it’s so interesting. We’ve touched on the nervous system in a few other previous episodes around hormone health and anxiety. And say, hormone health, when we’re constantly in that stress state, and have all the cortisol and things pumping through your body, it just throws everything so out of whack. And it can really be that chain reaction, and your health and your mental health kind of going up down into a downslope. And so it’s so important to have these sorts of tools for mindfulness and different lifestyle habits as well to help our nervous system be in that more parasympathetic state. Is that how you say it?
So what are some different ways that we can teach mindfulness to our kids? I’d love to hear about that bedtime story one, and I’m sure you have some other helpful tips in your pocket, too.
Yeah, the bedtime story is just an easy one because for a lot of people that’s already incorporated in your day-to-day routine. So having a bedtime story, I call at the end of every class that I teach, we do a storytime, it’s a guided meditation, where we get the kids to lay down, get them to grab a pillow, grab their favourite stuffed animal, just get them into the most comfortable position possible.
And they get all excited about that, they grab their favourite stuffies and blankets and pillows. And then reading them a story that is essentially just a very slowed down version. You could, for parents at home, you could use any book that you have. Or you could go online, you could download the Insight Timer app, it’s a free app that I love to use, as well, they’ve got some meditations on there.
And you can use those guided meditations, maybe you don’t want to read them yourself because you’re not so comfortable reading them and it feels awkward to read slowly and calmly to your child. That’s okay. There are 1000s of pre-recorded ones for kids specifically that have lovely music in the background and really just activate that parasympathetic nervous system right before bed, which helps your child to fall asleep.
And as a lot of parents might experience there can be a lot of anxiety before bed for kids. I was a very anxious kid before bed, I had a very hard time sleeping, I was always scared. And this is something that would have really helped to, you know, take your mind out of that place of anxiety and allow your imagination to flow, allow you to listen to a story and take deep breaths that helped to activate that calm. So that’s one thing I would say is the guided meditations are a really a good example.
The other thing that I would recommend just as something to bring into your everyday life that’s very simple is mealtime mindfulness or nature walk mindfulness. So bringing these into everyday activities that you’re already doing. So mealtime mindfulness would just mean that, you know, you’re sitting around the table, you’re eating dinner together, and you start to talk about your five senses in relation to the meal that you’re eating. Okay, let me turn it into a bit of a game, there’s a game called “I’m from Mars,” and you all pretend that you are aliens, you’ve never ever seen or eaten this food before. How would you describe it?
And so an example would be with popcorn, right? So take a look at the popcorn, what do you see? What do you smell, what do you taste, hear, feel, etc. And starting to talk about the textures, you know, the tastes, all of that. That’s a really easy way to get kids engaged in the present moment. Because at the end of the day, we want them to be thinking about the fact that they’re eating popcorn, not about what they’re going to do at school tomorrow, and not about what they did yesterday. So bringing that presence. And the same can be done on a nature walk, the exact same five senses activity.
So those are really easy ways to bring it into your life. And then along with that, the kid-friendly deep breaths. Again, teaching those in a time of calm so that when times of stress arise, it’s not new to them. And they’re not necessarily fighting you on giving these breaths, but finding one that they really resonate with. I find, for example, a lot of kids – I do birthday candle breaths. So hold up the number of fingers that represents how old you are, the kids love to tell you how old they are. So they’re like, “I’m four,” and then they’ve got four candles, and then you individually inhale, exhale to blow out each of them. Like they’re four separate birthday candles, things like that. Kids love to do the visual, when they’re more visual like that.
You’re so great. Like, this is obviously what you do. But I love how you incorporate all of these fun, different parts into it, like the kind of alien Martian perspective to make mealtimes fun and can even do that for nature. Yeah, that’s definitely a piece that I’ve been missing so you have my wheels turning. My son loves transformers and superheroes and things like that. So maybe like the superhero freeze breath might be a good kind of option instead of “let’s take a deep breath” followed by “I don’t want to take a deep breath Mommy.”
Yeah, definitely. And, you know, you can kind of make your own up, you can also Google – for example, I’ve done superhero deep breaths where you kind of like inhale, exhale, and like pretend like you’re a superhero. It’s so silly but kids love it. You can just Google and there’s probably a YouTube video around the kind of deep breath that relates best to your child. And if that’s what relates best to them, they’re way more likely to do it than something they don’t enjoy.
Absolutely. That’s like so much with, like, preventing tantrums, which has been another topic that we had on here recently. And it’s finding fun ways to do things especially during those transition times. So one thing that I’ve started doing, because after kids sleepovers, they might not necessarily want to get in the van and get buckled up and then leave that place. So it’s like, “okay, what’s something fun and out of the box we can do.” Let’s just race to the van. And then now it’s a smooth process. And so when we’re able to take that step back, think about things from their perspective, and how we can make it fun for them. It resonates so much more and becomes more effective for them.
Definitely, it’s an easier way to communicate with them and to get on their level and what would resonate best with them. How can we gamify this? How can we add some levity to this so that they feel like it’s for them?
What’s the last word you said? Levity?
Levity. Yeah, some levity, so that it’s nice and light-hearted. And they laugh at what you’re saying, or they laugh while they’re doing it as opposed to fighting it.
Yes, absolutely. And thinking about kind of the bedtime, how you’re saying how it can be a very anxious time, that relates so much with adults too. I hear so much from our community, how they’re lying in bed, and that’s when all of the thoughts from the day can start to creep up. And did I do this right? Does this need to be done? And all those different worries. And so if we’re able to, again, take that step back and notice our kids might be struggling in some sort of area and it might look different, but we can kind of relate it back to have it make sense. Oh, yeah, I go through this in a different kind of way. And we can use some sort of tools to help each other.
Yeah, exactly. And I think just based on what you just said as well, it does happen to parents. And it’s important for parents, I think, to also tell kids that, right, like share with them this happens to me too. Because I think a lot of the time kids feel very alone. I look back, and I literally thought that whatever was happening was only happening to me. And I think that’s, of course, also just a part of the developing brain, you’re very self-centred, not in a negative way, but you’re very self-centred, you only know you, right? Up to a certain age. And so I think I always felt like it was just me.
And so I think now like, you know, parents who are having trouble with anything, self-regulation as well, because that happens, you know, kids are screaming and you’re just like, “oh, my goodness, I need a moment.” Have them watch you take deep breaths, have them watch you practice your own version of deep breathing. Or say to them, “I just need to take three deep breaths right now, because I’m feeling a little bit upset,” right? Like, there’s no harm in that. And then the child thinks, my mom takes deep breaths when she’s upset. So I guess it’s normal if I take deep breaths when I’m upset, too. And then same thing for sleep. That’s exactly what’s gonna put a parent to sleep as well. So you know, how can you find ways to model that behavior so that your child recognizes it as normal?
Yeah, I love that you touched on that and making them feel not alone. And I’d also say an important piece of that is not diminishing feelings or questions. Because sometimes, different events can come up. Say one thing that comes to mind is another episode we did around talking to kids about death and illness. And so that can relate a lot to the anxiousness and that when these things happen, they’re going to have questions, they’re going to have thoughts. And so as parents, we can step into the role to really help them through that, because no matter what they’re going to keep thinking about those things, even if we tell them “oh, you don’t need to worry about it.” And I think for like many generations, the mindset has been like that’s an adult thing you don’t need to worry about. And so it kind of diminishes and perpetuates that loneliness feeling, going through those different anxious thought spirals. And so when we’re able to validate them, let them know they’re not alone, answer their questions and kind of walk them through things, we’re able to better equip them with those tools.
Yeah, absolutely. It’s so important for kids to feel heard and like their feelings aren’t abnormal. And, yeah, there’s so much to that piece. But I think it can be definitely brought into how you teach your child mindfulness as well, because it just allows them to feel like how they feel is okay, their feelings aren’t too big for you, and you know exactly how to handle them. Right? You are that leader in their lives that can handle it. And you know how to direct them in the right direction.
Absolutely. I’d love to hear, if you’re open to it, kind of walking through an example of ways we can help incorporate mindfulness to help our children through those situations. So say, for example, one of our kids is getting ready to go to preschool or kindergarten for the first time, and they’re feeling really nervous and anxious about that. What are some different helpful ways that we can kind of help alleviate that anxiety and support them?
So of course what you said, you know, validating their feelings of course, allowing them to feel like that’s normal. And you know, talking about that in advance of school happening. So how do you think that you might be feeling when you go to school, what do you think the first day is going to be like, and, you know, prompting them and trying to get those feelings out of them early. And then equipping them with some tools that they can use when they actually get there like, “okay, anytime that you’re feeling a little bit anxious, remember what we practice” and give them some sort of tool.
So there’s a couple things, like the deep breaths are easy. Another thing I like to do is I get kids to pinch their fingers, it just kind of grounds them and makes them feel a little bit less anxious. And they usually give an affirmation that they can say across all five fingers. So one example might be, “I am okay,” big breath. And something like that. Or like “I am safe, I am brave,” and just kind of get them to like repeat that. I find that pinching your fingers is just a really nice grounding technique and kind of brings you back to the present and helps to alleviate some of that anxiety. So that would be a tool. That’s something that I teach kids a lot in classes to do anytime they want. They can do it under their desks, nobody can see them, right? Nobody ever has to see that you’re doing this, you can just do it in your head, and give them a little tool like that for when they are feeling moments of anxiety.
And then also, you know, like teaching them if you ever feel this way you can always tell a teacher, you can always tell me, just making them feel like they’re not alone. Like they can express themselves outwardly to anyone around them and it’s a totally valid feeling.
Mm hmm. That’s such a good piece, too, is that you can talk to the teacher and maybe identifying those people when you’re not there because they do tend to know that we can be an okay person, but to help them have more confidence when they’re away for us to identify those people for them. That’s a really great tip.
And I love how you brought the physical stimulation into it as well, I guess you can’t see with that camera, but I was doing it as well. And that’s something we touched on in our anxiety episode is she had recommended, if you’re feeling really anxious, to kind of hold a cold glass of water. Like say you’re in a social situation having that social anxiety, to hold it and focus on that cold sensation, and the different stimulus can help ground you. And so that’s such a great way to make it kind of kid-friendly, and we can even use it for ourselves.
Yeah, I use it all the time. I kind of just like pinch my fingers and like repeat some sort of affirmations to myself. And it really, I mean, I didn’t even touch really on affirmations. But affirmations are another really easy way to change your mindset. Because our brains don’t really know the difference between a real thought and a planted thought. So I like to plant thoughts in my head all the time that are different than the ones I’m actually thinking. You know, and that just helps you to move forward, it helps you to stop living in that place of anxiety, maybe you’re stuck in a downward spiral and you can’t get out of it. One of the best things is planting new thoughts in your head. And it goes the same for kids.
That’s why people talk about affirmations so much. And you see those kids in the mirror, you know, all over Instagram and Tiktok reciting these affirmations and it looks all fine and dandy, but the reason for it is because you’re planting those thoughts in their heads, and it makes them feel good. And it makes adults feel good. It makes you feel good to say those things out loud, it makes you feel more confident, makes you feel stronger. And that’s why those are also another way to help, you know, mitigate anxiety as well.
Absolutely. Let’s dig into that a little bit more. You had mentioned that our mind doesn’t know the difference between like our own thought and a planted thought, could you go into that a bit more?
Yeah. So you know, we’ve got our conscious mind, we’ve got our subconscious mind. And our subconscious mind is that mind that makes the coffee in the morning, gets you out of bed, puts you in the shower – you don’t even think about it, you just do it. And that subconscious mind has been trained over your entire life. And that represents about 95% of your thoughts. That’s a lot, a lot of the time you’re on autopilot, you’re just kind of like doing the things, going through the motions.
Your thoughts are also on autopilot; “oh, I’m not good at this,” or “I’m not good at math,” or “I always mess this one thing up.” And it’s really important to bring awareness or consciousness to your thoughts, into what you do. But it’s really difficult for a lot of people. You know, like I said before, when you’re eating popcorn, and you’re thinking about the fact that you’re eating popcorn, you’re not thinking about tomorrow, or the day before. You’re very present, and you’re aware that you’re eating popcorn, that’s consciousness, that’s presence. And that’s the state that we want to try to be in or to train ourselves to be in as much as possible. It’s not easy. It took me a long time to become very conscious.
But how can we use that 5% to our advantage? And how can we plant new thoughts into our brains so that we’re not just running in that subconscious mode all the time, because it’s not always the healthiest place to be, our brains are meant to protect us. And so what I mean by that is if you have a million things to do in a day, and you know, your brain is going to try to keep all of them really close to you and overwhelm you. Because it’s trying to protect you. And it feels like if you keep those thoughts close, you’ll get all those things done, and you’ll never forget them and you’ll be all good. But really what it does is it makes you overwhelmed and anxious.
So how can we take control of our brains a little bit better? How can we plant good thoughts into our brains? How can we become really aware of those negative thoughts that we have? And how can we take ourselves out of autopilot and into conscious mode or present mode? And it takes a lot of practice and took me a couple of years to figure it out. And now I feel confident – I can’t do it all the time. I still obviously like everybody go into autopilot mode, butit becomes easier and easier every day that you practice to get more conscious.
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve kind of used a framework throughout my life in different ways that kind of started as a young teenager struggling with anxiousness and depression, negative thoughts spirals, and that first thing is I’m going to try and catch myself having the thoughts. Because that can be the first piece that’s really hard when you’re used to being in that subconscious level all the time, your first goal can just be to catch yourself when you’re doing it, and kind of acknowledge it. And then to try and reframe that thought. And so what’s a different way we can put this and, like you said, planting those seeds for those more conscious thoughts. And then slowly that starts to get more automatic. And then your brain starts to essentially reprogram into those newer thoughts.
Yeah, exactly on what you’re saying. One thing that I’ll ask myself is, “how do I know this to be true?” And then, in my mind, I’m like, if – for example, I’m bad at math. I’m just using that as an example because I used it last night in a class with kids. I’m bad at math. It’s something I used to think when I was little. How do I know that to be true? Am I failing math? No. Am I doing really bad or did somebody tell me I’m bad at math? No. I just don’t like math and I’m associating it with negative thoughts and feelings.
And so how can you work backwards in that, how do you even know that to be true? Question your thoughts. Because we think that our thoughts are correct, but they aren’t. Most of the time, our thoughts are not correct, they’re just random. They are ways that we are experiencing the world around us. And it’s the way that our brain is deciding to shape the experience in front of us, but it’s not necessarily true.
I love that, that’s a great anchoring statement. “How do I know this to be true?” I’m gonna use that.
It’s a good one.
What are different ways that we can use affirmations and things like that with our kids?
So I would recommend using them during – again, during times of calm so that they can be used during times of stress as well. But they can be used anytime, they can be used when you’re on a walk, and somebody’s complaining or tired. You know, maybe you have one that you all like that rhymes or something. So, at the beginning of my classes we have a set of affirmations and they all rhyme. So the kids are constantly reciting them at home and the parents are like, “oh, this is awesome.” It’s because they rhyme, so the kids remember them. And it turns into a bit of a song almost.
And so if you can have things like that in your back pocket that you can pull out, that would be a nice way to do it. Or it can be something that you do, you know, once a day, maybe mornings is your time, or maybe nighttime is your time. Nighttime – who knows, morning seems very hectic. But nighttime might be an easier time in your household where you can have, you know, five affirmations that you repeat together before bed every day, and it becomes a bit of a ritual. And then it can be something that you repeat again in hard times. So I am confident, I am brave, I’m strong and kind, I can do anything. Things like that.
I mean, I as an adult use these now all the time. I just told you, I was going on a bit of a walk. And at 37 weeks pregnant, it’s very difficult to walk for long periods of time. And I was literally saying affirmations in my head. I had like – I don’t live very far from where I was walking from. But I kind of started to feel a bit grumpy. And I was like, Oh, this is uncomfortable. And so I just started saying to myself, I was like, “I am strong, I can do this. I’m almost home, I am strong, I am confident.” I just kept doing it.
And it actually changed my mood around and I was like, okay, this is good. I just planted some new thoughts in my head and made it home. As opposed to being miserable the entire time I was walking. So that’s just a little silly example that just happened to me about an hour ago. But it’s what you can do for anything in your life. It’s what you can do for any moment in your child’s life as well as well as your own as the parent.
Yeah, you got my wheels turning. Because I’ve started to, over the last few months, when I get ready and I’m putting on my motion moisturizer. I have started doing different affirmations for myself. But I genuinely do them in my head in thought. But my kids are also normally around when I’m getting ready in the morning. And so that would be a great way for me to lead by example and actually see those things out loud. And my daughter loves getting ready right after I get ready, and that’s something we can do together after she puts on her outfit because she has her own style and she’s like very adamant about what she does. And teaching body positivity and confidence is something that’s really important to me and that’s something we could definitely do, is kind of I can lead by example and then she could have her turn doing that in the morning before we set off in our day.
Exactly, and associating it with something that you’re doing as you get ready. So I actually do the same thing as you, I do it when I’m putting on – my cue is face cream. For some reason for me every night before bed, I’ll be putting my night cream on and I’ll say some affirmations to myself. And it’s triggered by the cream. I don’t know why I just created this association in my head with every time I put on face cream, I’m going to say some affirmations to myself. And you can do that with your kids as well, every time – I was gonna say brush your teeth but it’s hard to talk. But brushing your hair, or when you put your clothes on, you have a little, you know, a couple of affirmations that you say and it’s a trigger.
It takes time, obviously, to get into the habit. But you’ll get triggered to say the thing when they’re brushing their hair, or you’re brushing their hair, and they will too. And then eventually, it’ll just be something really fun that you both say together as you’re getting ready and it becomes a lot easier. It’s just in the routine now, it’s just in the daily routine.
Yeah, totally, and can definitely feel, like you touched on, that it can be kind of clunky at first and kind of awkward at first. But as you go through it, it just becomes such a ritual. Another area that I’ve started doing it personally, as I found when I was coming into these interviews, actually, it was such a rush before I sat down and I felt like I was bringing just kind of this hectic presence and I wasn’t able to like really focus in the same way. And so my cue is I have this little roller here. And just five minutes before I sit down, I put it on my wrist. And I breath it in. And just that triggers my brain. And at first I’m like, “oh, I’m so hectic. How can I fix this?” And so I thought of one thing that can be my cue, brought in some different kinds of affirmations. And now it’s a ritual. And it helps so much and it’s become automatic, it just can be a little bit clunky at first, but sticking with it and attaching it to those habits can be really helpful.
Yeah, absolutely. And I think it can be hard for people to start these kinds of habits at first, like you said, they feel awkward or uncomfortable. And they are awkward and uncomfortable at first, there’s no denying that it is kind of awkward and uncomfortable. But I think if we can detach ourselves from judgment or feeling silly, like who cares? At the end of the day, if you find something that makes you feel good, then do it, whatever that is, right? Nobody’s there watching you, right? Create your own little ritual. And at the end of the day, you’re just bettering yourself. You’re finding a way that helps you feel calm, you’re finding a way that makes you feel good. And at the end of the day, that’s all you want. That’s all you can ask for.
Exactly. Yeah, that detaching from judgment piece. Like, at the end of the day, we’re either there by ourselves doing these things or we’re doing it with our kids. And it’s not like there’s other people watching us. Like, who cares what someone may think if they happen to see what we’re doing. That doesn’t matter. What matters is how we feel, what we’re learning by doing it. That’s what we need to focus on and let go of that judgment of what this may appear like.
Ah, awesome. Yeah, you definitely got my mind turning for all the different ways I can start incorporating more of this stuff for my kids and for myself, and I want to check out your classes. So let’s hear more about what you have going on and where people can find you.
Yeah, so I teach weekly mindfulness classes that are live and virtual. So we’ve got a weekly class schedule. We have different classes from mindfulness Monday, the self-love club, the calm colouring club, and gratitude attitude, all different themed classes for kids where we do affirmations. We take kid friendly deep breaths, we colour, we draw, and we end every class with a guided meditation. And those are done weekly.
So we have something called Club Gold Minds where you can join unlimited weekly classes that are live and virtual. And you also have access to a full library of guided meditations for kids. And those are ones that you can also use before bed. So yeah, those are the main offerings right now and over the summer that we’ll be doing.
And then I’m excited to be launching a program in the early fall that will be a parent and child mindfulness program. So that’s something that I’m really looking forward to doing. I’ve done a class with parents and kids and it’s just gone so well so far. And so I’m going to be launching that in the fall. And if people want to find me they can search on Instagram @GoldMindsClass. And yeah, shoot me a DM with any questions that anyone might have.
Yeah, that sounds great. I love your idea for your course in the fall with the kids and the parents. As we touched on throughout this whole conversation, it really is kind of that side by side learning, doing the work ourselves, being that example and teaching our kids how to do it. So that you have that in one container is really great.
I’m excited for that one, obviously it’s great to teach kids these things. But for you as the parent, you’re there with them every single day through it all. And it makes the most sense to find ways to self-regulate together or co-regulate, to find things that work best for you. And then also to reflect with each other, you know, what are things we can do? Last week we did a class and it was, “what’s one thing that the other person does that makes you feel sunny or happy, and what’s something that the other person does that makes you feel cloudy or unhappy,” and talking about some ways that they can work on those things together.
And it’s just a really nice way for parents and kids to connect, and have someone facilitating rather than just having that conversation. Because as we know, when somebody else facilitates it, it opens up a whole new world of discussion, and can also make people that much more willing to participate and engage in the conversation.
Absolutely, yeah, my son is the one that has the really, really big feelings. And he’s always been a little bit more, with many, many things. And as you touched on, with kids, before it’s like, “okay, just go in your room, you’re too much to handle.” And I feel triggered at different moments kind of wanting to revert back to that. So I think that, of course, can be very helpful for me and others in a similar situation. One quick question though, regarding your different classes and things like that, what ages of kids are you generally helping?
Yeah, so for our classes and programs it’s typically kids anywhere between four and ten, that’s the age group. I’m shaking my fingers because, you know, four or five years old depending on the child, and depending on how comfortable they are, is the best place to start for our classes. But mindfulness itself can start as early as three years old, taking deep breaths with them and starting to talk about feelings and things like that. But yes, the primary for each of our classes is around four to ten.
Okay, good to know. Well, thank you for all this. I know we covered a lot. Is there any last thoughts or tips or resources you want to share before we sign off?
No, I think that was a really good summary of all kinds of different ways that parents can bring mindfulness into their lives. And just you know, a reminder, it’s never too early, it’s never too late also. You don’t have to worry if your child’s a little bit older, a little bit younger. The best time is now. Get them learning about their feelings and their emotions now so that they’re set up for success when they’re adults and things get different and things change and maybe even get harder. There’s never the perfect time but now is better than never. So I encourage people to get started and to not let it feel like a chore. Let it feel like something that’s going to take progress and that’s going to take consistency, but will have really incredible long term benefits for your child.
Absolutely. So this episode, it’s your cue. The time is now and we’ll work together to start incorporating some of these just in our day-to-day so we can help our kids and help us.
Well, thank you so much for being here Cynthia, and thank you for those that are listening. You can go ahead and pop into our Facebook group or group chat and we can dig into this a little bit more. I’m curious to hear the different things that you’ve tried and after listening to this the different things you might want to start incorporating to shift what’s been happening a little bit more. So until next time, take care
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