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Easy Tricks To Teach Kids How To Deal With Stress Through Mindfulness

But experts say if you want to teach your children to be mindful, you have to be mindful, too.

The back-to-school season brings its own unique stressors to just about everyone: young children starting school for the first time, older kids dealing with longer days and social pressures, teenagers who have to make decisions about their futures, and of course to parents who might also feel overwhelmed. But researchers at Vancouver’s Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre have suggested strategies to deal with back-to-school stress.

“Mindfulness” has become a bit of a buzzword recently, along the lines of “radical wellness” and “living your best life.” But beyond the context of GOOP, there’s a lot of value in the idea that we could all focus more on the present moment.

The basic tenet of mindfulness is the idea that stress and pain is often the result of thinking about past regrets or worrying about the future, and that can be combated by coming up with strategies that focus on remaining in the present moment. HuffPost Canada spoke to Dr. Dzung Vo, an adolescent medicine specialist and pediatrician at British Columbia’s Children’s Hospital, about how kids can implement those strategies.

“I define mindfulness as paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and with unconditional love,” Dr. Vo says. “It’s not meant to be something that you succeed or fail at, it’s more of an intention and an attitude that we orient ourselves to when we practice being in the present moment.”

Studies have shown that mindfulness can reduces stress and anxiety, improve attention and memory, and encourage empathy and monitor your emotions. It’s also been shown to be beneficial physically by lowering blood pressure and heart rate. And new research is currently underway to determine whether it can be a helpful tool to fight against depression.

Vo’s pediatric practice focuses primarily on teenagers, but he says there are effective strategies that can help just about every age group understand their feelings, process their reactions, and live a healthier emotional life.

Babies and toddlers
By far the most important factor in teaching very young children to be mindful is to have a parent or caregiver who is mindful themselves.

“What we know from neuroscience is that the parent’s own mental and neurologic state has a profound influence on regulating the child,” Vo told HuffPost Canada. “If the parent or caregiver can be mindful, present, attentive, and attuned with unconditional love and presence, then that will affect the child in very deep and healthy ways.”

One of the principles of mindfulness is approaching a subject with “beginner’s mind” — a sense of curiosity and presence you might use if you were trying something for the first time. This is something young children generally do anyways. “Kids are actually pretty naturally in the moment, so it’s not too hard to do,” Vo says.

Studies have shown that mindfulness can reduces stress and anxiety

School-age kids
Vo suggests adding brief mindfulness exercises into the routine of slightly older children, maybe at bedtime or when they get home from school. One idea is to get them to lie with a teddy bear on top of their belly and ask them to slowly breathe in and out, he says. Watching the teddy bear go up and down with their breath will put them in tune with their bodies, and put them in a state of calm.

Another useful activity can be to sing songs with lyrics that remind kids to think about where they are and how they feel — he suggests “Planting Seeds” by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. “As kids go through their day, when they need a mindful moment, they just sing the song,” he says. “Singing it actually is a practice, because it cultivates that mindful attitude.”

Crafts and artwork, approached with the “beginner’s mind,” are another helpful way to practice mindfulness. Vo suggests gently guiding children to be curious and really focus on their surroundings and what they might be engaging in.

“Maybe they’re drawing a flower in front of them,” he says. “Encourage the child to really pay attention to it by asking them: What are you seeing there? What are you noticing? What are the colours? What are the shapes?”

It isn’t particularly important that children understand the idea of mindfulness, he says.

“It’s more important to have experiences than to talk too much about the concepts.” And again, he stresses that the most important way to teach mindfulness to kids is the mindful presence of the parent or caregiver.

Teenagers
In his sessions with teens, Vo will often get them to try out their “beginner’s mind” by slowly eating one single raisin. “That might seem very simple and boring, but when you bring curious attention to it, you find experiences that seem tedious or boring may be quite interesting, or quite relaxing, or quite enjoyable in ways that we hadn’t considered when we go through them in autopilot mode.”

Many teenagers will bring what Vo calls “informal meditation” to a wide variety of day-to-day activities: breathing deeply and considering their senses while walking the dog, or waiting for the bus, or washing dishes. It can particularly help before a stressful situation at school — right before writing an exam, for instance.

There isn’t a lot of research on the benefits of mindfulness for teens, but Vo says that he believes that’s the time of life when those practices would be most beneficial.

Studies of adults have demonstrated that mindful practices can actually change the parts of the brain linked to memory, self-image, and emotional regulation. Because adolescent brains are changing quickly and profoundly, Vo says he thinks the effects would be even more significant. One of the biggest adolescent brain changes involves the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for emotional regulation and executive functioning, which develops throughout the teenage years up until the early 20s. It develops through focused attention and concentration, he says, which suggests that the more that they use these neurologic pathways to help regulate their brains, the stronger those connections will get.

By Maija Kappler                 08/22/2018
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Health Canada Considers Sweeping Ban On Junk Food Ads Aimed At Children And Teens

Government is also revising the Canada Food Guide to include foods that should be avoided altogether

The junk food advertising ban for everyone under the age of 17 would cover most cheeses and foods that are high in fat and salt such as chips, frozen waffles, fruit juice and even granola bars.

Health Canada is considering a widespread ban on the marketing of unhealthy food to kids under the age of 17. It could cover everything from TV, online and print advertising to product labelling, in-store displays and even end some sponsorships for sports teams.

The federal government announced the first step in St. John’s this morning by launching public consultations on how foods are marketed to kids in Canada.

“Most of the foods that are marketed to kids are these ones that are high in fat, high in sugar, high in sodium, so that’s what we’re looking at,” said Hasan Hutchinson, director general at Health Canada, who is overseeing the consultations.
“That would then cut out all of the things like, of course, your regular soda, most cookies, cakes, pies, puddings, ice cream, most cheeses because they are high in fat, they’re high in salt,” he said.

Health Canada would also target foods such as sugar-sweetened yogurt, frozen waffles, fruit juice, granola bars and potato chips.

The federal government looked at the Quebec ban on advertising to children, which has been in place since 1980.

In that province, companies can’t market unhealthy food to children under 13 years old. But Health Canada wants to go further, banning marketing to any person under 17.

“We know of course that children under 13 are particularly impressionable. But we feel that evidence is showing that teens [in the] 13- to 17-year-old age group are equally a vulnerable group,” Hutchinson said.

He points to the fact that many young teens have their own income for the first time, and are not as closely supervised by their parents.

Targeting high caffeine drinks

It is an argument Senator Nancy Greene Raine supports.

The Conservative senator introduced a private member’s bill last November that would have banned junk food advertising to children under 13.

But in her first appearance before the Senate committee studying her bill earlier this month, Greene Raine told senators she will be amending her bill to raise the age once it goes for clause-by-clause consideration.

‘Red Bull. Rockstar. These highly caffeinated soft drinks are working on the adolescents…but targetting them is really unhealthy,’
– Nancy Green Raine, Senator

“Some products that are being marketed to teenagers are, in my mind, very harmful. Red Bull. Rockstar. These highly caffeinated soft drinks are working on the adolescents — they like those products. But targeting them is really unhealthy,” Greene Raine said.

And she worries bad food choices made as teenagers lead to bad food choices in adulthood.

“A predilection to choosing foods high in sugar, salt, and fat as teenagers, can result in poor food choices for the rest of their lives,” said Greene Raine. “It’s recognized as one of the precursors to becoming overweight and obese, leading to all kinds of other chronic diseases.”

Sports teams

As part of the consultations, Health Canada is asking the public if the advertising ban should extend to sponsorships of sports teams.

Hutchinson said this is one area he thinks there could be some pushback from parents, who may believe sponsorships are critical for small sports teams to operate.

“They’re advertising because it has an effect. There’s a reason why they’re putting money into those sorts of programs,” Hutchinson said.

Greene Raine said she understands the link between sponsorships and sports — the senator won gold and silver medals for skiing at the 1968 Olympics, later becoming a spokesperson for Mars bars.

Still, Raine believes there should be some kind of limit on sponsorship of sports teams by companies that sell junk food.

“When you see things like: ‘wear your team jersey and come to our fast food outlet and we’ll give you a free slushie,’ that crosses the line,” Raine said.

Revising the Canada Food Guide

Health Canada is also launching a second round of consultations on the revised Canada Food Guide.

There were nearly 20,000 submissions in the first round of consultations in the fall of 2016, including 14,000 from the public.

The guide lists the foods Canadians should use as the foundation of a good diet, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

But for the first time, Health Canada is also listing the foods that should be avoided outright.

“What we’ve done is a special case on avoidance of processed or prepared beverages that are high in sugars, because based on our evidence reviews, we think we’ve got enough evidence to be as strong as that. We’ve never said anything quite that strong,” said Hutchinson.

On the naughty list: soft drinks, fruit-flavoured drinks including water, energy drinks and flavoured milks.

Susan Lunn · CBC News   June 10, 2017
source: www.cbc.ca


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Mental Illness And Teens: It Impacts Every One Of Us

It could be any of us. Any of our kids. Any of our nieces or nephews. Our grandkids. The students in our class. Our friends’ kids. Our neighbours’ kids. Our co-workers’ kids. The list goes on…

The fact is, mental illness impacts more of us than we realize.

The reality is, one in five Canadians will experience mental illness in their lifetime.

Did you know that 10 to 20 per cent of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder?

Sadly, only one out of five children who need mental health services receives them.

That is heartbreaking and unacceptable.

So many Canadian youth are struggling with depression and anxiety, and far too many aren’t getting help. Too many young lives have been cut short.

Madeline Grace German Coulter was one of them. That is why The Huffington Post Canada is launching Frame Of Mind, a new blog series inspired by The Maddie Project that will focus on teens and mental health.

The series aims to raise awareness and spark a conversation by speaking directly to teens who are going through a tough time, as well as their families, teachers and community leaders. We want to ensure that teens who are struggling with mental illness get the help, support and compassion they need.

youth

 

Kicking off our conversation

The series is running over four weeks and we start with a deeply moving blog from Glen Canning on his message to youth who are struggling and have lost hope. Mental health superhero Alicia Raimundo shares her inspiring story, and professional golfer Andrew Jensen explains why he talks about depression.

Nicole German writes about losing her daughter Maddie and why empathy is so important in mental health. Maddie’s father, Chris Coulter, writes about the real pain of depression. We also have blogs on the heartbreak of teen suicide, the complicated teenage brain and many more important topics.

Why talk about it?

From time to time I hear people flippantly say, “That is sad, I don’t want to read about that” or “That doesn’t impact me.” What many people don’t realize is that avoiding reading about something or talking about it doesn’t make the issue go away. I would argue that it contributes to the problem.

The propensity to avoid sadness and uncomfortable topics in society is akin to putting one’s head in the sand. What good is it going to serve? How will that help people who are struggling? How will services improve? How will that move policies and funding forward?

It is only when we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and listen and empathize that we better understand their struggles, mindsets and frustrations.

The future is bright

Over the coming weeks, blogs in our series will be addressing symptoms of depression and anxiety, mental health in the classroom, bullying, the link between social media and depression, tips to protect your child’s mental health, suicide prevention and many more topics.

Carol Todd, Kids Help Phone, The Canadian Mental Health Association, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, former Olympians Silken Laumann and Ian Warner, parenting expert Alyson Shafer, teachers, psychologists, counsellors and dozens more will be sharing their stories, perspectives, words of advice and inspiring messages of hope.

It is blogs at their best. Personal, insightful and inspiring.

We hope you enjoy the series and learn more about how you can help teens who are struggling. Please follow along, comment, share and join the conversation.

It truly has been a passion project for us here at HuffPost Canada. Thanks to all those who have contributed to the series. Talking about youth mental illness and suicide prevention isn’t easy, but our bloggers have done so with so much grace, bravery, honesty and compassion.

They have shown that we can only truly understand one another and better understand youth mental illness when we respect each other’s Frame Of Mind.

If you or someone you know is at risk
please contact your nearest Crisis Centre
or call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868
to speak to a counsellor.
If you would like to contribute a blog to Frame Of Mind, please email cablogteam@huffingtonpost.com
09/07/2016      Amy Gibson
Managing Editor of Blogs, Huffington Post Canada


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Experts Unveil New Sleep Guidelines For Children

‘Most parents don’t really know how much sleep children should be getting’

By Kas Roussy, CBC News    Jun 13, 2016 

New recommendations have been issued to help ensure children get enough rest.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, with the help of a panel of experts, has released its first ever official recommendations for how much shut-eye children need.

UBC sleep specialist and nursing professor Wendy Hall, the only Canadian on the 13-member panel, says the recommendations are important because lack of sleep is a growing trend.

“Most parents and care providers don’t really know how much sleep children should be getting,” she said in a news release. Few people are educated about sleep, she added.

sleep-hours-for-infants-children-and-teens
Sleep hours for infants, children and teens
(Natalie Holdway/CBC)

The American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed the new childhood sleep guidelines, which were published Monday in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

They are similar to ones issued by the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS), says society member Dr. Tracey Bridger. She says people don’t take sleep as seriously as they should, and that a good night’s sleep is as important as what you eat and whether you exercise.

That’s why CPS will endorse the Canadian 24 Hour Movement Behaviour Guidelines for Children and Youth later this month, she says.

Those guidelines “will harmonize recommendations for physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep, and will represent the first time these behaviours are integrated as a single recommendation,” according to its website.

sleeping-teenager
Teenagers are more likely to suffer athletic injuries
if they sleep less than eight hours a night,
experts say. (Shutterstock)

“Sleep is absolutely integral to physical growth as well as development, cognitive and emotional development,” says Dr. Hilary Myron, a pediatric sleep specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa. “It’s absolutely critical.”

To make sure parents are informed, the pediatrician says she has the current Canadian guidelines “plastered” on the walls of her clinics.

For people of all ages, the right amount of sleep improves attention, behaviour, memory, and overall mental and physical health. Failing to get enough sleep has dire consequences: it is associated with an increase in injuries, hypertension, obesity and depression.

So what can parents do to avoid sleep-deprived and cranky children? “It’s having a consistent sleep routine, seven days a week, with a consistent sleep time and wake time,” Myron told CBC News. “And removing screens from their children’s bedroom.”

That means, no iPads, iPhones or TV.

If parents are worried their kids are getting too little or too much sleep, Myron says they should consult their doctor.

Kas Roussy has been a general news reporter for most of her 30 years with the CBC, most recently focusing on health matters. Since joining the corporation in 1985 she has filed from China, where she was the bureau producer, Pakistan and Afghanistan after 9/11, Haiti and Chile where she covered earthquakes during a posting to South America.

source: www.cbc.ca