Kids probably hear the phrase, “calm down, please ” so often that it goes in one ear and out the other. But do they really know what it means to calm down? Teach them the art of practicing mindfulness so they can keep calm and walk on!
As school is winding down most OST sites are revving up for a fun, exciting, and adventurous summer. The kids are coming to your site full of energy after months of sitting in a desk for hours every day. The constant struggle as a youth leader is helping kids know the appropriate time and way to use that energy and when they need to calm down.
Simply requesting children “calm down” is an uphill battle and most of them haven’t been taught how to regain control of their minds and bodies or find their happy place when they are in a stressful situation. Often times when they hear their youth leader ask them to “calm down” they think they are being asked to be quiet and sit still. However, it’s far more beneficial to teach children how to calm their mind and body rather than simply demand it of them.
The art of calming down is known as mindfulness. Mindfulness is learning to create a safe and relaxing place that children can return to whenever they need to feel a sense of calmness. Perhaps the kids have just come back from an outdoor game and need to settle down for something a little more structured or academic. Teaching youth mindfulness means that when they are asked to “calm down” they know just what to do. The following script is a great starting point for teaching mindfulness to the youth at your site.
(The Script comes from Hooke and Fodor, 2008)
The facilitator should read the script to the group in a calm, slow voice.
Begin by sitting in a comfortable position, with your back straight and shoulders relaxed.
Softly close your eyes.
Allow the picture in your mind to become blank.
You are going to imagine a place that feels comfortable, safe, and relaxing.
Think of your place.
It might be the beach, a lake, or even your own bed.
Imagine it slowly appearing before you, becoming more and more clear.
Look to your left. What do you see?
Look to your right. What do you see?
Breathe in. What do you smell?
Walk around your place. Look close at certain things. Stay focused on your place.
How are you feeling?
If you find your thoughts wandering, observe them, and then focus on bringing the image of your place back into focus in front of you.
(allow some time)
When you are ready put your hand in front of your eyes.
Open your eyes.
Slowly spread your fingers to allow light in.
When you are ready, slowly remove your hand.
A printable version of the script can be found here.
If you are interested in learning more about teaching mindfulness, Sitting Like a Frog by Eline Snel is a great resource to get you started!
Leave a comment below and let us know what you do at your site to help youth calm down.