Partnering with Harvard University: Introducing mindfulness practices at the Nursery
The children we serve at the Nursery experience a significant amount of stress in their everyday lives. Stress is hard to manage and it’s difficult for children to recognize and verbalize what they’re feeling. They may become angry or moody, cry or scream, withdraw and not participate in activities or conversations, or cling to adults. Stress can also be physical in children, manifesting itself in headaches, bedwetting, nightmares, decreased appetite, and upset stomach.
To address the increased stress levels in the children we serve, we are implementing mindfulness practices, which create awareness of the present moment and acceptance of emotions, to help children who stay at the Nursery manage and reduce this stress. These techniques will help them self-regulate and better control their emotions.
In partnership with the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, Nursery staff will begin introducing mindfulness practices to children in our care this fall. These activities will give staff new strategies for responding to challenging interactions with children who present behavioral issues as the result of family crisis.
A nonprofit organization, Mindful, explains that mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not be overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Our staff and volunteers will be practicing activities that help children focus attention, slow their breathing, and concentrate on how it feels to move their bodies. When a situation becomes overwhelming, a child may listen to a tuning fork, raising their hand when they can no longer hear it. If a child is angry and doesn’t know what to do with those feelings, they may be encouraged to lie on their back with a bean bag animal on their belly, breathing in and out slowly to rock their baby animal to sleep. To regain control, a child may practice mindful walking, where they think about their feet and notice how it feels to take each step.
Our staff will be able to share these practices with parents as well so they can help their child calm down and adjust how they react to their emotions outside of the Nursery.
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