Last week I was invited to talk to two groups of primary school children in a Cardiff school. They were studying ‘Happiness’ and were also looking at what possible career options were available to them.
The children were years 1 and 2 so a bundle of wonderful excitement and energy wrapped in the bodies of 5 and 6 year olds! When I arrived, I took the youngest class first and was instantly amazed at how any teacher can possibly keep these balls of energy sat in a circle for more than a minute or two. Whilst every child was incredibly well behaved, they were, quite rightly, buzzing with excitement and as I looked to the left side of the circle to ask them to try and be quiet and sit still, the right side of the circle began wriggling and giggling. It was like trying to spin 30 plates! Whilst I have so much admiration for the teachers who do this day in day out, it did also make me wonder whether conventional school rooms are totally outdated for children this young?
I began chatting to the children about their emotions using an analogy of the film Inside Out, it caused so much excitement and enabled the children to understand how we all have these voices in our heads that are sometimes joyful and sometimes angry, I then taught them how taking five deep breaths can help calm the angry or fearful voice down.
I also broached the topic of gratitude and found that the children embraced it really quickly once they realised it was being thankful for something, hearing what they were grateful for was so sweet and beautiful, one boy said he was grateful for his mum and was going to marry her when he was older!
The second class were a year older and were excited to tell me what professions they wanted to do when they were ‘grown up’, it seemed they were very similar to the professions I remember my school friends and I wanting to do when we were of a similar age, the boys mostly wanted to be soldiers, policemen, firemen or racing drivers and the girls wanted to be teachers, work with animals or even help people be happy like me! I wonder how many of my old school friends fulfilled their 5 year old self’s dreams?
Hearing their dreams and excitement was infectious. This class were also able to enjoy not only learning breathing techniques but also a brief meditation where they were talked through being beautiful flowers shining in the sun, they enjoyed it so much they all spontaneous laid down!
The whole experience helped me validate even more the importance of children not just being taught academic skills at school but also in them being taught essential life skills. Meditation is a powerful tool that improves our mental, physical and spiritual health however most people only find meditation when they are out of any other options! How wonderful to teach it to a child who can then use that skills throughout his / her entire life.
If you are a parent, you can help your child learn to control and understand all of their emotions by teaching them really simple breathing techniques:
Breathing in deeply through the nose for the count of five
Breathing out through the mouth for the count of five
Or if they are open to it, try my Cloud Meditation specifically created for young minds and totally free on soundcloud.
Of course, if you would like me to come to your school or group for young people, message me for a no obligation chat.
A huge thank you to the school for inviting me and for all of their lovely pupils for inspiring me!