You know how it goes. Sometimes when you ask “how are you?” you get back a shrug, and an “I’m fine” or maybe even “I dunno.”
Learning to identify how we feel in our bodies, minds and emotional states is a crucial life skill for our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
And yet, many of us (adults, too!) have a tough time answering this question. There are many reasons this can be especially difficult: ADHD, autism, it doesn’t always feel safe to be in touch with our thoughts and feelings, limited language, having a hard day, living through a global pandemic, being 12 years old… The list goes on!
Though it can be easy to let it slide, gently using those moments as a learning opportunity can be hugely beneficial! Learning to identify how we are is the first step in mindfulness- an essential tool in self-care. Here’s my favorite definition of self-care courtesy of Yoga Ed:
Self care helps us to shift from who and how we are being into who and how we want to be.
If I know one thing about kids, it’s that kids thrive with specific and concrete language (and it’s what Mr Rogers was all about!).
So I used that guiding principle to create a self-care tool to use with kids to help them answer the question “how am I?”
What’s happening in my MIND?
-is it moving quick or slow? is it chatty or quiet? cloudy or clear?
What emotions am I feeling in my HEART?
-happy, nervous, calm, grumpy, jealous, playful, serious…?
How does my BODY feel?
-hungry or thirsty?
-what sensations do I feel?
-can I sense my connection to the ground?
Once you’re having the conversation, it can be helpful to remind kids that however they are feeling is okay. It’s normal to have big feelings, small feelings, uncomfortable or confusing feelings. And, most importantly: all feelings are temporary.
We can only ever move through uncomfortable feelings if we first notice them, and allow them space to be here with us. You can help them brainstorm some things they can do when big feelings come up (personally, I like talking, writing, walking or yoga-ing until my feelings feel heard).
I hope you find this useful with the ‘I dunno’s and ‘I’m fine’s you may encounter in your home or classroom! I’d love to hear how it goes- just reply to this email to let me know!
All the best,