Before I had children, I went through many phases of character development, spirituality, and mindfulness. Around the time I was married, I felt that I had a decent grasp on my life and anticipated that once we had children, I would be able to quickly put all my ‘lessons learned’ to proper use.
…Well, let’s just say it took me a few years to regain my equilibrium – recovering from sleep deprivation, back to back pregnancies, hormonal imbalances, and health/nutrition-based hurdles. If it weren’t for my husband’s unconditional patience and dedication to knowledge and wisdom, I’m not sure I would be here writing this post!
Now, after having learned the most important and useful lessons of my life over the past 5 years as a parent, I find myself spending most of my waking hours thinking about the mindset, feelings and experiences of my little children. At the tender ages of 5 and 3, they are each facing their own precious challenges.
The following two books have helped me tremendously during this time and continue to do so!
Visiting Feelings. By Lauren Rubenstein, JD, PsyD. Illustrated by Shelly Hehenberger.
Recommended Age: 4+
Nothing is more difficult than watching your child face a challenge and thinking that you cannot help them. When that challenge is about their ability to deal with their feelings, the parent’s role is especially crucial and necessary.
I came across Visiting Feelings when I was trying to find a way to help my then-4-year-old express her feelings and accept them without judgment.
In hindsight, I think this book may have been a bit advanced at that age, and would probably be better for her now at the age of 5. However, while she enjoyed the colorful and vibrant illustrations at 4 years old, this book opened MY eyes to the concept of mindfulness for children, and encouraged me keep an open dialogue with her ever since!
Did I mention the amazing illustrations? The colors are full of life, and the images are a perfect mix between reality and dreams.
The book takes you through an honest yet peaceful series of questions, that allow you to examine the properties of what you are feeling – such as whether it feels sour or sweet? rough or smooth?
When children become aware of their emotions, the intangible nature of the emotion might scare them and make it harder to acknowledge it and express themselves.
I have often picked up this book after calming my daughter down from a tantrum or difficult emotional situation, and we’ve asked the questions about how her feeling FEELS! It does wonders every time and opens the doors to further communication!
There are also a few wonderful pages meant for the parent/guardian to read and learn about how to encourage mindfulness in children.
Peaceful Piggy Meditation. By Kerry Lee MacLean
Recommended Age: 4/5+
Once I figured out how important mindfulness is for my kids, I wanted to introduce them to the idea of meditation. With about six years of Aikido Meditation experience, I have often found inner peace during difficult situations and equally enjoyed the last drop of the moment when faced with beauty.
I frequently do “breathing meditation” with my girls. We stop everything, sit quietly and focus on our breath. This is a great way to introduce deeper meditation, and this book is a great way to show that sometimes sitting quietly and pondering, and grounding ourselves is “perfectly normal”.
That’s how I came about the Peaceful Piggy Meditation book. The whimsical piggy family portrays our day to day lives, starting with our busy schedules at home to dealing with bullies at school or losing a pet.
My girls often pull this book off the shelf and we spend a long time discussing what is happening to the piggies on each page. When our goldfish died, my 5 year old remembered the page about the piggies’ fish dying and how the two siblings dealt with it.
The illustrations are fresh, clean and to the point, yet cartoonish.
When children see realistic scenarios depicted in child-friendly books, they tend to relate to it better. Books like this are wonderful gateways for children to accept reality within their innocent playful minds.