A Surprising Tool to Help Your Child Thrive Though the Awkward Years
I like to be good at things. If I want to learn how to do something better, I research it and try to learn as much as I can so I don’t make silly mistakes. It has worked well for me in life, at least until I had kids.
I have four kids, a pretty small baby, a toddler who is fast approaching her super fun second year (which I foresee being one giant power struggle) a six year old, and my first- my oldest- my sweet, smart, kind daughter who just jumped on the bucking bronco of tween-dom. Seriously, I used to know how she would respond to certain situations but it’s like she changed personalities overnight. My confident happy daughter seems shy, timid and unsure of herself now.
She used to think I was smart and funny.
She would just roll her eyes and laugh when I tried to embarrass her in public (like that time I wore a crazy outfit to a race and made her stay with me!). Now every day is a gamble. Will I be the smart amazing mom today or perhaps the evil queen? Will she laugh at my sarcasm, or will it make her cry? Will she happily smile in a picture for me, or will she roll her eyes that I’m being ridiculous. Will she play with other kids at recess or will she sit alone because she is afraid to be rejected. Will she wear that outfit that screams “I am ME” or will she scrap her personal style so she fits in better? Is my advice helping her or putting salt in a wound I did not even know existed…there are so many questions, so many unexpected emotions and I feel like I’m maneuvering through a minefield. It’s tough to be a kid, remember?
I want to help her, wrap her in my arms and tell her we all go through this stuff and she will come out the other side in one piece. But I can’t.
I want to tell her that her body will get through these awkward years sooner than she thinks and no matter what it ends up looking like, it is a gift from God and it belongs to her and she should love and cherish it.
I want to tell her to be thick skinned and not let words hurt her, but we all know they still hurt even when you think you are too old to care.
I want to tell her to love herself more than she loves anyone else, to be kind to herself, and to only say nice things to herself. Instead I see her looking in the mirror and wondering if she is good enough.
YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH!!!
Maybe if I scream it loud enough with my mind she will hear me.
I think these feelings are normal, this helpless feeling a parent has while we watch our babies transform into little people. What can we do to help them without blocking the path they need to forge on their own? We can’t do it for them; we can simply be there for them, see them, hear them, hug them, listen to them and do Yoga with them.
You may be thinking WHAAAAT?!? What does Yoga have to do with any of this- but I am here to offer you a tool. A lifeline you can throw to your child, to help them build themselves up, and offer them a safe place to go when they feel out of control. Did you know Yoga could do that?
I am sure you have seen a baby easily fall into child’s pose, or happy baby pose. I just watched my almost 2-year-old slide easily into downward dog while laughing hysterically at me through her legs. Our bodies are made for Yoga. It’s natural and we are born with the ability to perform it.
But how is this going to help my tween or teen you ask? Here are a few of the benefits of Yoga that easily translate to helping our children:
It’s non-competitive-This is nice in an age where 7 year olds are expected to make travel teams and 10 year olds come home with 3 hours of homework. Yoga is about you, there is no winning or losing or passing or failing. You do you. Every BODY is different and Yoga helps you embrace your differences, find your strengths and weaknesses and encourages you to build on them to better yourself by learning and exploring your body and your own abilities not compared to anyone else.
Healthy Habit Building- by practicing Yoga regularly a child learns to keep physical activity a regular part of their life. They learn to take care of their bodies and this includes fueling it properly which can then also lead to better or healthy eating habits and a focus on how they feel over how they look.
Focus and Calming techniques- Yoga helps anyone practicing it to learn to be present, to concentrate, and to focus. These three traits can benefit school performance, but also they can help your child be able to find calm in the midst of an emotional storm. Practicing Yoga helps with learning healthy ways to deal with frustration and how to apply them to life situations in order to remain controlled and react appropriately. When their hormones go wack-a-doodle instead of riding the deep waves of their emotions, they will learn how to stop, breath, calm themselves, focusing on the root of the issue and helping them navigate more smoothly through it. I know plenty of adults who could benefit from these lessons. Introducing your child to them early will create life lasting benefits for them.
Self- Awareness and Acceptance- Yoga teaches that we should accept and cherish ourselves as is. We don’t need to be like anyone else. Fight self-doubt and love your body and its capabilities. Quiet practice teaches the student that you can affect your attitude through your own thoughts and choices. YOU are in control of YOU. What a powerful lesson to teach a teenager. Taking control and responsibility for our body, mind and spirit can lead to becoming more confident, kind and responsible adults.
Respect- Namaste translates to: the light in me sees the light in you. So not only do you learn to love and accept yourself, but also to love, tolerate and and accept others the way they are. This means respecting our differences and loving one another without judging or expectations.
Supports Mental Health- arming your child with vital tools of resiliency like acceptance, self love, the ability to find the good in yourself and others can help lead them to having a more positive and optimistic outlook on life. Teaching that relaxation is not only allowed but also encouraged offers you a safe space for the mind to slow down and settle so you can view life and self more clearly.
So while Yoga may not be a magic wand that can pick our child up on one side of puberty and their teenage years and deposit place them safely on the other side, it’s a very powerful tool to help them navigate the way safely. So since we can’t wrap their hearts in bubble tape to protect them, at least we can arm them with our love, support, and a Yoga mat!
So although I’m still going to embarrass my daughter in public (sometimes even on purpose) and I will still say the wrong thing more often than not, I am also signing us up for a mother daughter Yoga session to help empower her to be in control and to be the absolute best HER that she can be.
Click the link to the mindbody app on our page to see our schedule of Yoga, aerial Yoga and SUPYoga classes for your child or for you both to do together. Please feel free to contact us if you have questions.