Why Kids Need Yoga More Than Ever

I’ve been off the grid for a few weeks and was pleasantly surprised when a follower messaged me to see when my next post would be released. The truth is, life has been super heavy lately and I simply found myself struggling to put “pen-to-paper.” I was feeling guilty and disappointed in myself for not following through on my promise to put out weekly posts, but when these periods in my life happen, I need time to reflect and disengage, so that I can refocus my outlook.

Without out going into a ton of detail, let’s just say life happened and I found my struggling to cope. I knew better than to let my fear and emotions takes over, but I am human and needed to feel what I needed to feel.

When life throws me these curveballs, I know I am being tested and that there is a greater lesson to be learned. I also know that in the absence of love, we become lost, sometimes jaded and fearful.

Over time, I have learned that the absence of love can leads us to make decisions and to do things that may not be good for us. It also causes us to lose sight of the things we are passionate about, which in turn affects how we see the world around us. When this happens, we lose sight of our purpose and the role we all have in in the world. This is what happened to me and fortunately, as the fog began to lift, I was able to come back to my “why,” and to see how this moment was helping me get clear on certain things in my life.

While my life purpose remains to be a work in progress, I have never been more clear about who and what I want to be at this point in my life including:

  • Being the best mom I can be to my daughters;
  • Being the best wife and partner I can be to my husband;
  • Being the best daughter, sister and friend;
  • Sharing my love of yoga with children and their families; and
  • Sharing my life learnings and lessons with the hope they might help others.

So, that’s where I’ve been at the past few weeks. I am slowly coming around, but I am back and excited to pick-up where I left off!

What the heck does this have to do with kids needing yoga more than ever?

During these challenging periods, I typically turn to my yoga and meditation practice to help get my mind right because when the mind is right, everything else just seems to fall into place.

Now imagine if our children were able to do the same thing or had the tools to help them get to this point. This is what I want for my children and for all children, and why kids today need yoga in their lives more than ever.

I can’t tell you the number of times a parent has said to me that they wished they had learned about yoga earlier in their life. When I ask them why, their response usually has something to do with learning to better manage stress and anxiety earlier in life; exploring ways to create mental clarity; or finding more inner peace while increasing their overall energy. 

I doubt there are many people who will disagree with me when I say that we are living in  pretty interesting times and that parenting in today’s world is much different than 30 years ago. Parents are busier than ever. Kids are being faced with school pressures, incessant lessons to be learned, vast information, video games, malls and competitive sports. Add to this list the age of the smartphone and the rise of social media, and you pretty much have a complex recipe for being a kid and raising a kid.

Fortunately there are things we can do as parents to help our children navigate today’s world without having to take drastic measures such as banning technology altogether (a suggestion once made by my mother) or moving to the middle of nowhere away (ha!). This is the world we live in, and we have the choice to adapt and manage how we function within it. The same goes for how we teach our children to do the same.

Benefits of yoga for children

Yoga provides so many wonderful benefits for children and can be one of the best ways to counter societal pressures if practiced consistently.

Some of the benefits of yoga for children include:

  • Learning breathing and visualization techniques that help them to better focus and center themselves. As their focus increases, they are able to breathe better, naturally releasing and reducing cortisol (the stress hormone). 
  • They become stronger physically, have increased flexibility and become more aware of their body and how it moves. Children with healthy body awareness tend to be more self-confident, breathe better and are less prone to injury.
  • They are able to practice self-reflection and mindfulness because they are given the time and space to get in touch with their feelings and emotions. This ultimately leads to becoming more  empathetic and the ability to better connect with others.
  • They get to be creative and have fun. 
  • Simply put, they get to be kids. 

There are many tools you can use to teach yoga to children and sometimes knowing where to start can be very overwhelming, so over the next few weeks I will be sharing some of the tools I use with my own students and children including, games, meditations, breath practices, book suggestions, easy to follow yoga sequences, yoga poses and more.

Like many of the parents I have met, I wish I had discovered yoga much earlier in my life, but yoga is a journey and I believe it comes too you when you need it most. Children today need to be armed with tools that can help them manage and cope when the going gets tough, and as Deepak Chopra’s daughter Malika once said, “meditation, mindfulness techniques, and yoga are age-old practices that have survived generations. For today’s kids these techniques are as relevant as ever.”

#strongkindminds

Sources:

  1. Discover Why Kids Need Yoga as Much as We Do
  2. How Smartphones and Social Media Can Steal Childhood
  3. Eight Benefits of Yoga for Kids
  4. This is the Guide to Yoga and Meditation We Wish We Had Growing Up

The Problem with People-Pleasing

My husband and I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with our daughters’ teachers for parent-teacher conferences. Both girls are really good students, so there isn’t generally any cause for concern when it comes to how they’re doing in school academically. However this time was a little different when one of the girls’ teachers mentioned that our daughter was a bit of a people-pleaser.

I remember thinking, “that’s an interesting thing to bring up,” and didn’t think too much of it, but as time passed and I began to research why this might be an issue, I could see why her teacher felt the need to raise the issue with my husband and I.

Now don’t get me wrong, being kind and wanting to helping people are wonderful attributes to have, but problems can arise when people begin to exploit your kindness or use it too their advantage – consciously or subconsciously – and I assume that is what my daughter’s teacher was beginning to see.

A people-pleaser is a person who generally puts the needs of others before themselves. They are always willing to step-in and help out, even if it might potentially harm or put them at risk. They rarely say “no” and will put themselves in uncomfortable situations just to save face or because they think it’s the right thing to do. Simply put, people-pleasers will do anything to make other people happy, even if it’s at the expense of their own happiness

People-pleasing is a problem and I know this first-hand because I have pretty much been a people-pleaser my entire life. It has definitely left a dent in terms of how I view certain relationships, but truth be told, I don’t want either of my daughters to become people-pleasers. I want them to be good people and do good things, but I also want them to learn that it’s okay to say “no” or to be a little selfish sometimes.

It took me a long time to realize that I was this person and it really wasn’t until we moved to San Antonio that I began to subconsciously release my people-pleasing ways. Maybe it was something about having a fresh start or not really knowing anyone when we moved here, but whatever the reason, I noticed a profound difference in how I was feeling. It was as though a weight had been lifted and I could breath again.

The Correlation Between People-Pleasing and Bullying

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that one of our daughters has already had a few brushes with bully-like behavior, so perhaps the biggest concern I have for my daughter(s) is how people-pleasing can contribute to bullying.

An article written by the folks at VeryWellFamily.com explains how people-pleasers are typically a magnet for mean, controlling and demanding people, making them one of the primary targets of bullies. They assert that people-pleasers are also more susceptible to peer pressure because they desperately want to fit in and use the example of mean girls and cliques to further show the great lengths people-pleasers will take to “fit in” and avoid being ostracized.  Most people-pleasers will find themselves compromising their values and beliefs in order to please others in the group and ultimately end up feeling miserable about themselves.

Inspiring Change: How to stop people pleasing and teaching your child to do the same

If you’re like me or have noticed people-pleasing tendencies within your own child, here are a few things you can do to deal with the problem:

  • There’s a difference between goodwill and pleasing. Learning to differentiate between these two things is a critical part of recognizing people-pleasing behaviors. If it doesn’t feel “right,” if you feel uneasy or fear the consequence of not doing something, chances are you shouldn’t do it. Helping your child understand this difference will help them make better decisions in this regard.
  • It’s okay to be selfish. Creating boundaries for yourself is never something you should feel bad about and this is something we need to teach our children. What I have found works best for our family is to talk about it. In the case of people-pleasing and relationships, this would talking about what it means to be a good friend, what it means to have a good friend and to understand what it might look like if a friendship is being taken advantage of (more on this below).
  • Learn to read your feelings. Most people pleasers will find themselves experiencing feelings of anger, resentment, sadness, frustration and fear to name a few. Being able to recognize when these feelings arise and associating them with people-pleasing tendencies (i.e. how you might feel towards a certain person after they’ve asked you to do something), can you help you better address the problem.
  • Understand what healthy relationships look like. My husband and I have had many conversations with our daughters about this one. If spending time with someone causes you to question your self worth or makes you feel bad about yourself, chances are you shouldn’t be friends with them. Healthy relationships, although not always perfect, are balanced. Acts of generosity and kindness are reciprocated, and being around that person should always makes you feel good.
  • Just say “NO!” This is so much easier said than done , but goes back to the idea of creating healthy boundaries for yourself and being able to recognize when something or someone no longer serves you in a positive or fulfilling way. Over the past few years, I have either let go or scaled back my expectations when it comes to certain relationships because of how they made me feel. While some decisions came rather easily and others did not, I knew I had done the right thing when letting go gave me a sense of inner peace and joy. I always try to encourage my girls to look a their relationships in the same way. I tell them to spend time with those who lift them up and fill their hearts, and to simply steer clear of those who do not.

#strongkindminds

Sources:

  1. The Problem with People-Pleasing
  2. How to Stop People-Pleasing
  3. Teaching Kids How to Set & Protect Their Boundaries Against Toxic Behavior

Choosing to be kind

 “A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” -Amelia Earhart

Over the past few weeks I have been running a yoga series for a group of children in our community. The theme of last week’s class was “I am Kind.” We focused on what it means to be kind and how to bring kindness into the world through our actions and words. During class, we all took turns sharing our thoughts with one another, I couldn’t help but feel this magical energy in the room. 

Each child had the opportunity to reflect on a moment in time where they either treated someone unkindly or weren’t treated with kindness themselves, and shared what they felt a world full of kindness would look like. Here’s what some of them had to say:

  • No one would feel excluded or alone.
  • People would smile all the time.
  • Everyone would help everyone.
  • The world would be a better place.

If the world were like this, it would be a better place, wouldn’t it? But that’s not the world we live in, and we need to make sure our children are equipped to deal with the unkindness in the world, and to respond with unkindness with kindness when it inevitably happens.

The “Magic Ratio” of Kindness 

I always tell my students that being kind is something we have to choose to do. We cannot choose how others treat us, but we can choose how to treat them. If other people treat us in a way that hurts or harms, we can choose to echo this behavior or seek to change it and do better. Also, the more we choose to be kind the more likely those around us will choose to be kind too. 

Many studies have shown that multiple positive interactions with one person can actually make-up for any negative interactions. Relationship expert John Gottman developed what’s called the “Magic Ratio,” after discovering that the difference between happy and unhappy couples in a relationship is the balance between positive and negative interactions during conflict. He found there is a very specific ratio that makes love last, which can also be applied to acts of kindness. This magical ratio is 5:1, meaning that for every 1 negative interaction, it takes 5 positive interactions to overcome that 1 negative moment.

That’s a lot of positivity we as humans need and understandably so. We thrive on the need for positive interactions on a emotional, physical and spiritual level, otherwise, we struggle to cope. And, when applying the “magic ratio” to kindness, it’s apparent that we need to constantly surround ourselves and project positivity into the world. We must always strive to choose kindness and look at everything in life through the lens of love. 

Side Effects of Kindness

Looking a life through the lens of love is something I strive to inspire within my students and daughters because when we do this, we become present to life and create a positive energy that is felt both within ourselves and among those around us.

Kindness has so many wonderful benefits, not only for the receiver but also for the giver. Some of the scientifically proven positive effects of kindness, include:

  • Increases in the “love hormone” oxytocin;
  • Higher self-esteem;
  • More optimistic outlook on life;
  • Increased energy;
  • Increased happiness;
  • Longer life expectancy; and
  • Less stress & anxiety, to name a few. 

Practicing Kindness

One of the most effective ways for us to teach children how to be kind is to simply model it. Whether through gesture, choosing kind words or teaching them about empathy, it all starts with us.

When I asked my students how they might put kindness into action in their lives, here’s what some of them had to say:

  • I would stand up for someone if they were being bullied.
  • I would play with someone if they were alone at recess.
  • I would help my mom more.
  • I would give more hugs.

It occurred to me as I was listening to them that kindness needn’t be a grand gesture to make a difference. Sometimes a simple act can be just as or even more effective. 

Self Care

My students and I also discussed how kindness isn’t just about how we treat others – kindness is also about how we treat ourselves. The practice of self-care plays an important role in our physical and emotional well being. Taking time to care for ourselves whether through daily exercise, practicing yoga, spending time with loved ones or eating well for example, helps to develop positivity within ourselves. And, when we feel good on the inside, we project this outwardly. Those around us can feel it too, which ulitimately brings more kindness and positivity into our lives.

#strongkindminds

Sources:

  1. The Art of Raising Kind Kids
  2. The Magic Relationship Ratio, According to Science
  3. The Science of Kindness

Why Being Grateful is More than Just Saying “Thank You”

Not sure if it’s just me, but it feels like there’s a lot of really weird energy in the air right now. Maybe it’s the mid-winter blues (although I live in Texas and it’s quite lovely weather-wise), maybe it’s homesickness (as result of living in Texas) or maybe I am just super sensitive to everything around me. Whatever “it” is, it’s had me on edge for weeks and I am so over it. 

Fortunately, I know when I get to this place I need to spend some quiet time alone (meditating, journaling, reading) in order to make sense of what I am feeling, but it wasn’t always this way. 

Like so many people today, I  used to find myself constantly caught up in the strain of daily life and feeling the snowball effect of stress. There were times where I literally could not cope and was paralyzed by fear of the unknown. I suffered from debilitating anxiety and liked to play the victim, never taking blame for the bad things happening in my life. When a particularly difficult situation arose nearly three years ago, I knew that if I didn’t change the way I was looking at things, the stress of this situation would destroy me.

While in the thick of the mess that was my life, I was picking-up a birthday gift when I came across 30 Days of Gratitude by Julie Boyer. Intrigued, I immediately looked it up and the first thing I read was this: “Do you struggle with maintaining a positive attitude when faced with life’s challenges? Are you ready to live your life with gratitude and abundance every single day?…”.

WHOA. 

Whether divine intervention or luck, I knew I was meant to find this book and that it was meant to find me. 

I had never heard of the “art of practicing gratitude,” but what I discovered is that this practice can help bring fresh new perspectives to the mind, and can help open our hearts to the opportunities and lessons that lie beneath some of life’s biggest challenges. Now, I am not suggesting that the practice cancels out what might be difficult –  it just balances the hard times with the good, which can bring a tremendous sense of peace and harmony into our lives when we need it most. 

It seems like gratitude is everywhere, yet many of us continue with struggling to appreciate what we have or find the silver lining in those challenging situations. I know I still do sometimes (and I have been doing this religiously for years), so what gives?

The practice of gratitude is a learned process, which means we have to give ourselves time to develop it. Learning to be truly grateful is a lot harder than most people think, especially when we so often associate our own happiness with material things. It’s takes time to train your mind to see the good in everything. Saying “thank you,” is one thing, but truly understanding why we should be thankful is the key to mastering this practice and this is what takes the most time to develop. 

As with every newly learned skill, you just have to do it and keep doing it. I know for myself my gratitude practice, just like my yoga practice, diet and workout regime for example, ebbs and flows. Although I do really try my hardest to stay consistent in these areas of my life, there always comes a point in time when something starts to slide and just like doing a half-assed workout, sometimes my gratitude journal lacks the necessary thought and depth. The key though, is that I still continue to do it and eventually at some point my mindset shifts back. 

The Benefits of Gratitude

The research on gratitude shows us that there is an incredible laundry list of benefits that come along with it (the folks over at happierhuman.com were good enough to compile this list into a single post). As I read the list, I couldn’t help but think about how desperately I wanted some of those things in my life.

People who practice gratitude are much more likely to receive the following benefits:

Emotional Benefits

  • More resilient
  • More relaxed 
  • Less envious
  • Have better memories
  • Have more good feelings

Personality Benefits

  • Less materialistic
  • Less self-centered
  • More optimistic
  • Increased self-esteem
  • More spiritual

Health Benefits 

  • Better sleep
  • Less sick
  • Live longer
  • Increased energy
  • Exercise more

Career Benefits

  • Better management
  • Improved networking
  • Achieve goals
  • Improved decision making
  • Increased productivity

Social Benefits

  • More social
  • Healthier marriage
  • Kinder
  • More friendships
  • Deeper relationships

Sounds like a good deal, right?

Then it dawned on me – if I desperately want those things in my life, shouldn’t I want the same thing for my children? And if I started them on this journey now, wouldn’t that mean they’d be better able to deal with whatever life throws at them in the future?

What I’ve done for myself and my kids

Shortly after finishing Julie’s book, I began my own gratitude practice by keeping a journal. I start each morning with three things I am grateful for; I envision what could happen to make the day a good one; and I write my daily affirmation. Just before bed, I take a few minutes to review what I wrote in the morning and finish off the journal with three amazing things that happened during the day, as well one thing I would’ve done differently. This last step is such an important part of the process because it gives me an opportunity to see where I might need to further grow or develop mysef. It’s also tangible proof that even when things may seem tough or don’t go as planned, there is so much to be thankful for. 

Journaling is also something I have inspired in my children. Before they go to bed, we take a few moments to reflect on their day. They both have their own gratitude journals, so we always begin by asking what went well in the day or what could’ve been done differently. They then write down three things they are grateful for (sometimes it’s more) and one thing they would be grateful to receive. 

What I’ve discovered is the more they continue with their own gratitude practices, the more in depth their entries are becoming, which means they are starting to see how the simple things in life can bring tremendous happiness. 

For example, when my youngest first started journaling she would write simple statements like, “I am grateful for my dog.” This is a great place to start, but I have been encouraging her to think more about why she is grateful. So now instead of writing,”I am grateful for my dog,” she recently wrote, “I am grateful for Stewie [the dog] because he gives me lots of kisses.” 

My hope is that as the girls get older they can use this practice to help them discover what truly matters, and to create a life full of meaning and purpose. For now though, I am just so grateful that we get to do this together and that they enjoying doing it. 

#strongkindminds

Why I’m okay with letting my kids fail

“Scores are just numbers, and numbers don’t meany anything.”
– Emma C., Age. 8

This past weekend my oldest daughter competed with an amazing team of girls in the regional competition for Destination Imagination (DI). DI is an wonderful global educational non-profit, which provides students worldwide with a chance to participate in a competition. Students go through the process of solving a challenge and have the opportunity to learn a number of essential skills such as team building, creative & critical thinking, problem solving, perseverance and self-confidence to name a few. I had the absolute honor of being their team manager and love everything DI stands for, but when our team didn’t even place in the finals, it was a crushing blow. 

We all knew going into the competition there would be a very slim chance of moving past the regional finals, but this didn’t deter the girls from working their buns off and creating a solution they were proud off. They were SO proud of what they accomplished and so was I. We felt really good heading into the competition on Saturday morning…Until we received our initial scores, and as my daughter said, “it’s as though all that hard work was for nothing.”

I wasn’t surprised by this reaction (believe me I felt it too), so I didn’t try to diminish it. It absolutely sucked, but the truth is the girls were already winners in so many other ways – they just couldn’t see it yet. 

They worked well together as a team, completed tasks with honesty and integrity, learned to manage different personalities, and so much more. Sure it would’ve been nice to receive something to acknowledge all of the hard work that went into this project, but as I told the girls, it takes more courage to admit defeat then it does too claim a winning medal. Winning is an amazing accomplishment, but it isn’t everything and if they choose to compete again, they can take what they’ve learned from the experience and build on it next year.

The lesson seems simple enough, but the truth is we all hate to lose and no one wants to fail, and that’s okay. We are human after all and need to give ourselves time to process whatever it is we are feeling. The problem though is that today, more and more parents are trying to protect their children from having to experience failure or loss in order to keep them happy. 

While this “epidemic” is not easily explained, many child psychiatrists will agree that we as parents aren’t helping the situation and that children need to learn resilience in order to truly succeed in life. More and more children are completely lacking resilience because so many parents try to fix problems for their children, instead of coaching them through how to deal with their emotions.

The reality is life is tough. Sometimes we win, but most of the time we don’t. Difficult situations, such as the one my team experienced this past weekend, can provide a child with so many amazing opportunities to learn and grow, and it is our job as their parents to coach them through the emotional journey instead of trying to fix the situation or make it better. The experience of seeing your child struggle, although difficult to watch, can prove to be incredibly eye-opening and will ultimately make them stronger people. 

I have always believed in allowing yourself to feel whatever it is you need to feel and giving yourself time to be with your emotions. Allowing your child to do the same after a challenging or disappointing situation, is a critical step in helping to build their resilience. They need time to process and understand that whatever happened was not the end of the world.

Since I was also feeling a little down in the dumps after the competition, my daughter and I decided to spend Sunday in decompression mode. We stayed in our PJs all day, did crafts, watched TV, ate junk food, drank wine (well I did!), etc. It was glorious and exactly what we both needed.

After letting the emotions of the weekend settle, we regrouped to chat about how she feeling. While still disappointed with the outcome, she said she was happy for the chance to compete and despite not winning an award, had a lot of fun. In that moment I knew she wasn’t going to let this “blip” bring her down and for that I am beyond grateful. This experience – although difficult – has given her a chance to grow and become a more resilient person. #strongkindminds

Sources:

  1. Parents: Your Kids Happiness Doesn’t Matter as Much as their Resilience
  2. Why Winning and Losing is Important for Children
  3. How to Help Teenage Girls Reframe Anxiety and Strengthen Resilience
  4. Your Awards Mean Nothing

Why we need empathy and kindess more than ever

Last Thursday I attended a lunch n’ learn about cyberbullying and to say it made an impact on me would be an understatement. The event was hosted by ACMB and SA Charter Moms, and the keynote speaker was a woman by the name of Maurine Molak. Maurine’s story made national headlines just a little over three years ago, when on January 4, 2016, her youngest son David took his own life after repeated cyberbullying. He was only 16 years old. 

Maurine shared her story with us and spoke candidly about the events leading up to that fateful day. She shared her regrets, the extremely hard lessons she’s learned, and more importantly what she and her family are doing to help ensure this doesn’t happen again. 

Since’s David’s death the Molak family has worked tirelessly to bring awareness to the issue of Cyberbullying, including working with lawmakers to create S.B. 179 David’s Law and creating David’s Legacy Foundation, which is dedicated to ending on and offline bullying.  

So many feelings and questions emerged within me as Maurine spoke: How could we as a society let this happen? What can I do to help? What if this was me? How do I protect my own children from ever having to experience this?

And then it hit me.

All at once I became fully aware of how the circumstances surrounding David’s death could easily translate into similar experiences for my own daughters and their peers one day down the road. I realized in that moment I may never be able to fully protect them from being bullied.

There’s no escaping the fact that one day my girls will have their own cell phones and social media accounts. There’s no escaping what other people might say or do on social media or elsewhere. There’s simply no escaping it. This is the world we live in and so, now more than ever we need to teach our children to be responsible with their actions, choices and words, and teach them to see situations from other people’s point of view.

Growing Strong.Kind.Minds.

Ever since my girls were little my husband and I have instilled in them that they have the power to withstand any obstacle or challenge that comes their way. And, while they may not always be able to control certain situations or people’s behaviors, they can control how they respond and react to them. Part of learning how to do this has involved teaching them to emotionally self-regulate and raising them to be empathetic people. 

Many studies have shown that children with good self-regulation and empathy skills are more likely to be successful in school, have stronger connections to adults and other children, are able to stand up for themselves and others, and make overall better life decisions. Without these skills, children can struggle with impulsive and inappropriate behavior that can continue into their teens and adulthood. Bullying is just one example of this type of behaviour. 

How we teach our children isn’t something that can be easily put into a checklist (trust me I tried), but with a tween on our hands and another in the making, teaching empathy and self-regulation is something my husband and I are strongly committed to. It’s a work in progress, but we have discovered that a lot of our own teachings have come through by way of taking action on certain situations, talking about feelings (ours and others), and making a choice to live every day with a Strong.Kind.Mind.

We are all born with the capacity to be empathetic, but it is a skill that needs to be developed, and while the capacity to learn empathy can vary from person-to-person, the sooner we can inspire it in children, the better. 

Sources:

How to teach your Kids empathy

Six things you need to know about empathy

Children and empathy: Self-regulation skills

Inspired Strength

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.”
– Leonardo da Vinci

Have you ever asked yourself what it actually means to be a strong person? I have and it took me many years to recognize that how I defined strength was severely flawed.

Here’s how I saw it…

If you are strong, you don’t cry.
If you get into an argument with someone, you don’t back down.
If you don’t like something, you keep your mouth shut and don’t complain.
If you are afraid of something, don’t admit it.
And failure…definitely NOT an option.

After some time and realizing that certain things in my life weren’t changing, I really began to question myself and my thought process. If I didn’t cry for example, how else would I be able to release deep seeded emotions? Or, if I never backed down on an issue, might I always be standing my own corner? Also, didn’t someone once say to do one thing a day that scares you?

On and on these conversations with myself went until I one day it just clicked – these were ‘misconceptions’ about what it means to be a strong person and these misconceptions were preventing me from learning. I realized that if I just accepted this was how things were, I wasn’t learning anything, which means I wouldn’t be able to grow as a person, and isn’t it through learning and growth that we gain our strength?

This was a major “ah-ha!” moment for me because for so long I thought my strength was truly defined by traits such as these. Little did I know that true strength came from deep within. And little did I know that true strength comes from accepting, dissecting and learning from what life throws our way – good or bad.

Inspiring Strength

Without the right mindset or tools at your disposal, life in today’s world can get very difficult, very quickly. Fortunately, today’s hardships means there are plenty of opportunities for us to discover and put our strengths to the test. What can be difficult however, is navigating how we can tap into our strengths and when to do it. 

Whenever I am working on myself or with my children, I choose to look for ways in which I can inspire strength. I prefer to use the word “inspire” over “instill” because it has a more positive connotation, and allows (in my opinion) for a more open and honest approach to self discovery. 

To inspire strength, I like to reflect on the areas of my life where action is needed or where I have already taken action and have seen results. 

There are many ways to do this, but here is what has worked best for me:

  • Meditating. I always like to begin my day by meditating. Sometimes it’s just for five minutes. Sometimes it’s an hour. The ability to stop and tune out actually helps me to see things more clearly. Obstacles become opportunities; I am able to focus better; and I am able to tap into my intuition. Meditation is great way to get reconnected with yourself.
  • Keeping a gratitude journal. Practicing gratitude has gotten me through some very difficult times because it allows me to see that even when things may not be going well in one area of my life, there is goodness all around me. It has also helped boost my ability to learn and make better life decisions.
  • Reading, reading and more reading. Monday through Friday I wake-up around 5:30 a.m. After getting my coffee (a must!), I like to set my intentions for the day and then spend about an hour reading. What I read largely depends on what I need to feed my soul at that moment in time. When I read I like to take a lot of notes about how I can put the ideas from the books into action in my life. It’s not unusual for me to have two or three books on the go at a time. 

Inspiring Strength in Children

While it is so important to take the time to quietly connect to ourselves, it is equally important to help children do the same so they can grow up to be strong and confident individuals.

Between moving to another country, raising an tween (lord help me!) and juggling day-to-day life, my husband and I have been working overtime to help our daughters better connect to themselves.

We have tried a variety of different approaches, but here are our top three favorite ways:

  1. Yoga. A regular yoga practice allows children to connect with themselves physically, emotionally and mentally. Whether moving through poses, doing breathing work or meditating, yoga provides children with a opportunity to become more self aware and mindful of the world around them. 
  2. Practicing Gratitude. In hour house, “gratitude is the best attitude.” To inspire this in our daughters, my husband and I have the girls write three things they are grateful for each day. We typically do this right before bed because it gives them a chance to reflect on the day’s events. If it was tough one, it gives the girls an opportunity to bring up any concerns they might have and it also helps them to see that even when the going gets tough, there is good in their lives.
  3. Affirmations. Affirmations are positive statements that are repeated to help children become more in tune with their thoughts and actions. I use an amazing set of affirmation cards for children from Love Powered Co., in my yoga classes and with own children. What I love about them is that they offer children a chance to reflect on the affirmation by asking a series of questions for them to think about.

While we have found these three things to be quite beneficial for our daughters, there are several other ways to inspire strength in children of all ages. What are some of the ways you like to inspire strength in children?