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Tips for Families to De-stress and Unwind

A local clinical psychologist offers six steps parents can take to promote peace beyond meditation

Meditation is just one path to mindfulness, according to Donna Rockwell, a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in mindfulness in her private practice in Farmington Hills and New York. Here are a few ideas to get in touch with your child and encourage her to get in touch with herself:

Ditch your devices

Turn off the computer, stash your phone and simply be present with your child. If you need to do work at home, take time to explain, "Honey, I have to take this business call and when I'm done, I will pay 100 percent attention to you."

Enjoy nature together

"We need to be with our children in nature, so they understand the core of what they come from and what the world is really about," Rockwell says. "They really need to walk in the woods, to smell the earth and look at flowers and understand the beauty and the awe that life is."

Don't over-program children's activities

Hustling from one plan to the next leaves little time for children to explore the world around and within them. It's OK for children to be "bored" or by themselves. "We need to allow quiet time," Rockwell says.

Encourage sensation

Sit with your child to talk about his senses. Can you feel your hand on your leg? Your foot against the floor? Do you see green leaves through the window? Do you smell food cooking in the kitchen? This helps children stay grounded and learn to be present in the world around them.

Be thankful

No matter the age of your child, spend some quiet time before bed to acknowledge what you're grateful for – or just "be" together. "Close your eyes and take a moment of appreciation for the opportunity to be alive and have this amazing experience," she says.

Listen

When a child is upset, don't rush to make her feel better. Instead, just be open to her feelings. "A child just wants to be heard, so a mindful parent will create a space for the child to express themselves and provide love and understanding. That's what the child needs," Rockwell says. "It's not a cognitive things with our minds; it's a heart connection, and that's what a child is asking for."

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