Do you have a child who can’t sit still? Who you can’t get to the dinner table and when they finally do, she or he sits for a minute and then jumps up after eating two mouthfuls?
I recently came upon a wonderful book called “Sitting Like a Frog” ( Snel, E. Sitting Still Like a Frog, Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents). Shambala Publications, Boston: 2013. This book gives parents simple exercises to do with children that helps them to focus and actually sit still!
Working for years in the field of eating issues, I know that a huge influence on under or overeating is agitation. I always encourage people to sit for two minutes and use a breathing exercise to calm down before they eat. This helps slow down your eating, helps you to focus on each delicious bite,
and to notice how your body feels; is it getting fuller? Are you done? Satisfied? Stuffed?
Alternatively, some kids are so excitable that they barely notice that they’re hungry until they melt down. This exercise can also slow and calm them down enough that they learn how to practice ‘feeling’ their body, and their hunger, before it gets to a crisis point.
It’s not always easy to get kids to focus on their breathing, but I will give you a simple game to play with your kids before dinner which may help them to SLOW DOWN. (An adaptation from the book.)
1) Imagine a frog sitting on a rock by a lake. We know that frogs are capable of huge leaps and huge bursts of energy. They are also able to be incredibly still and sit without moving anything but their stomach that you can see moves up and down with each breath.
2) Now imagine that you are a frog. Notice if any part of your body is moving and if you can, let it be still.
3) You are that incredibly still frog that can when you need to, make that huge jump. But if you let yourself be distracted, you won’t be able to use
that energy that you can store up. So again, focus on letting any part of your body be very very still.
4) Notice your breath filling your body up and then down. Notice if you can see your stomach rise and fall.
Yes, you can teach your child to relax and practice slowing down. That keeps them connected to their body which is the most important protection from developing any eating problems.