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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

April A-Z: Life Lessons

I think that one of the most important things we've taught our kids is how to use the technique of visualisation for calming and to help them sleep.  I didn't learn stress management techniques until I was at uni, and it does take practice to really be able to benefit from them.  Obviously, I'm not suggesting life is stressful for our kids (at least I certainly hope it isn't), but these simple techniques have helped with the normal round of things like school worries, bad dreams and so on.

We've been much more consistent about it with the little one (currently 7) than the older (currently 12), and it does show.  Littl'un is much more likely to catch herself getting worked up and steady her breath without prompting.  She's had a 'bubble' to sleep in since she was very small: imagining a bubble of light around her, protecting her and keeping her safe.  This was a part of the bedtime routine for years, and has dwindled a bit lately, although she does refer to it sometimes if she's particularly tired or has had an argument at school or something.

She always liked to tell me what colour the bubble would be.  I encouraged her not to use red (too energetic for bedtime) or black (seemed too negative), and she'd usually go for a blue or purple shade.  Interestingly, when she needed cheering up, she'd often choose yellow or orange, which does chime with some 'received wisdom' about colour meanings.  Other than suggesting that red and black aren't 'good' bubble colours, I didn't influence her choices, so her selections imply to me that these associations (blue with calming, yellow with cheering etc) do have some kind of resonance at an instinctive level.  Kind of like aspects of myth and folklore.  Amazing what kids can figure out for themselves, isn't it?

What 'life lessons' have you given your children? What do you think families should provide in the way of learning?

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