Ellie is a child who finds certain aspects of daily life tricky; she struggles to sit still and she fidgets constantly, she gets anxious when we go somewhere new or when she doesn’t know who we are going to see and she finds it really difficult to make a decision. At bedtime she finds it hard to unwind and this means it can take hours to get her to sleep. She tells us her mind is too busy and she has too many thoughts whizzing around in her head.
For a while now we’ve been trying to teach Ellie some ways to help her when she’s feeling anxious or “bouncy” and we’ve found mindfulness and yoga really helps her.
The Benefits of Mindful Meditation
Mindfulness has been shown to increase a child’s ability to regulate their emotions as well as their empathy and compassion skills. It can help reduce a child’s stress and anxiety along with increasing their focus and prolonged attention span. Mindfulness has also be known to improve a child’s sleep.
As with anything Mindfulness Meditation is only going to help a child if done regularly.
Children are being made more aware of their own mental health and mindfulness is being used in schools more regularly as studies show practicing mindfulness from a younger age has a positive effect a child’s anxiety and cognitive performance.
A New Toy!
Toymakers GP Flair have created the Mindful Lil Minds Breathing Meditation Buddy and we’ve had the chance to give it a whirl and write an honest review of what we thought. With Ellie’s quirks I was intrigued to see how it would help her and whether she’d be interested in it at all.
Let’s meet our new friend…
The Breathing Meditation Buddy (suitable from ages 3+) is a super cute, sensory, cuddly koala that is designed to help young children be more present and be able to manage their emotions in stressful situations.
Using a very clever combination of the senses (sight, sound, touch and smell) the toy allows the child a number of different ways to feel mindful, relax and unwind.
How does it work?
It’s a really simple toy to use – simply press the koala’s paw (it has a green leaf symbol) to begin a 5 minute guided breathing meditation. This was short enough that Ellie didn’t lose interest or get ‘antsy’ but also long enough to ensure she felt calmer and more relaxed when it was finished.
It’s tummy moves up and down as the koala ‘breathes’ and this makes the child more aware of their own deep breathing. It’s tummy is also scented with Eucalyptus which has aromatherapy qualities which can help to reduce anxiety. The scent is subtle so wouldn’t overpower those children with sensory difficulties but can be smelt if held close to the child’s face. The meditation itself is spoken by a calming female voice which is easy for the child to follow.
The arms and legs are floppy whereas the bottom is weighted which allows for further comfort – we’ve found weighted blankets really help Ellie so this was an aspect I was excited about in the koala. This is also great for children who are on the autistic spectrum!
How to use the Mindful Lil Minds Buddy
The koala buddy can be used in four different ways:
1. Sitting Individually.
Sit down alone in a quiet spot with the toy sitting next to or in front of you. Press the right paw and the meditation will begin. Sit with your eyes closed and listen
2. Sitting in a group/classroom.
The cuddly koala is great for classrooms or group meditations. Sit or lay on your back with the toy facing the group. Press the right paw and the meditation will begin. Close your eyes, listen and relax.
3. Laying down with the toy on chest.
Lay down on your back with the toy on your chest. Press the paw to begin the meditation. Place your hand on the koala’s belly to feel it move up and down, move your belly up and down along with the toy.
4. Sit down and hold the soft toy up to your face.
Press the paw to begin the guided meditation and inhale the calming smell of eucalyptus as you meditate.
Why we love it.
Ellie is a huge lover of soft, cuddly toys so this was a hit from the second she saw the Koala in the box – she immediately wanted to cuddle it and name it (Katie the Koala). It’s cute, it’s soft and the perfect size to pack in her suitcase or cuddle up to at bedtime. The meditation is easy for Ellie to follow and she doesn’t get bored half way through. She reaches for it when she can feel herself getting worried and the weighted aspect has helped bring her back down before she has a ‘wobble’.
Of cause, it doesn’t always work – nothing would always work – and it’s still good for her to experience those emotions. It’s just a really lovely ‘tool’ to have under her belt for when she recognises she is finding a situation tricky.
Where to buy it.
The Mindful Lil Minds Meditation Buddy is available online at Amazon (£26.49) & in-store in your local independent stores.
Do you use any mindful techniques/apps/toys with your children? I’d love to know so let me know in the comments.
Disclosure – We were kindly gifted the product to review however as always all thoughts, opinions and photographs are my own.