Reflect to Connect
We live in a wonderful time where we can easily connect to people and places around the world. However, with that blessing, it is sometimes easy to lose touch with our inner selves and forget that joy is an inside job.
In this post, we're going to discuss joy, and how we can help teach our children about creating their own joy, rather than searching for outside things to bring it to them.
Joy and Gratitude
The surest path to joy is gratitude. The more we practice gratitude and focus on being grateful for what is in our life, the more we will feel joy.
Expressing gratitude is something that everyone can do, and joy is a natural by-product that feels great! You can start a conversation with your children and discuss what you are grateful for. By sharing what you are thankful for in your life, they will learn how to better appreciate their opportunities, relationships, and physical things.
A Tip from Joy: A fun way to engage children in sharing what they are grateful for is to incorporate art and play. Take turns by drawing things each person is grateful for, then see if everyone else can guess what they are. Playing a game with them will help them open up and play, while they share their feelings.
Reflect to Connect in Action
Today, children’s schedules can be just as busy as ours. With school, homework, extracurricular activities and time with family and friends, most kids don’t get a chance to take time to relax, reflect on their day and how they are feeling. That can make anyone feel cranky!
If you are a parent that already practices reflection with your children, then kudos to you! But if not, don’t feel bad, you are not alone. The best way to teach your kids is to take action and do it with them. They will learn more from your actions and examples than from verbal instruction. If you can take a few minutes out of your day to reflect on how you feel, they will more likely be willing to try it out as well. Feel free to try this reflection exercise and see how it makes you and your kids feel:
Take 5 minutes before bedtime and sit with your child. Have them close their eyes.
Guide them to breathe in and out in a calm, relaxed manner.
Ask them to think about their day, and to think about one thing that they felt good about, something that gave them a feeling of joy. If they need help, try gently making suggestions even if it's as simple as asking if they liked breakfast, or how they felt when it was time for recess.
When they think of something, ask them how it made them feel. When they respond positively, ask them to say thank you to themselves for feeling that way. Encourage them to smile and use their name when they say thanks. For example, Suzie may say, "Thank you Suzie for feeling happy when you finished your drawing."
Ask them how they feel now, it will likely be positive so tell them to go ahead and say thank you to again and even give themselves a hug.
Repeat the last couple of steps for as long as they're interested.
You can practice this exercise a couple times a week to see how your child does. If they enjoy it and it helps calm them, then practice more often. There are no rules and you are welcome to adapt the exercise to fit your child’s imagination and attention span.
Please email us at email@example.com to let us know how the exercise worked for you and your child. You can also share your experience with us on our Facebook page (Joy Sun Bear) with the hashtag #reflecttoconnect, or under the comments section of this blog. We understand that this is a personal experience, but we always love and encourage feedback.
Balance is Key: Joy vs. Sadness
The Disney Pixar movie, Inside Out, did well expressing the necessary balance between joy and sadness. The film showed children that it is ok to let yourself be sad, and through acceptance and compassion, you can feel joy again and appreciate it even more.
Giving your children the opportunity to be sad if they need to be is very important. It will support them and let them know that crying and feeling sad doesn’t make them weak, and that you're not disappointed in them. Remind them that they don't have to be joyful all the time, and that they aren't crying because they are sad, but that they are crying to get over being sad.
Encourage them to shed their tears and tell them that everyone experiences sadness, so they aren't alone. Also, it is good to let them know that once they have moved through the sadness, they will feel joy again-and most likely it will feel very comforting!
So what does "joy" mean to you and your children/students?
Email us your answer(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org
Feel free to post your answers in the Comments section of the blog or share with us on our Facebook page, Joy Sun Bear.
Join us next week to explore how to share joy with others!
Have a joyful day!