Tune out

In the age of constant activity, communication and tons of noise from cell phones, iPods, computers, televisions, cars, etc. sometimes it's important to take time out and relax, but it's just as important to teach your children how to tune out and chill out. Below we have some tips that cover everything from meditation to family nature walks and "tea time."

This is a very basic technique that you can try with your child. Don't be surprised if really little ones can't sit still, but it is good to start teaching them by example, so try it out for yourself!

Breathing in and Tuning in (to your body)
Sit up straight and cross your legs
Place your hands resting, with palms facing up, on both knees
Close your eyes
Breathe in through your nose and continue to do so normally, encouraging your child to listen to the sounds of their breathing, taking it in and bringing it back out again. Do they hear their heart beating? Can they feel their breath deep inside filling their lungs and then releasing out into the room?
Sit quietly for five minutes, gradually build up by one minute a week, seeing how long both you and your child can sit and clear your mind of all thoughts. Even a few minutes a day can help teach a child to slow down and listen to their body.

Nature Walks
Almost everyone has a little place off the beaten path near their home, somewhere to explore in the woods, along the ocean, a bike path, a community garden. A place where nature still remains (mostly) untouched. Plan an outing with your family (dressing weather appropriate, of course) to your local nature walk Have your kids bring along a plastic bucket to collect interesting objects, flowers, leaves and a camera to take pictures of the plant life, insects and a few family photos. Breathe in the fresh air, the smell of the forest and listen to the sounds of nature.

This tradition started with moderator Ashley's mom, who, during particularly stressful times in her daughter's lives (bad days at school, after big tests or finals, fights with friends) would set up tea time with them. Mismatched china that was never used would be taken out of the cabinet, a pot of chamomile and spearmint tea would be brewed, candles would be lit and the tea would be served, presented on a tray with little cookies and linen napkins. Teatime is a chance to unwind, even if it's only for a half an hour, and spend one-on-one time with your child. You don't need fancy china (a special mug will do just fine). It's all about taking the time to laugh, talk and share secrets and forget about the every day stresses and relish in making something special out of an ordinary moment.

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