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Five Ways to Connect with Your Stepchildren

Five Ways to Connect with Your Stepchildren

Connecting with your stepchildren is one of the greatest gifts you will ever receive. I say this from experience. I have three amazing stepkids and they have brought more joy into my life than I had ever deemed possible. If you are not connecting with your stepchildren, then you are missing out on one of the utmost sources of joy in your life right now.

There is something to be said for choosing to love a person as a parent loves their children. You do it, not because you have to, but because you want to and because they are beautiful people that you are happy to have in your life.

Being a stepparent has certain complications that regular parents do not have and that many people are unaware of. For a stepparent it is necessary to stride into a parenting role and even then realize that being a stepparent and being a Mother or Father are totally different. You should never try to take over the role of Mother or Father, EVER. Your job (and in time you will find it to be a blessing) is to find your own relationship with them, not to steal someone else’s relationship. Remember that you are an addition to their lives; you did not give them life/are not their primary caregiver. Once you can accept this fact, then you will find that in this place of acceptance you will be much happier. There will be less power struggles, less misery, and more energy focused on the positive aspects of your relationship.

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Except for their safety, getting to know them is the single most important job you will ever have. How can you be a parent to a person you don’t know? Moreover, how can you expect them to connect with you if they don’t know you? If you do not connect with them, how can you assist their parents in giving them better lives and in making them better people? See, a real parent cares about giving their children better lives and it should be no different for you. I want my stepchildren to look back on their childhood and think I made a positive impact on their lives. It is not my fault that their parents decided to split, but that maybe—just maybe—I can be a small joy that came after it. Here are five ways that allowed me to connect with my stepchildren. I have no doubt that they will work for you too.

Show them lots of love and affection

All kids need love and affection, not just from their Mom and Dad, but from everyone in their lives that is important to them. Make them feel loved. Laugh with them, compliment them, cuddle up with them while you watch movies. Even if you have other children in the picture that demand your attention, make the time to be affectionate with them. If you don’t show them that you love and respect them, you can’t expect them to show it back.

Spend time together doing activities you both love

My stepson loves video games. My stepdaughter loves art. Some of the best times I have with them are sharing in these activities. Sunday morning Mario Kart, Saturday evening roller skating, pulling out the paints and paper and painting together are all times I treasure with my stepchildren. Are you spending quality time with your stepchildren? Are you talking to them, loving them? If not, then that may be why you are not connecting easily with them.

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Make sure they know they’re family

This goes especially for stepmothers. I say this because we are the ones who typically decorate the house, cook dinner, and go grocery shopping. This is not meant to be stereotypical and it’s not always the case; however, in my household my husband and I don’t show love in the same way. I hang up pictures of my stepchildren throughout the household so when they come home they know this is just as much their house as it is ours. I try to buy them food that they like (OK, well, maybe not as much junk food as they would like…), and go out of my way to do things they specifically request the weekend before. If my stepson asks for pizza, for example, I make sure the next weekend he comes over we make pizza. They should know how important they are to you and your life. They are family, you love them, and they should never question that.

Connect and show respect for BOTH parents

I know what you’re thinking, but STOP it! It does not matter what conflicts your current spouse has had, if any, with their ex husband or wife. It does not involve you. Don’t be judgmental. You know as well as I do that there are two sides to every story and it takes two to make or break a marriage.

Now you are a stepparent and it’s your responsibility to put your stepchildren first just as it would be to put your own children first. Because you love you stepchildren it is your duty to go out of your way to respect BOTH their parents. Trust me, you will never regret this. You might even find yourself liking and working well with their other parent. It is the responsibility of all of you now to make sure your stepchildren have the best possible lives. If you put out vibes of conflict then how can you achieve that?

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Make yourself an active part of their life, but realize and accept the fact that they had a life before you

If there is one piece of advice you take away from this article, I hope it’s this. As mentioned earlier, it is important to spend time with your stepchildren doing activities that you both like. Just as important, though, is to acknowledge the fact that they had a life before you. They once had another family that was with their Mom and Dad and that did not include you. This is a time that is important to them and that they love to reminisce about. I’m not going to lie; it can be tough sometimes. You may feel like an outsider. You may feel like what they had before is better than what you have to offer them now. Stop. Turn it off. This is not about you; this is about them and their parent(s).

You should be thankful that they love you enough that they want to share these stories with you. Try enjoying in their enjoyment. Be happy that they have happy experiences with both their parents, encourage their happy memories, and ask lots of questions. Basically, take an interest in the memories that are a part of who they are. It is a blessing to them and it should be to you too.

I have come to know my stepchildren quite well. I love them, they know that I love them, and I know they love me. They go out of their way to do amazing things for me. They show me respect, kindness, and they even remember my birthday and get me Mother’s Day gifts. Their Mother likes me and respects me. Their Father loves and respects me. I have a life full of love, joy, and respect. I am blessed to have them all in my life and I know with work you can find the same gift from your relationships that I have. Trust me when I tell you, you will treasure your relationship with them forever. You will never regret it. Good luck to you and your family.

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Featured photo credit: by Visit St. Pete/Clearwater via imcreator.com

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Published on August 8, 2018

How Guided Meditation for Kids Can Boost Learning and Social Skills

How Guided Meditation for Kids Can Boost Learning and Social Skills

Do you want the best for your kid? Of course you do!

Boosting your kid’s learning ability and social skills in less than 20 minutes a day? That’s where guided meditation for kids comes in.

You have probably heard a lot about meditation the last couple years. As there’s more and more research in the area of meditation, a lot of people finally start to see the benefits.

A subject that’s not talked about too much is that meditation can also help kids grow incredible learning and social skills.

Meditation for kids is becoming more popular every day as parents want their kids to see the benefits too.

What is guided meditation for kids?

First things first, what exactly is the guided meditation for kids that is talked about in this article?

We can define meditation with the help of Headspace:[1]

Meditation is about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.

And according to GuidedMind, guided meditation is:[2]

Guided meditation is when you are guided, by a narrator, to elicit a specific change in your life. You are first guided to relax your body and mind, to help you reach a deep meditative state before going on a journey, in your mind, to reach a specific goal.

If you want to get into guided meditation, read this:

The Guided Morning Meditation for Beginners (That Will Change Your Day)

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As you may know, there are a lot of variations on meditation. This includes:

  • Mindfulness, focusing on the breath while accepting everything that’s happening (thoughts, sounds, etc.).
  • (Guided) Visualization, visualizing a particular event, environment, feeling, etc.
  • Heart Rhythm Meditation (HRM), focusing on the breath and the heart while feeling at one with everything. A focus on downward energy flow within the body.
  • Transcendental Meditation (TM), this technique is literally about transcending the negative through internal mantras.
  • Qi Gong, this is a form of meditation that is done through specific movement patterns while focusing on the breath.
  • Kundalini focuses on the upward flow of energy within the body. Focusing on that energy with your breath gives you a higher sense of consciousness.
  • Zazen, sitting with a back straight while focusing on deep breaths.

You can find out more about different forms in this article:

17 Types of Meditation (Techniques and Basics) to Practice Mindfulness

All these forms of meditation can be done individually or guided. Guided meditation for kids is the best choice because it will make it easier for them to follow and understand.

The benefits of meditation for kids

There are a lot of benefits meditation has to offer, but the most important benefit is that it relieves stress. In this time and age, this becomes more important than ever.

(Post-)millennials are dealing with a lot of stress due to the amount of work pressure, opportunities (decision making) and student loan debt (which results in wanting early financial success).[3]

Making sure children are stress resistant is of high importance for the future of their lives.

Of course, there are way more benefits to meditation. So, to convince you further; here follow more benefits to meditation.

There are precisely 76 benefits to meditation which are scientifically proved.[4] But the main benefits of meditation are:

  • Improved concentration[5]
  • Increased happiness[6]
  • Slows down the aging process[7]
  • Increased immunity[8] and cardiovascular health[9]
  • Improved mood and brain power

Here I’m going to look into some of meditation’s benefits that parents care about most:

Boost learning ability

The question is: ‘How does meditation for kids improve learning ability?’

There are, of course, multiple answers but there’s one simple answer; concentration. As you read earlier on in this article, meditation improves the ability to concentrate.

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If the ability to concentrate increases, it will lead to an increased attention span which is one of the factors that affect learning.

By implementing guided meditation into your kids’ life; he/she will become a better learner.

Another reason to increase the attention span of your child beside learning is that our average attention span per person is decreasing exponentially because of all the distractions that we have around us.

The more we let distractions in, the less easy it becomes to really focus on something. This is because it takes us 23 minutes to get into something after being distracted.[10]

Improve social skills

The way meditation for kids improves the social skills of the meditator is through the sense of presence it creates.[11] Being present in a conversation is more important than you may think.

Do you know those people who are just way up in their head which makes it hard to have an in-depth conversation with?

They probably don’t meditate.

By being present in a conversation, you can better understand the person you’re talking to. Not being carried away by your thoughts makes it easier to process the information the other is providing. Including non-verbal signs, you may never have noticed if you weren’t present.

Meditation for kids also improves charisma because of the loving nature that grows from meditating. Especially the kindness and gratitude focused forms of meditation for kids. By being more kind and grateful; your kid will increase in charisma and feeling of interconnectedness which will improve social skills.

Last but not least, implementing guided meditation for kids in the form of guided meditation by you (the parent) will likely improve the relationship between you and your child.

This creates the opportunity to educate your child on specific social skills you’ve picked up and the other way around. Also, a child is very dependent on its environment.

By increasing social skills yourself, you will improve the social skills of your child.

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How to get started with guided meditation for kids

Below follows a step-by-step process on how to implement guided meditation for kids into your kids’ life.

Step 1: Do it yourself first

Have you ever tried learning Spanish from someone who doesn’t speak Spanish? No, because it doesn’t make sense!

This is the same for meditation for kids. If you want to teach your kid how to meditate, you will first have to do it yourself.

Pick a form of meditation for kids you think would work best and get the hang of it. Follow guided meditation via YouTube or any platform you like.

Suggestions: Visualization meditation, body scan meditation or simple mindfulness.

There’s an easy guide on meditation you can do anywhere at any time:

The 5-Minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

Step 2: Expose your kid to the practice

By exposing your kid to the practice without him/her knowing, its intention will raise their curiosity. This makes it easier to convince them afterward.

Meditate in the presence of them; put your earplugs in and start meditating while they are around. When they talk to you or touch you while you’re meditating, keep meditating until they walk away.

When you’re done, you can explain what you were doing and why you were doing and ask to do it together. Explain it in a way, so they understand it.

Here’s an article that will help you explain mindfulness to your kid:

Mindfulness: What it is and How to Explain it to Kids and Adults

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Tip: Make it sound like it’s very special (which it is) so that they’ll grow their curiosity and excitement even more.

Step 3: Do it together

Now that you have the interest of your child and know the essence of meditation you can finally do it together. Guide them through the meditation or put on the meditation you followed before.

Make it a fun and enjoyable experience for your child at first while keeping the essence of meditation in mind.

As you and your child progress you may want to make it more serious.

Step 4: Let your child express himself/Herself entirely

You will get a lot of insights about your feelings and thoughts through meditation. Your child will also experience these things and may want to express it.

Ask your child after the meditation what he/she experienced or felt. Let them get rid of everything that’s bothering them.

Step 5: Be consistent

As you do it more frequently; you will build a habit for you and your kid that will benefit you both. Reward them after each meditation.

Make it a fun experience instead of something they must do. Don’t push it.

Step 6: Be calm and let it be

Again, don’t push it and don’t expect anything. You want to get your child into meditation for kids so he/she can benefit from it in the long run. But you can’t decide for your kid if he/she wants it or not.

You will have to educate yourself first before you can train your child. Read books or articles about meditation for kids and try your best.

Conclusion

Here’s a summary of the key points you have learned by reading this article:

  • You now know what (guided) meditation for kids is.
  • You know why it’s so important to include (guided) meditation into your and your kids’ life.
  • You know how (guided) meditation for kids helps improve the learning ability of your kid.
  • You know how (guided) meditation for kids helps improve the social skills of your kid.
  • You have the steps you can follow to implement meditation for kids into your kids’ life.

Good luck and start meditating with your kids!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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