Frogs And Spaghetti: Mindfulness With Children – An Interview

frogs and spaghetti mindfulness with children

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Today I’m honoured to be chatting with my good friend and work colleague Angela!
Angela and I have bonded over a shared interest in all things personal development, mindfulness and meditation.  She’s also my meditation retreat buddy!  
Angela is always full of good tips and advice.  I particularly wanted to share with you her experience of the benefits of practising mindfulness with her 11-year-old son Jake.
I hope you enjoy our chat!
 Angela & Jake-1


Can you tell us a bit about how you first discovered mindfulness and meditation?

I’ve been doing it for quite some time now so it’s a bit hard to remember!  I think I first came across meditation during a yoga class.  It was a Hatha yoga class and was a bit different to yoga I’d done in the past.

What, like standing on your head and things?!

Yes, it was a lot more gentle than that!  It was more about breathing and mindful movement.  
I learned more about meditation itself during the online mindfulness summit a few years ago.

I really enjoyed the summit too

It was good listening to all the different speakers and learning about different types of meditation to try out.

How would you say your meditation practice has evolved since?

I was a bit sporadic with it for a while!

Me too!

I now try to be mindful on a daily basis. First thing in the morning, when I get out of bed I try to focus on my feet on the floor and how they feel.  
It can be a bit challenging when I’m tired though!  
Now we have the dog, I go out into the garden and try to listen to sounds without naming them.

That’s so hard to do!

I know, I’m like ‘I can hear birds singing’…oh damn, I named the birds!!

I find focusing on sounds relaxes me so quickly though, don’t you?

Definitely, it’s a really good way to be mindful as you can do it anywhere!


Do you mainly try to build mindfulness into your life or do your practice more ‘formally’ too?

I do guided meditations for ‘formal practice’ but again I’m a bit sporadic with it!  If I’m meditating for more than a few minutes, I prefer a guided meditation so I use Insight Timer for that.

What are your favourite guided meditations?

I mainly use meditation for relaxation so I would say the body scan and breathing meditations.  I did try one where you had to imagine you were a mountain but I found that a bit difficult!

Yes!  I’ve tried that one too.  I found the same thing, I couldn’t decide which bit of the mountain to be!

For me it was that I couldn’t settle on one mountain, I kept thinking of different ones!

There are so many different visualisation meditations aren’t there?  I found the one where you had to imagine you were a tree easier.

The leaves on the stream one we did on one of the retreats was nice too.

We’ve chatted before about how helpful you’ve found mindfulness practice to be with your son Jake.  Can you tell us a bit more about Jake?

Yes, Jake is now 11 years old and he has a sensory processing disorder and autism.  Anxiety goes along with this.  
He’s had a lot of issues with anxiety from being small.  He can get very anxious and stressed about all kinds of everyday situations.

How did you start meditating with Jake?

We first started doing it when he was about 7 or 8.  He has always been keen and enthusiastic to do it. We started off doing it for short periods and have gradually built up the time and he can now sit for about 20 minutes.  
We had a CD called Sitting Still Like A Frog and also found a meditation called the Spaghetti Test.
We also read The Little Book of Mindfulness together and practiced some of the exercises in the book.

What benefits have you and Jake found?

It definitely helps him to relax and to feel less anxious about things.  We do it at night and it helps him (and me) to sleep.  
Before, his anxiety was affecting him at school and would get so bad that he couldn’t sleep or eat. Things are much better now.


What tips would you give to anyone thinking of trying mindfulness with children?

I would suggest starting with short periods like we did.  Do it together and make it fun.  
Try different types of meditation and see what suits best.  
Most importantly, don’t force the issue, be led by the child.
Another thing I do with Jake if he is becoming anxious is to get him to spot 5 things he can see, 5 things he can hear and 5 things he can feel.  It helps to calm him and bring him back into the present.

Is there anything else you can recommend for parents who have a child on the autistic spectrum. (Or who think they may have?)

The first port of call is the child’s school who should be supporting.  Also, check out what services are available in your local area.  We were lucky to find Daisy Chain who have provided masses of help and support.  There are similar organisations in other towns too.

Anything else you can tell us about?

On the personal development front, I’m trying out positive affirmations.

I’m doing a bit of that too, how’s it going?

It does feel a bit weird at first and it’s quite hard to recognise the negative thought patterns in order to replace them with a positive!

I’ve found the same thing.  I spent a week trying to work out what my limiting beliefs were!

Once you have them, the trick is to replace them with a positive message that’s relevant to you.  Also to make sure you say it in the present tense.  

So, how about the one we both do where we think we say stupid things?

You could replace that with something along the lines of ‘I’m smart and intelligent’.

And say it out loud in the mirror every morning?


I have, up to now, been a bit sceptical about affirmations to be honest, but I’m going to give it a try!

Thank you so much, Angela, for sharing your story of meditation and mindfulness with children with us.  I’m sure readers of The Little Blog Of Positivity are going to find it useful.

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  1. Anonymous

    Lovely article. Thank you for sharing . Unfortunately I couldn’t get the link to the children’s meditations to work.

  2. Loniesha

    Love this continuation of mindful meditation! This is a really interesting take as I’ve worked with children with autism. It’s something that should be incorporated into the program! Love love love!

  3. Geraldine

    It’s so lovely to see the power of mindful meditation and its benefits for children, not only adults! Especially with the way things are nowadays, it is so common to have such high anxiety even at young ages. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  4. Chloe Chats

    Great post <3 I'm the exact same with sound being so relaxing to me. Often when I'm feeling anxious or feel like I may have a panic attack, I usually close my eyes and focus on all the sounds around me – it's a great distraction for me as well as really calming me down! It's great that mindfulness not only helps adults but children too 🙂

    Chloe xx

  5. Kelly

    Hi honey

    I think I would really enjoy yoga. I need to start relaxing more abs letting bad energy go

    Thank you for sharing xx

    1. Alison

      I’ve done a bit of yoga but Angela has done more, she tells me it’s very relaxing, particularly the Hatha yoga 🙂

  6. Rachel

    This was very interesting. I had never thought of it this way. Thank you so much for sharing a new prospective

  7. Abby Heird

    What a great read, Alison! Thank you, Angela, for sharing your ways and wisdom! I love the idea of waking up in the morning and focusing on your feet and how they feel. I am going to try this. I am not amazing at meditation so I love to read any tips that will help me progress. I think it is really amazing how far you’ve come with your son. What an amazing way to practice being still and mindful. For all kids, it is hard to be still for so long. This is truly amazing!

    1. Alison

      Thanks Abby! There are definitely lots of ways to practice meditation that don’t involve sitting ‘formally’. Let us know how you get on!

  8. Shaun Cassidy

    Meditation and Mindfulness is very much front of mind for me these days.

    And interesting this post came to me after having a conversation at an office lunch on Friday with one lady on my team talking about how she is dealing with her 7 year old daughters anxiety – not so much meditation as Tim Ferriss ‘Fear Setting, if you have seen that TED talk…

    And then a few weeks ago I enjoyed a 4 day Vedic Meditation course in Bondi here in Sydney. At the Information night the week before, one of the attendees was a young mum wanting to see if she could enroll her 7 year old son who was apparently unable to sit still or be calm in any way.
    The Meditation centre offers free classes for kids, and they turn it into a game. eyes open. I think he said they may just integrate it in to their day to day play. Only catch was that there had to be one of the parents who had done the Vedic Meditation Training.

    You and Angela soons like 2 peas in a Pod. BRILLIANT!

    Thanks for sparking my day!


    1. Alison

      Thanks, Shaun. Sounds like the meditation centre you attended is forward thinking in this area. Angela told me that the local organisation she attends with Jake for his autism didn’t offer anything, although she has suggested it as something that has worked with Jake. I’m sure over time it will become more widespread 🙂 And yes, Angela and I never stop talking when we get together!!

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