The Caring Feelings activity is a child-friendly version of a Loving Kindness practice, which is a type of meditation that can help your child develop compassion, contentment, and a feeling of well-being.
In a traditional adult Loving Kindness practice, kind thoughts would be sent to the self, to people close to you, to people you feel neutral about, and to people who you are angry or upset with, and extend to the entire world. In our version, we are going to start with someone that your child loves very much, as this is the easiest way to access their kindness. We will end with the self, and, eventually, after this practice becomes familiar, you can try including someone a little bit challenging.
Follow-up: Ask your child or your students how they felt about sending out the caring feelings, especially how it felt sending them to themselves. You might talk about times when they have sent unkind feelings to others or to themselves, and how that felt. Ask if there is anyone else they would like to send caring feelings to before you finish up for the day.
Challenges: Once this activity becomes familiar, try including a person that your child has a hard time with in his kind thoughts. Be sure to avoid anyone that your child finds frightening or is extremely angry at. Instead, try using language like “someone who annoys you” or “someone who has been bugging you lately.”
Daily Practice: Loving Kindness is a wonderful practice to bring into your daily life, as an antidote to the negative thoughts we all have about ourselves from time to time. Encourage your child to send himself kind and caring thoughts throughout the day, especially if he is feeling a little bit down. As the practice gets familiar, you can both experiment with sending kind thoughts to someone after an argument or disagreement. Explain to your child that sending kind thoughts to someone else is a way to help himself feel better, even if he is still upset with the other person.
(Special thanks to Karen Gilmour for the fantastic illustration - learn more about Karen HERE)