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December 10, 2016


How many times have we wished children could stand still, be quiet, calm and disciplined for even just a few minutes? Does your child seldom or never display these kinds of behaviours? If so, then most probably, your child needs to boost his/her social and emotional skills a bit. One strategy for strengthening social and emotional learning is regular contemplative/meditation practice that helps children focus their minds and calm their bodies. As children experience quiet and stillness, they feel an inner balance, which offsets the over-stimulation. The benefits of such a regular practice can include:

* Increased self-awareness and self-understanding
* Greater ability to relax the body and release physical tension
* Improved concentration and ability to pay attention
* The ability to deal with stress in a more relaxed manner
* Positive thinking with less intrusion of unwelcome thoughts

1. Have a dinnertime quieting ritual

As part of a family ritual around dinnertime, a candle could be lit for a few moments. Take some time and focus on it; this can help the mind to move into a deeper state of calmness and clarity. Before you begin eating, take a turn expressing one thing you are grateful for about the day.

2. Create a peace corner

A peace or calming corner is a special place that you set aside for members of your family. They can go whenever they need calm and stillness and stay there for as long as they want. It could be used when anyone is feeling overwhelmed, stressed, angry, or otherwise out of control emotionally.

3. Teach the ‘’Keep calm’’ activity

This is a four-step breathing activity which comes from the book Emotionally Intelligent Parenting by Elias, Tobias and Friedlander. It can be used whenever your child is upset and self-control is needed. Teach these four simple steps to your child and don’t forget to try it yourself!

a. Tell yourself ‘’Stop and take a look around’’.
b. Tell yourself ‘’Keep calm’’.
c. Take a deep breath through your nose while you count to five, hold it while you count to two and then breathe out through your mouth while you count to five.
d. Repeat these steps until you feel calm.



The last two activities are my own, which I have used with friends’ children and my students:

4. Write it out

Have a post-it note calendar hung on a wall somewhere accessible in your house. Tell your children that every time someone or something upsets them, they can use that calendar to write down their feelings and the reason for them. Immediately after, they should close their eyes and think of anything that makes them feel good. At the end of each week, collect the post-its and discuss with your children about which of these cases really worth being upset for. The key point here is to help them understand that they shouldn’t stress over the little things.

5. Circle around

Sit in a circle and put the person who feels the most negative, stressed, etc, to sit in the centre. Tell that person to close their* eyes and speak out how they feel and why. Then ask that person to take a deep breath. Here’s the moment when you all touch their hands, stroke their hair and give them a big warm hug. If it is your child the one sitting in the centre, try to do that before they go to bed. It will help them sleep fast and like a baby.

My suggestion would be to try out all these activities, play around with them until you find out which one(s) work(s) best for your family. Once you figure this out, make sure you repeat it/them at least twice a week.

*Note: Singular they/their is used here to refer to a single person, whose gender is unknown.


ELIAS, M. J., TOBIAS, S.E. & FRIEDLANDER, B.S., 1999. Emotional intelligence parenting. New York: Three Rivers Press.

LANTIERI, L. & GOLEMAN, D., 2008. Building emotional intelligence: techniques to cultivate inner strength in children. Boulder, Colorado: Sounds True Inc.

Category: articles



About the author



Eva Sakellaridi is an education consultant and a researcher at the University College London (UCL), Institute of Education (IoE). She has a BA in English Language and Literature (2006), a Diploma in TESOL (2010) and a Certificate in Educational Psychology (2011). She also holds a MA in Education with Distinction from the University of Bath (2014). Among Eva’s main broad fields of interest are character education, educational psychology, school leadership and school improvement. Prior to becoming an education consultant, Eva worked in a range of public and private, preschool, primary and secondary educational organisations, universities and charities in a variety of capacities including classroom teacher, remedial teacher, student mentor, education programme manager and deputy school manager. Throughout her teaching career, she has observed that most children acquire academic skills more effortlessly and quicker compared to lifelong skills and has witnessed many and various cases of parental anxiety and concern about children’s character development and learning. As a result, Eva has always used scientific research to explore and personalise old and new pedagogical methods to empower both children and their parents.

Penelope’s Loom


Welcome to “Penelope’s Loom”! This is the name of our collection of educational articles that includes only research-based information on education, educational psychology and parenting, taken from sources such as scientific publications, reviews of research and government reports. Our aim is to offer our readers objective, authentic, scholarly information in a clear and simple way. If you would like to learn more about any of the themes tackled in our articles, feel free to contact us at and we will send you an e-copy of the references and/or further readings.


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