Most Read: Parent Tips

Building Our World: Women Ar…

Meet local women who are paving the way to careers in archit... Read more

A Salute to Special Olympics

Last December Cierra Winn swept her long chestnut hair over ... Read more

Growing Up Gardening

Finding time to play outside is a challenge for today’s chil... Read more

Changing for the Better

Early on a recent Sunday morning near Kids’ Cove at Mount Tr... Read more

Doulas on Duty

You’re a few months along in your pregnancy and beginning to... Read more

Getting Better with Art

The inpatient playroom at the Children’s Hospital of the Kin... Read more

Cheers to Volunteers

Learn how volunteering helps the community and adds meaning ... Read more

My Mentor, My Friend

Kids need adult role models to look up to and trust. Parents... Read more

Set Sail with Sea Scouts

Something exciting is happening in Tidewater. Here, where th... Read more

A Heart for Kids

After a successful battle with cervical cancer, Tracy LaGatt... Read more

Connecting with Horses

In this more-than-one-horse town, kids and adults take pleas... Read more

Growing with Gymnastics

Gymnastics is a sport of strength, dexterity, and grace, a s... Read more

Kiddies & Kitties

There is nothing so heartwarming as when a family visits an ... Read more

Parenting with No Regrets

My son just turned 18, so he is no longer legally a child. I... Read more

Explore Kid-Friendly Art

Every family has that embarrassing museum story. The one whe... Read more

Explore the World with NATO

When NATO Festival organizers realized Luxembourg would be t... Read more

A Gift of Life

At the age of five, Shutong Hao (“Tong Tong”) had already un... Read more

Learning from WHRO

When my oldest was six, he came to me with a cape and a pict... Read more

Tips for Kids Dining Out

Going out to eat with your children should be a relaxing and... Read more

Sea and Sky

Dear Friends, I was lucky to grow up on the shores of Sandb... Read more

Both kids and their parents can benefit by using mindfulness techniques to become self-aware in stressful situations. Both kids and their parents can benefit by using mindfulness techniques to become self-aware in stressful situations.
2023 Oct

Mindfulness for Kids

Learn how parents can use imagination and movement to connect with kids in calming ways.

Like many children in 2020, author Zoe Twitt's five-year-old son struggled to adjust to the Covid-19 pandemic. At the time, his family lived just a block from a hospital in New York City, where sirens blared day and night. The sudden switch to virtual learning, mask wearing, and social isolation caused him to experience anxiety.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “as many as 1 out of 5 children experience a mental disorder in a given year,” including ADHD, anxiety and depression, Tourette syndrome, among others.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also reported that children experienced increased irritability, sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression since the beginning of the pandemic.

Mindfulness strategies are key to dealing with stress in today’s world. Learning how to address big feelings in the moment can help prevent greater issues from arising. Both kids and their parents can benefit by using mindfulness techniques to become self-aware in stressful situations.

Sara Zandford, MSW, a current resident with Beach Therapy & Consulting completing her hours for licensure, explains that anxiety comes from worrying about future events or something that may have already happened in the past. “We’re kind of everywhere instead of being right in the moment,” she said. “So mindfulness is all about trying to bring us back there.”

Thankfully, there’s no shortage of resources to help us become more mindful here in Hampton Roads. Read on to learn how parents can use imagination and movement to connect with kids in calming ways.

Exploring Common Fears with Stories

“Adelaide and the Cosmic Rescue Squad”
Zoe Twitt and Angus
Zoe Twitt and her son created imaginative stories together to help him deal with his anxiety.

Eventually, Zoe's son and his family relocated to Virginia Beach, where Zoe hoped to find new ways of alleviating the anxieties caused by the pandemic. At bedtime, Zoe would come up with imaginative stories together with her son, exploring the different feelings and outcomes as they went along. Soon after, Zoe was inspired to create the children’s adventure series “Adelaide and the Cosmic Rescue Squad.”

“I’m somebody who’s always been a little bit anxious. Even as a child, I didn’t know what that was,” said Zoe. “I didn’t want other kids to grow up without an understanding of mental health. The earlier we start, the better.”

Throughout the book series, readers follow Adelaide and her friends as they experience scenarios that kids face every day–stage fright, swimming, fear of the dark, and more. Using calming tools like breath focus, visualization, and awareness, Zoe’s characters teach readers how to overcome these challenges and practice these skills in real life.

For example, in the first book, the characters knit their own warm, golden bubble to conquer their fear of the dark. “The golden bubble meditation was one that somebody let me borrow with her permission. It’s supposed to be very grounding and securing,” explained Zoe.
Younger children might not be able to sit still for a full story, so Zoe’s books all come with a QR code for the free audio book, which comes in handy to keep kids engaged while doing other activities as well.

Ultimately, learning healthy ways to manage stress is Zoe’s goal with her books. “We’re only as healthy as our nervous system,” she said, “It’s important for kids to learn how to be mindful and regulate their nervous systems.”

The first two books of Zoe Twitt’s series are available now. To purchase and explore upcoming releases of “Adelaide & the Cosmic Rescue Squad,” visit

Tips for Modeling Good Behavior

Courtesy Michele Tyron, CHKD Community Outreach Coordinator
Parent and Child
Parents and their children can practice calming skills together during everyday moments.

Think about the last time your child threw a tantrum. What was your response? Were you stressed out? Angry? Did you discipline the behavior, or did you find a solution together with your child?

Parents and their children can practice calming skills together during everyday moments in order to apply them when it counts, says Michele Tryon, CCLS, Community Outreach and Engagement coordinator with CHKD. When parents are able to see a child’s behavior as communicating a need, they can learn to respond appropriately.

The programs and webinars hosted by CHKD focus on the relationship between parent and child. “It starts with the parent,” said Michele. “We come into our composure, and then we respond to the child’s needs from a place of more rational or higher reasoning. It’s really modeling for our children healthy ways to cope with stress, upset, and conflict.”

Michele explained that parents should consider the impact of their responses to their children’s behavior. For example, if we want children to learn how to handle stressful situations in a healthy way, our response to their stressful behavior should model the same behavior we would like to see from them.

For kids, mindfulness goes beyond the meditation and breath work that adults are often taught. Awareness of their bodies and learning how to name the emotions they are experiencing is the first step in being able to intervene. Sometimes kids can calm down through movement as well, such as snapping fingers, clapping hands, or waving their arms up and down in sync with deep breaths.

“Something that is rhythmic … helps bring them back into regulation, helps bring them back into their body, so they can calm their body down,” said Michele.

Parents can learn more from on-demand programs like “Mindful Moments: Parenting Reset” at CHKD’s website, or join live webinars listed monthly. Be sure to register for “Parenting: Beyond Behaviors” coming up in November at

Groups for Kids & Teens Support Mental Health

Led by Sara Zandford, MSW, with Beach Therapy & Consulting
group therapy
There’s a lot of empowerment and validation that comes from knowing you’re not the only one struggling.

Sara Zandford, who helps kids dealing with trauma, anxiety, and stress at Beach Therapy & Consulting, occasionally leads after-school group meetings for kids and teens to learn mindfulness skills. “I’m a big fan of groups,” she said. “There’s a lot of empowerment and validation that comes from knowing you’re not the only one going through this struggle.”

Through these groups, which will likely be available again next spring, Sara discusses hypothetical situations with kids and asks them to identify what is happening with their bodies in these situations. Maybe their heart is beating fast, or their head feels fuzzy. Learning how to recognize and understand anxious responses helps kids know when to practice their calming skills.

Some activities Sara employs with kids include arts and crafts, talking, and playing games. By applying different experiences, kids (and teens) are able to discover what works best to help them process feelings. “I think a lot of it is playing to different kids’ strengths,” Sara said. “We do a lot of grounding exercises, things that they can do not just in group, but also at home.”

There are lots of ways to seek calmness when life feels chaotic, even for the youngest children. Try an infant yoga class, or maybe go out bird watching. The goal is to keep the mind present and focused on the moment. Count cars with your toddler, or ask your preteen what their body is telling them. Imagine cozy blankets keeping you safe together.

Just be present.

Visit Beach Therapy & Consulting’s website to find out when group sessions are back and reserve your spot! Being a patient at the practice is not a requirement for participation.

For mindfulness ideas to experience with children, visit

Stephanie Allen

Stephanie Allen is the Content Manager & columnist for Tidewater Family Plus. She is a proud Navy wife and mom, a writer, blogger, success coach, and the Communications and Marketing Director for the Military Spouse Advocacy Network. Follow her on Instagram!

Give Your Child a Healthy Start to the School Year

Sponsored Content

Help ensure your child enters the new school year healthy and without delay with these tips from the Virginia Department of Health.