#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge- Day 21 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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Congratulations! You have made it to the last day of the #21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge! Today we will end on a positive note and show gratitude!

We are a world of moaners. Whinging and moaning about everything from the weather to government is a favourite pastime of the young and old alike. We focus on the bad and are surprised by the good. This leads to a vicious cycle of negativity which then becomes the focus of our attention and anything positive is seen as just a fluke or fleeting moment.

By taking the time to be grateful and lingering in the grateful moment, we start to be mindful of the good things in the world. We start to see more positive things; positivity breeds positivity. We start to see the good in people, we crave it and, when we see it, we want to repeat even more good.

This MUST be modeled to children so that they can see the positive effects that gratitude can have on their personal lives.

Today, the challenge is a FAMILY challenge. I declare today, #RandomActsOfKindness Day!

We get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life; mindlessly moving through the day without a real thought to what is happening to others around you. Today, our mindfulness practice with our children will focus on others. We will do this through random acts of kindness.

During the day, have the family randomly do some form of kindness for another person. It does not require any money, only your own free act of kindness.

If you are finding it hard to come up with some ideas, here are some to get you started.

  • Make a Thank You card for someone thanking them for their love, caring, help or any other thing that person has done for you.
  • Do a chore for a sibling or parent without asking.
  • Smile at a stranger that is looking sad.
  • Tweet or Facebook message a genuine compliment to three people right now.
  • While you’re out, compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is.
  • When everyone around you is gossiping about someone, be the one to butt in with something nice.
  • Write a positive note and leave it in a random place to be discovered by one or more people.
  • Email or write to a person who has made a difference in your life.
  • Let someone into your lane on your way to or from work.
  • Give someone an unexpected hug!

Have each family member try to do at least three RAKs during the day.

I hope that these past 21 days have given you and your child and opportunity to develop mindful practices that are having a positive effect on your lives.

Please let me know how you are getting on over time.

You can continue to follow via:

Blog: Education’s Voice https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @Ed_Tmprince

Facebook: Education’s Voice- Mindfulness https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/

 

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge- Day 20 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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Hands-on and creative mindful activities that involve both tangible objects and nature allows for a playful and fun activity that encourages mindfulness. Thich Nhat Hanh developed this specific meditation, Pebble Meditation,  for children that engages the mind, develops gratitude, relieves stress, increases concentration and helps children deal with emotions.

How to do a Pebble Meditation:

    1. Have your child collect four pebbles, rocks or shells before the meditation. (This could be part of a Mindful Walk.) Ensure that have something to store their pebbles in so that the meditation can be redone as often as desired.
    2. They are to sit up straight and relax; placing the four pebbles in front of them.
    3. The child picks up the first pebble and says, “Breathing in, I see myself as a flower. Breathing out, I feel fresh. Flower, fresh “(3 breaths). The words “flower, fresh” are repeated quietly for three in and out breaths. Repeat with the three other pebbles.
    4. Breathing in I see myself as a mountain, breathing out, I feel solid.” Mountain, solid. (3 breaths)
    5. Breathing in I see myself as still, clear water, breathing out, I reflect things as they really are.” Clear water, reflecting. (3 breaths)
    6. Breathing in I see myself as space, breathing out, I feel free.” Space, free. (3 breaths)

 

Top Tips:

  • You can start and end the meditation with the ringing of a bell or chime.
  • As your child learns the meditation, they can lead the others in the meditation.

 

Further resources to go with the Pebble Meditation can be found here:

 

  • After they become confident in this meditation, encourage your child to come up with their own meditation for the four pebbles, ie loving kindness, gratitude, friends, etc.

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge- Day 19 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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Studies have shown that progressive muscle relaxation helps a person to relax and become more calm and in control. The results revealed that there was a reduction in the levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress.

High cortisol decreases immunity,  increases abdominal fat deposition, breaks down muscle, bone, and connective tissue and inhibits thyroid hormone activation.

Squish and Relax Meditation is a progressive muscle relaxation method that teaches children how to relax your muscles through a two-step process; tension (squish) and then relaxing particular muscle groups. The exercise helps children to lower their overall stress levels and relax.

  1. Have the children either sit comfortably with their hands in their lap or lie down with their arms to their sides.
  2. Play soft, gentle music in the background.
  3. Have them take a deep breath; breathe in for 5 counts, hold for one count and exhale for 8 counts.
  4. Direct them to become aware of their body in a gentle voice.
  5. Instruct them to slowly move their awareness noticing the different sensations from their:
    1. Face and Nose- Scrunch up tightly.
    2. Jaw- Bite down hard.
    3. Arms and Hands- Squeeze tightly like you are trying to pick up a heavy weight.
    4. Arms and Shoulders- Squeeze tightly like you are holding a heavy load.
    5. Stomach- Tighten your tummy like you are trying to get your belly button to touch your spine.
    6. Legs and Feet- Squeeze tightly like you are trying to hold a ball between your knees.
    7. Whole Body- Squish your entire body as tightly as you can and on release allow your body to go limp.
  6. Have children hold all poses for a count of five and release completely.
  7. Have the children remain at rest for a few more deep breaths, being aware of your body breathing.
  8. Discuss with the children how their bodies felt during and after. What did they notice? How could this help them when they are angry, upset or anxious?

Top Tip:

  • Want a script? Use an internet search engine and look for “Progressive Muscle Relaxation script for children” or search on YouTube for “Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Children”.

Don’t forget to share your child’s #mindfulmoment and successes in the comments, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge – Day 18 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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When we are mindful, we are being in the moment. We are not racing ahead and planning the future nor are we rehashing what has happened in the past. Children, for the most part , are naturally mindful; immersing themselves in the moment is very empowering and relaxing.

Today’s challenge is to support children in the immersion of nature, to see nature’s beauty and to create works of art that emphasises that beauty that can be seen in shape, structure, texture and colour.

Nature Mandalas

(If, for religious reasons you find mandalas inappropriate, choose whatever shape you desire.)

1- Get a feel for where the child wants to create their mandala. Do they want it in the grass, on a table, in the sand, etc ?

2- They are to spend time searching the area for the materials they want to use. Encourage the exploration, taking time to really look at the colours and shapes and really feeling the textures. Encourage a variety while also encouraging them to tell you about what they see, feel, smell and hear.

3- Once they feel they have enough materials collected, have them begin to create their mandala. Each mandala reveals itself gradually through the process of creation.

4- Once the mandala is complete, encourage them to explain what they have done and why. Ask them how the process made them feel and how do they feel when they look at the creation. Spend some time just admiring the creation and enjoying the art of nature.

5- Have your child take a picture or draw their creation as a reminder of being mindful and in the moment.

Don’t forget to share your child’s #mindfulmoment and successes in the comments, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).

 

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge- Day 17 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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Mindfulness is an integrative, mind-body based approach that helps people change the way they think and feel about their experiences, especially stressful experiences. Giving children this life skill when they are young supports their over all social and emotional development.

Many of us hold stress in our shoulders. It is like a primitive form of contracting our muscles to spring into the fight or flight mode.

Today’s challenge is to get your child to recognise the tension that builds up in their bodies, particularly in the shoulders. When they relax their shoulders and accept the the feeling of restfulness that accompanies they become more relaxed and mindful.

Shoulder Relaxation (How to explain it to your child.)

– Breath deeply and, on the exhale, allow your shoulders to drop towards the floor as if someone is pressing them downward.

– Continue to breathe deeply for five breaths, allowing your shoulders to slightly rise on the inhale and then completely drop on the exhale.

– Recognise how the muscles feel in the shoulder and neck. Remember, do not judge the tension. Just recognise it is there and release the tension.

Don’t forget to share your child’s #mindfulmoment and successes in the comments, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge – Day 16 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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Emotional Intelligence is the capacity of individuals to recognize your own, and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour.

The greater a person’s emotional intelligence, the better a person can deal with stressful situations in a way that does not escalate the emotion but allows

The first step in developing emotional intelligence is to get children to understand that their emotions are valid. It is not bad to have emotions, good or bad. It is how they deal with and react to these emotions that makes a difference.

Today’s challenge is to talk about emotions like you talk about the weather with your child. This is one you should do OFTEN and EVERY day!

Ask your child,

-What emotion are you feeling right now?
-How does it feel? Is this a good emotion to have in control?
-How can we change emotions?

Validate emotions when you see them in your child and give them a mindful strategy to use?
Example:
-“You are upset because you hurt yourself when you fell down. It is ok to be upset. Now, you need to breathe to get control of that emotion.”
-“You are angry at your sister for disturbing your game. It is ok to be angry. Now, you need to do the starfish hand meditation to get control of that emotion.”

Don’t forget to share your child’s #mindfulmoment and successes in the comments, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness – Day 15 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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Developing mindfulness has a lot to do with shifting of perspectives. Humans have some deeply laid neuropathways that allow us to fall into a habit of reactions. This is particularly true with children.

They don’t even realise they are reacting; they just do it. Those automatic responses just more deeply ingrains responses; many which are negative or destructive to their (and your) own health and well-being.

This anagram is a good, quick mindful strategy for children to use with parents able to easily remind them with one clear word, STOP.

10 Second Mindfulness- STOP

This is a simple but effective strategy to refocus our attention.

S- Stop what you are doing.
T- Take a deep breathe. Breathe in for a count of 5, fold for a count of one and exhale for a count of 8.
O- Observe what is happening around you at this moment.
P- Proceed with what you were doing.

Repeat at least five times today at times of calm and then introduce it during the “melt downs” as well.

Don’t forget to share your child’s #mindfulmoment and successes in the comments, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge -Day 14- Developing Mindfulness in Children

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As you will remember, mindfulness is about focusing on the present moment. Children and adults alike can find this purposeful focus extremely difficult. Our brains are humming with a million different thoughts. Multi-tasking is seen as the norm and not the exception. The adrenalin coming from this constant state of motion makes us addicted to the stimulus and leads us feeling lazy if we stop and focus on just one thing.

Mindful Listening allows our brain to focus on the present moment instead of the “what to do next” syndrome!

Basic mindful listening is simple and needs a minimum amount of equipment and time.

This is a nice guided mindful listening meditation created just for children.

How To:

1- Find a quiet space for your child to sit.

2- Have them take three deep mindful breaths.

3- Play this Guided Mindful Listening Meditation by MindscapesRecords.com
http://youtu.be/oj9bX5DqggI (5:33 minutes)

Afterwards, discuss how they are feeling. How does their body feel?

Don’t forget to share your child’s #mindfulmoment and successes in the comments, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge – Day 13 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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Children have a natural mindfulness, particularly when it comes to nature. Their inquisitive minds allow them to focus on the details of nature, noting the lines, colours and movement of the outdoors.

Today the challenge is one that capitalises on this natural inquisitiveness. It is a simple Cloud Meditation.

How to do a Cloud Meditation:

-Find a comfortable position outside. It can be sitting or lying down as long as their view point is of the clouds and they are comfortable.

– Begin by having them take 5 deep mindful breaths (The snake breaths are perfect for this.)

– Then they are to stare at the clouds. Guide them in the beginning with simple questions:
Are the clouds fluffy or thin?
Are they moving?
Are they taking shapes of things you know?
Are they all the same colour?
What about the blue sky behind it?

– Encourage this quiet contemplation for as long as they can allowing for peaceful solitude as they observe and breathe.

Once they are finished, discuss how they feel or how they felt. What were they thinking?

If it is a rainy day, here is a link to a lovely Cloud Meditation that can be done inside.
https://youtu.be/cf1P4WuQ8Lk

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness – Day 12 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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We all remember the hours we spent as children colouring in pictures of animals, super heroes, flowers and beautiful nature scenes.

I recently read a study were the researchers measured the anxiety levels of children before and after giving time to colour in mandalas and other pattern sheets compared to anxiety levels before and after free form colouring where children draw and colour their own patterns. The time spent colouring pattern sheets showed a significant decrease in anxiety as compared to free form which showed no difference to anxiety levels.

The act of colouring allows the brain to relax and focus on one thing; being in the moment of colouring. It allows the brain time to rest and recuperate. Surely, there must be something to this if, we as adults, are returning to this strategy to cope with our own daily stressful lives. For people who find traditional quiet meditation difficult, this form of active meditation has many of the same effects on the body.

The key to Mindful Colouring is to give your child a nice space, some quiet meditation music playing in the background, a colouring sheet, colours, markers or pencil colours.

Here are some links to free printable mindfulness colouring sheets you can use.

Affirmation Colouring Sheets- http://www.shambalakids.com/images/FREE%20Mindful%20Coloring%20Book.pdf

Mandala Sheets- http://www.mandala-4free.de/en/index.htm

Mandala Sheets- http://www.coloringcastle.com/mandala_coloring_pages.html

Afterwards, talk to your child about how they were feeling before, during or after colouring.

Try to have several sheets or even a whole colouring book around. Make sure it is age appropriate as designs that are too intricate can be a bit too much for younger children.

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge – Day 11 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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For some people, Yoga and Mindfulness are synonymous. However, one can practise mindfulness without doing Yoga. But, Yoga can add a different dimension to your mindfulness practice.
Yoga helps children to slow down, chill out, relax their minds and exercise their bodies. It also lowers their heart rate, and creates self-discipline and control. In Yoga, they practise self-regulation of breathing that is a natural relaxation response in humans.

You don’t have to be a Yoga master to include Yoga into the day. All you need to know is the basic Yoga poses which can easily be found free on Youtube.

Today’s challenge is Garden Yoga! It is a fun and creative way to bring yoga into their mindful practice.

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Finish the garden yoga experience by getting your child to lie on your back with their arms and legs spread out in a Resting Pose. Have them to close their eyes (if that’s comfortable) and take a few deep breaths.

* Note: The Yoga poster and idea came from http://childhood101.com/2016/04/yoga-for-kids-a-walk-through-the-garden/.

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge – Day 10 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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The goal of Mindful Doodling is to fully engage with your doodles in a meditative way. It requires slowing down, focusing on the paper and pen and doodling repeatively with full intent. Thus, you become present in the moment.

Thus, mindful doodling:

focuses the mind
calms the body and mind
relieves stress
encourages relaxation
increases your sense of wellbeing
replaces negative or bored habits
allows you to be present and aware

Materials:

– markers, pens, pencil colours or crayons

– plain paper

How to do Mindful Doodling?

You don’t need to have any drawing skills for this to work. (This is a good point as I DO NOT have good drawing skills!) There really isn’t any right or wrong way to mindfully doodle. It is not about the end result but about the process that is being taken.

1- Draw, by freehand, a border around the outer edge.
2- In this step you can do one of three things:
Draw a string inside your border. ( A string is a simple curved line/squiggle that        will lend structure to your design as your pattern will emerge accordingly from the contours of the string. The string divides the border into sections.)
Draw straight or angled lines free hand within the border dividing the area into smaller sections.
Choose a corner of the border and begin step 3.
3- Start creating your doodle with patterns drawn with a pen or marker along the contours of the string, lines or border. Allow the pattern to reveal itself naturally.

There is no right or wrong. You can use very simple shapes, lines, dots, squiggles and more. Shade as you desire and be mindful of and deliberate with each stroke.
Keep going until you are finished. You will know when this is.

Enjoy your creation!

Remember: There are NO mistakes. So, no erasing is allowed. Embrace the mark you have made and use it to continue your meditative journey of mindfully doodling.

Top Tips:

– You can use any size paper you desire. It can be as small as a post it note or as large as a poster. It is up to you. However, I suggest that in the beginning you start on a smaller sheet as you get the hang of this mindfulness activity.
-The finer the points of the pens/markers, the finer the detail will be in the doodles.

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge – Day 9 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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When we think of mindfulness, many times our thoughts go directly to formal meditations. Guided meditations can be an integral part of developing a mindfulness practice; but you can also cultivate mindfulness informally by focusing their attention on the moment to moment sensations of individual activities. Doing one thing at a time and giving it your full attention allows a person to slow down the process and be fully present in the moment as it unfolds and allowing recognition of all senses.

Building Stone Towers

Stone Tower Building is like a mini-meditation. It gives children the opportunity to be quiet, think and focus just on what they are doing. Their silent fixed attention is fully in the moment of balancing the stones.

Materials required:
– A collection of stones of different sizes, ensure that a large amount have some flatness on each side. But also include a variety of colours and roundness.
– A few pictures of stone towers so that children get the idea of the task and a challenge, “How many stones can you use to make a tower?”
– A place to do the building
– Optional: a camera so the child can take a picture of their tower or paper and pencils so they can make a sketch of their finished tower.

Top Tips:

– Remind children to practice active, slow, deep breathing when they are stacking.
– To keep calm, remind the children that if the tower falls, to close their eyes, take three mindful breaths and start again

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challeng – Day 8 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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The key to mindfulness is focusing on the present moment calmly and accepting the feelings and thoughts and bodily sensations. It is our way to taking control of ourselves even when things around us are happening without our control.

In a child’s life, there is little that they have control over. When they get up, what they wear, what they eat, what they watch, etc. controlled or semi-controlled. Then, add the actions and reactions of other children to situations and there is a perfect storm. Our job is to help them realise there are things they can control and giving them strategies be aware and mindful of their minds and bodies; learning how to live in a chaotic world.

Mindful eating is one way that allows a child to become aware of the positive and nurturing foods we eat by using our senses. By using all of our senses in choosing to eat food that supports our bodies growth and development, we are acknowledging the foods we like or dislike without making a fuss about the taste. Additionally, they become aware of signals the body gives us to lets us know we are hungry or we are full. So, in addition to the mindfulness with the eating of foods, we also start to see food in a different way; as nourishment.

As an adult, you may choose to eat an entire meal in a mindful way. However, for children, the process could be very tedious, particularly in the beginning.

Mindful Eating Exercise:

(The parent needs o verbally guide the children through the exercise.)

You can use a raisin, a slice of apple or orange, pomegranate seed, dried fruit, a piece of chocolate or any food you wish.

1- Have the children LOOK at the food they will be eating. Silently, they are to observe what it looks like? What do you notice?

What colour is it?

Is it small or large?

2- Have the child smell the food.

Does it have a smell?

What does it smell like?

3- Have the child direct their attention to how it feels.

Can You squeeze it?

Is it firm or soft?

Is it smooth, sticky or rough?

Warm or cold?

Does it make any sounds?

4- Have the child, very slowly, put the piece of food in their mouth but not chew it! Leave it on the tongue.

How does it feel on the tongue?

Can you taste anything?

Does it smell differently in your mouth?

5- Have the child begin to chew slowly; one mindful chew at a time.

Does the taste change?

How does it feel in the mouth?

6- Try to get them notice when they swallow, and see how far you can feel the food into your body.

7- Finally, discuss what they felt during the activity or turn on some meditation music and allow them to write about their experience.

Try this with a number of different foods either in one sitting or over a period of time.

In addition, encourage them to mindfully eat their first bite of lunch each day. It is lovely to see children mindfully eating their food.

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge – Day 7 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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An important part of teaching children mindfulness strategies is the understanding, identifying and accepting of emotions by the child. We all have emotions and they can range from blissfully happy to desperate despair to full blown anger. These and other emotions that come between can be just as mystifying and hard to control.

How many times have you told a child to, “Calm Down!”? You tell them to breathe. But, sometimes the emotions are far to scary. The fight or flight reflex is strong and being able to identify the emotions they feel can be very difficult. They need to and want to understand their emotions. It is once they can identify what they are feeling that they can independently identify the mindful strategy that will work for them in that moment.

This is where the Mind Jar comes in! You may have seen it called different names: calm jar, mind bottle,glitter bottle, sensory bottle, stress bottle,etc. It really is a simple idea and easy to make.

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How to make a Mind Jar:
(There are many useful guides online to show you how to make this. I will share what I have done.)

1- Find a clean a small drinks bottle.
2- Fill the jar/bottle 3/4 full with warm water. (Not hot!)
3- Add a few drops of food colouring of your choice.
4- Add the glitter. I like using the finest glitter I can find and use a combination of glitter glue and loose glitter. The warm water helps to dilute the glue but the glue also thickens the water; allowing the glitter to stay suspended for a little longer.
5- Add water to fill the jar/bottle and close tightly. (Add a few drops of glue in the lid to keep the lid tight.)
6- Give it a good shake and watch the glitter swirl around the bottle and slowly settle.

Top Tip: at first, glitter will still want to float to the top. Over a few days keep giving the bottle good hard shakes. The glitter will settle to the bottom.

How to use a Mind Jar:

1- Shake the jar and then set it down. (This particularly useful when they are upset, angry or anxious. The shaking helps get frustrations out.)
2- As the watch the glitter swirling, do deep belly breathes; allowing yourself to calm and settle as the glitter calms and settles.
3- Repeat as needed.

You should explain to children that the swirling glitter is like what happens in our heads when we are upset, mad, angry, anxious, etc. The thoughts swirling about all are mixed, moving quickly in and out of our mind. Breathing allows us to calm those thoughts, focusing our mind only on the glitter as it slows and settles, like our thoughts; so we can identify the emotions we are having and make the right choices on what to do next.

Here is a lovely video on the same idea that you may want to share with children.
Mind in a jar- Planting Seeds- The Power of Mindfulness for Children
http://youtu.be/QNmMH6tqiMc

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