Do your children have a balanced diet of play?

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Can playthings help children express themselves?

Two generations: parents and youngsters. One is tech-obsessed, with a short attention span, who find it difficult to talk about their feelings. The other is their children.

Whatever their own addiction to social media or the demands of day-to-day life, parents are desperate for their sons and daughters to have a more balanced approach to life. They want them to expend less hour tucked behind a screen on their own, and more out and about playing with friends or enjoying the board game they were bought for Christmas.

These demands, not always backed up with research, have been noted and developed by schools, many of which run mindfulness sessions for even the youngest infants, helping them to settle down ready to learn after whizzing around the playground.

They have also been seized on by toy manufacturers, for whom biding pacify may carry on profit making.

“Anything that encourages emotional play should be valued, ” says Natasha Crookes from the British Toy and Hobby Association( BTHA ), who says mindfulness is an emerging theme in the sector.

“It can help children to sleep better and discuss their feelings more.”

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Media captionMindfulness is being used to help children’s mental wellbeing in schools.

New toys aimed at this marketplace could be found this week on the fringes of the BTHA’s Toy Fair in London’s Olympia – the UK’s biggest toy industry trade fair.

On the smaller stalls, beside the global giants promoting licensed movie spin-off toys and games, were people like Fernando Del Rio of Magic Box Toys.

He was there to show off Moji Pops – new pocket money collectable characters, being launched in the UK this March. The face on each figure swivels to expose one of 12 different expressions.

Image caption Moji Pops are the latest in the collectable furor

“It is all about emotions and constructing it easy for children to express them, ” he says.

The aim is to encourage youngsters to talk about how they are feeling and create narratives utilizing the characters in front of them. The target audience is aged between four and eight.


How to be more mindful

Notice the everyday – engage your senses, for example to think about the food you feed and the feeling of the air moving past as you walk Choose a regular time for your practise, for example during your morning commute or on a lunchtime stroll Try seeing things from another perspective. This can be as simple as choosing a different seat at school, college or in a run meeting, or going somewhere new for lunch Watch your thoughts – see them as “mental events” and let them come and go in your intellect, like bus Name your thoughts and feelings to get more awareness, for example recognising “this is anxiety” As well as practising in your day-to-day life, you can set aside time for mindfulness meditation, yoga or tai-chi Image caption These card games are designed to keep players involved Christmas failed to revive flagging toy market Age: 43. Hobby: Lego. Rise of the middle-aged toy fans Image caption Junko launched in December to seize on the reusable tendency

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