I have a high needs child that rarely gives me a moment to catch my breath. He’s always on the go, incredibly demanding, stubborn as can be and often resorts to tantrums when I try and curb his dictator-like tendencies. He challenges all of my fledgling parenting skills on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Because of this, I am always looking for ways to try and bring a little more calm and mindfulness into our lives. The opportunity try out the Zafooz cushions sounded iffy – like why would a cute cushion make a difference? The big surprise was that it ended up actually being good for BOTH of us.
*I received this product for free from Moms Meet to use and post my honest opinions. Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.*
Zafooz gets its name from the term for a standard meditation cushion called a “zafu.” By combining this concept with cute plush animal inspirations, Zafooz aims to create a relatable way to introduce children to simple mindfulness practices.
We were sent the Lotus Ladybug and Mindful Monkey Zafooz cushions to try out and review. The cushions are soft and squishy and perfectly sized for a little kid seat. They also have a little handle on the side for easy portability. The idea is to sit on the cushion and practice being mindful through breathing exercises. There is a great resources page on the Zafooz website to walk to you these exercises and help you guide your child through simple meditations.
My son immediately gravitated toward the Lotus Ladybug, while I claimed the Mindful Monkey. The funny thing is, after reading the descriptions on the website, it was amazing how each of us chose the Zafooz that was more like ourselves. Each Zafooz has its own personality description– the ladybug is described as “ideal for the high spirited, highly sensitive child,” while the monkey is for the “one who enjoys having fun with others but craves their alone time too.”
When I explained what the “new toy” was and what it was for, my son was very intrigued. Since he was used to me doing yoga at home, I decided to go off-script and incorporate some of the breathing exercises he was used to seeing me practice. I have no idea what kind of magic was at work, but not only did he sit there and breathe with me and “let go of all that does not serve you,” but afterwards he got out a book to read and sat back on the cushion. This is not something he normally does. I made sure to get photographic proof:
A lot of frustrations and tantrums stem from a child having a tough time expressing themselves and not understanding how to deal with their emotions. They have so much coming at them and so many feelings to deal with. Being able to breathe and calm themselves down is a valuable skill, and mindfulness is the key.
My son is not good with “self-soothing” and my previous attempts at time-out usually result in a more ramped up extended tantrum. Mindfulness has been proven to promote positive traits in parts of the brain controlled by the prefrontal cortex involving focus and cognitive control. This has a positive impact on developing skills like self regulation and reasoning while decreasing anxiety. When practiced routinely, mindfulness has shown to reduce hyperactive behaviors and improve concentration.
So while the Zafooz was designed as a daily mindfulness tool, I found it to be a great tantrum soother. My son’s tantrums are at level 11, and sometimes it seems like he is out of his mind and so caught up in the frenzy of the moment that it’s hard to pull him out of it. And sometimes I get sucked in too and feel like I’m going to just fly off the handle myself.
Enter the Zafooz.
He may not be into it when I first grab the cushions, and he may be screaming and crying and flopping around, but at this point I’ve got nothing to lose by trying something other than flipping out myself.
I hug my Mindful Monkey and invite him to sit on his ladybug. I ask him to hold my hands and just breathe. At this point I feel a little silly, with a child screaming at me, possibly throwing things, as I sit there and breathe in and do a loud exhale through my mouth, making the “ocean noise” of the ujjayi breath. It’s the noise that usually gets his attention.
I just keep repeating, “Please breathe with me.” Usually at this point, this is the only thing keeping me from tipping over into crazy angry mom territory. I’m doing this for myself as much as for him.
I know I’ve got him if he takes my hands. He always asks for a kiss first, then he sits on his ladybug and we make Darth Vader noises together. I found it was more relatable and fun for him to think of it as a Darth Vader breathing. So we take a deep breath in, and Darth Vader on the way out, breathing and letting go of whatever it was that we were fighting about. Half the time I have no idea what exactly the issue was besides his frustration with my inability to read his mind.
Does it work every time? No. Sometimes I just sit there breathing, hugging a monkey pillow and repeating myself like a crazy person. Sometimes I get up and run away and try to hide just to separate myself from the insanity. And sometimes he yells at me that he “hates breathing.”
But sometimes, something clicks, and I’m able to get through that frenzied tantrum brain and get him to slow down and breathe with me. And once I do that, I know we can get through this. It’s never forced. It’s always an invitation. And I have to know when to give up and try something else.
Since we’ve started this breathing thing, we’ve incorporated moments of mindfulness into our daily routine. I often grab our cushions and ask him to sit with me and breathe at random points during the day. My goal is for this to be his go-to when he feels out of control. A go-to for both of us really, since it benefits me as much as it does him.
“Zafooz, created by Metta Creations, LLC, is committed to helping young people learn to connect and nurture themselves through daily mindfulness practices that help shape their worldview through the eyes of patience, love, and kindness. All Zafooz designs have sweet, peaceful faces to remind children that is is safe to slow down and go within. By encouraging our youth to sit in a brief daily mindfulness practice, the creator of Zafooz hopes to tap into the social and emotional skills children need to live a well-balanced life.”
Zafooz cushions are available at Zafooz.com and retail for $49.99