As we become increasingly busy in our home and work lives, mindfulness is a concept which has become very popular in recent years.
With bills to pay, kids to look after, jobs to get to and chores to get done, we assume that mindfulness is something reserved for adults. It may not seem like kids have much to worry about but practicing mindfulness activities with your children can actually be a very powerful tool.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the act of being fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing. It also teaches us to stop being overly reactive or feel overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. The NHS website has some really helpful information on mindfulness: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/
Like meditation, you can take time out of your day to go somewhere quiet on your own to practice mindfulness. It can also be used in everyday life and situations where you feel yourself becoming overly anxious and you use it to snap yourself back to reality or to calm yourself down.
Mindfulness for children
Even life as a child can be stressful at times. Whether it’s moving school, welcoming the arrival of a new sibling or parents separating, the younger we are when we learn about mindfulness, the better.
The purpose of mindfulness for children is to teach them the skills they need in order to develop their awareness of their experiences, understand how emotions manifest, recognise when their attention has wondered and show them the tools they need for control.
There’s an increasing amount of research which suggests that mindfulness can help children improve their abilities to pay attention, calm down when they’re upset and make better decision. You can visit the Mindful Schools website for further research details; https://www.mindfulschools.org/about-mindfulness/research/
It keeps them present
A huge part of mindfulness is learning to focus on the present moment and ignore distractions. It also promotes patience and improves attentiveness and impulse control.
Furthermore, it can improve executive functions in the brain such as cognitive control, working memory and cognitive flexibility. These are all skills which will become highly valuable to children as they reach school age and need to start paying attention in class and completing homework assignments.
It helps to deal with stress
One of the main reasons adults practice mindfulness is because it helps us to stay calm when we’re facing stressful times. By promoting this to your child from a young age, you’re creating good habits for the future.
Meditation for kids
Mindfulness is a meditative technique so you’re probably wondering how on earth you can get your child to sit down and practice it when all they want to do is run around and play.
Below we share some of our top tips for teaching mindfulness for kids.
• Establish your own practice first. It’s going to be hard to convince your child to do something if you’re not doing it yourself. Share with your children what you’re doing, it’s natural for youngsters to want to do adult things, so by seeing you do it, they’re probably going to want to copy
• Mindfulness is a big word for young kids to understand but it’s simply the act of being aware. Simply encourage your child to be aware of their thoughts, feelings, sensations and anything else that’s happening around them right now
• If they’re not interested, don’t force it. Try again in a few weeks or months but there’s no point making them because you’re unlikely to ever get them on board if you do
If you want to know anything more about how mindfulness can help your child, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll be more than happy to help.