The concept of mindfulness can be a bit obscure and hard to describe, especially to children.
Simply put, mindfulness is a practice of living in the moment, being fully present in the moment or being intentional with your attention. For children, it’s about engaging their senses and teaching them to identify and regulate big emotions.
The benefit of mindfulness is undeniable. It empowers children to try new things, encourages positive self-talk, improves general concentration, teaches resilience, and reduces anxiety. Raising a mindful child depends on you as the parent and how you nurture the thought.
Here is how:
Model: Lead by example. Practice mindfulness and become self-aware.
Boredom: Let them find their inner creativity.
Share: When you find yourself in the present moment, include them.
Start small: Keep it simple; make it intentional.
Create a habit: Be consistent.
Be patient: All good things take time.
Activities to try:
Belly breathing: with one hand resting on their stomach, guide them to inhale, observing how the stomach expands like a balloon and slowly exhale, noticing how the stomach deflates.
Flower and Bubble breathing: Guide your child to visualise smelling a flower by breathing in slowly and deeply through the nose and breathe out slowly through the mouth, blowing bubbles.
Bunny Breathing: Take several short, quick “sniffs” in through the nose. Exhale in one long, smooth breath.
Mindful eating: Enjoying a meal can be a complete sensory experience. Practising mindful eating encourages stillness, focus and appreciation.
“54321”: Ask your child to name 5 objects they can see, 4 they can touch, 3 they can hear, 2 they can smell and 1 they can taste.
Nature walk: Adopt the pace of nature. Ask them to listen, observe growth, walk barefoot, collect acorns, touch the bark of a tree trunk, rub a pine needle. Visit nature regularly and witness small and big changes.
Yoga: Linking movement with breath while strengthening the body and nervous system to better cope with everyday stress and problems creatively.
Body scan: Often, our body is on autopilot while our mind is elsewhere. The body scan technique is designed to sync body and mind by performing a mental scan, from the top of the head to the end of their toes. Bring their attention to any discomfort, sensations, tensions or aches that they experience.
Visualisation: Invite your child to picture something, someplace or someone using your words to guide them. Essentially aiming to replace the breath with a mental image as the object of focus.
Reflection: Ask your child reflective questions, perhaps something such as, “What made you laugh today?” Encourage them to be aware of the feelings, not the thought that arises when you focus on the question.
Stillness: Challenge your child to sit still and quiet. Make it a game. Set a timer. Talk about repetitive thoughts, sensations.
The more you infuse your everyday lives with mindfulness, the more effortlessly your children will use these techniques when things get stressful.
With time, your child’s ability to connect with themselves and their environment will happen naturally.
What are you waiting for? Is it not time to teach your child these tools?