Mindfulness is also good for our children. There are some research, which show mindfulness skills benefit the brains of kids and they improve their behavior. The attention spans of children improve and they enjoy their better mental health and also they get more resilient to stress. Let us take a look at some of the ways on how to teach mindfulness to your child.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves.(1) Mindfulness is a practice actually about living in the present moment. Here the focus is brought to the feelings and thoughts that you are experiencing in the present moment without any judgment or over-thinking.
The word “mindfulness” might be used to describe a psychological trait, or a practice of cultivating mindfulness, a state of awareness, or a psychological process.(2)
Sometimes mindfulness can be a form of meditation, using guided imagery or breathing so as to get in tune with the body and mind. Other times, mindfulness is used to reduce stress and get some relaxation.
The goal of mindfulness with kids is to help them move beyond their thoughts of the past or the future that might be negative or worrisome. Mindfulness gives children the tools they require to connect well with their present world. It empowers them to accept their present thoughts and feelings and also to form healthy habits to cope up with their emotions.
20 Ways to Teach Mindfulness To Your Child?
Mindfulness is good for us and also for our kids. Experts at Concordia University had explained that when kids feel overwhelmed, they can simply take a step back and can start asking themselves certain questions like, ‘Am I confused? Tired? Hungry? Do I need to take a deep breath?”(3)
There is an emerging body of research on mindfulness and it indicates that mindfulness can help children to improve their abilities to pay proper attention, also to calm down and relax when they are upset and even help them to make better decisions.(4) So, shortly it can be said that mindfulness helps with emotional regulation and cognitive focus. So, isn’t it really worth enough to teach our child mindfulness? Here below are some of the ways to teach mindfulness to your child.
Lead By Example:
Before we go for teaching our children what mindfulness is, we need to establish our own practice. We must follow and practice mindfulness at first so that we can lead our children with example. So, at first you practice a lot of mindful habits, including mindful eating, mindful walking, mindful meditation and so on. This way, your child will imitate you and you can teach your child the best of mindful practices.
Don’t Force It:
One more thing that is very important to note is not to force your child. Forcing or punishing your child for not practicing mindfulness is not the right way to teach mindfulness. If your child is not ready or not interested in learning mindfulness then simply drop it. Instead you can start talking about some nice stories that talks about mindfulness and then slowly try to get their interest in the learning. Meanwhile you need to practice mindfulness and do the right things in your parenting skills.
Keep It Simple:
If your child is younger or a little one, you need to keep the mindful lessons quite simple. Using simple words like awareness, or noticing, with your child will help while teaching mindfulness. So, you can try saying, ‘Can you notice your thoughts or how you feel right now?” “Be aware of the present situation, be aware of your body, the place we are at, and the surrounding.”
Create A Mindful Bedtime Ritual:
You can create a mindful bedtime ritual. In fact bedtime is the greatest time to introduce mindfulness to your child. You can simply lie down beside your child and tell to become aware of the body, feet, legs, and so on. This way you can calm your child down and help the child to have some nice relaxation on the bed.
Smell The Roses:
We all know that scent is an excellent way to help kids become more aware of everything. So, one of the easiest ways to engage your child sense of smell is to give something aromatic, such as a rose flower or even an orange peel.
Tell your child to close the eyes and concentrate on the smell. Let the child spend some time by simply paying attention to the aroma. Then you can ask your child some simple questions such as, “What do you think the smell could be of?”
Help Them To Notice And Name Body Sensation, Thoughts, And Emotion:
You need help your child notice and name the body sensation, thoughts, and emotions. Just say them; “Your chest feels warm and you feel so happy when you are playing outside. Can you feel the emotion, sensation in your body?” Let your child have more insight to their inner experience and know about more appropriate responses.”
Listen To The Bell:
Listening to a bell is a mindfulness practice that you can try with your child. All you need is a bell that makes a sound. Let your child listen to the sound and pay proper attention to the sound until the child can no longer listen to the sound, which is generally 30 seconds to 60 seconds. This exercise has a great calming effect on children and it is also an interesting way to teach them to pay attention to their present surroundings.
This is an important mindful exercise that you can teach your child. You can start teaching your child mindfulness by making them eat a piece of chocolate or a raisin mindfully. This is a great activity that your child will love. By teaching mindfulness eating you teach you will be teaching the child to pay attention to the foods and appreciate it for being present.
You need to teach your child about mindful walking. Simply tell your child to notice everything in the neighborhood and notice all the things that we haven’t seen before. You can also tell your child to remain silent at least for one minute and try to pay attention in the sounds that are audible. That’s what mindfulness is!
Establish A Gratitude Practice:
You need to establish a gratitude practice with your child. It is believed that practicing gratitude is a fundamental component of mindfulness and it teaches our children to appreciate the abundance present in their life, as opposed to simply focusing on all goodies and toys. Teach your child to be grateful about everything that has been gifted to them.
Meditate With Children:
You need to meditate along with your children. Let them know that you ate meditating and by seeing you doing meditation they will also begin to meditate the way you do and slowly get deeper in this meditation practice. This will help them really to feel good and control their thoughts and emotion.
One of the simplest ways to quiet the mind of your child is to teach him to pay attention to his breathing. You need to encourage your child to close the eyes and count the number of breaths. Let your child tell “one” while inhaling and tell “two” while exhaling. This would make your child more aware of the breaths and how the body and lungs feel while the child is mindful.
Journal About Specific Activities:
Make your children write about their daily activities. You can tell them to recall their entire day’s work or activities and then write them in the night. Make this a habit with your child. Though at first your child might simply write about the activities; slowly they would also start mentioning about the feelings that they had while doing the activities.
This mindfulness exercise helps you children start paying more attention to their feeling, emotion and thoughts.
Draw An Everyday Object:
You need to give your child any ordinary object, such as a rock or a leaf and encourage the child to hold it in hands and spend time watching at it. Then let your child draw the object. Here the point is to help your child pat attention and focus on a single thing at a time. This is a nice mindfulness practice.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation:
Progressive muscle relaxation is something about learning to pay attention to various muscles in different body part. The aim here is to learn to relax muscles that might have become quite tense without the child even noticing.
To start with this mindful practice, you need to tell your child to lie down and then let them tighten and relax specific muscle groups one at a time, beginning from their feet to calves. Keep going until you get up to your child’s head.
Yoga is an excellent way to increase your child’s awareness of the connection between the mind and the body. You can try kid friendly yoga poses and can help the child become more mindful.
Just like other mindfulness practices, yoga will also teach your child a lot of life skills. You can sign up your child for a yoga class or can look for kids- friendly yoga videos to practice at home.
Ask your child to sit comfortably and then let the child close their eyes. Draw their attention to the breathing while telling them to feel the sensation of breath that is coming into and out of their body.
You might ask your child or children to repeat the word “in” and “out” as they inhale and exhale. Do this for at least 5 breath cycles and at the end of their 5 breath cycles guide your child’s attention to any feeling or thought that might be present. Ask them to let those feelings and thought go away as they return their focus on their breath and allow them to repeat the breathing cycle again.
Share A 3-Breath Hug:
This is such a pleasant mindfulness exercise to help your child mindfulness. Hugging your child, take 3 synchronized deep breaths together. Simply relax any muscles that feel tight and let go and feel the tension melt away. Use this calming hug with your child in the morning and even at night.
Mindfulness Sound Game:
Have your child or children start by focusing on their breathing. After about 5 breath cycles, tell them that they will be listening to a sound and that they must focus on the sound till the sound turns softer and softer.
Make them know that they have to raise their hand when they no longer hear the particular sound. Then, play a sound and thus could be a sound of the bell or a singing bowl, or you can simply strike a note on your piano.
Then let them return back to 5 breathing cycles. You can repeat the same exercise twice if you feel like and if your child or children are receptive to a repeat.
You can teach mindfulness to your child by some mindful play. Give your child some paints, water and sand pit and any other such kind of fun activity that your kids would love to play and meanwhile you can help them by guiding them to remain completely present in the moment whenever they have any distractions. You can try and focus on their senses, what they hear, feel, smell and see.
For example if they are playing with water let them notice how the water slips down from their hands or runs down their arm. Let them be with these sorts of sensory activities.
We talked about some of the interesting and effective ways to teach mindfulness to your child. Hope you could try these practices with your children and try if they work out with them and if they get any benefits from these mindfulness practices.
Let us give our children a chance to be aware of their present moment, let us help them to stay focused and help them improve their mental health.