"In today's rush, we all think too much, seek too much, want too much, and forget about the joy of just being."
- Eckhart Tolle
We all know that mindfulness is good for us. It is also really good for our children. As more research is coming out about mindfulness it indicates that mindfulness can help children:
- Improve their ability to pay attention
- Calm down when they are upset
- Decrease Anxiety
- Improve decision making skills
- Improve social skills
To summarize mindfulness helps kids increase emotional regulation and cognitive focus. Would your child benefit from this? If so, below are a few simple exercises to introduce the practice of mindfulness to you and your child!
First Things first...
Establish your own practice: You are going to have the most success teaching your children mindfulness once you have established a mindfulness practice of your own. It would be hard to teach your child to swim, if you had never learned to swim yourself. Mindfulness is much the same way. I recommend using the App Headspace to kickstart your own mindfulness routine. Continue following my blog for more information about implementing your own mindfulness routine, but for now Headspace is a great resource!
Check your expectations: The purpose of mindfulness is to give our children the skills to:
- Develop awareness of their inner and outer experiences.
- Recognize their thoughts as "just thoughts"
- Understand how they feel emotions in their body
- Become aware when their attention has wandered
- Provide tools for impulse control
These amazing outcomes don't happen overnight!! The core principle of mindfulness is letting go of expectations, and this certainly applies to teaching children mindfulness. Don't force it. If your child is not interested in an activity, drop it. This is a good time for us parents to practice letting go of being so outcome focused. This is about connecting, being playful and enhancing awareness about their body.
3 Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Children
Now for the fun part. Here are some fun beginner mindfulness activities to teach your children!!
Pinwheel Breathing: Help your child learn to use a concentrated breath with a pinwheel. Instruct your child to release their breath through their mouth, directing it in a concentrated stream towards the pinwheel, keeping it slow and spinning. You can get playful with this exercise and see how fast and slow they can make the pinwheel go with different types of breath.
Bunny Breathing: This is always a kid favorite! Have your child take three quick sniffs through their nose and then one extended exhale out of their nose. Tell them to pretend that they are bunnies, sniffing in the air for bunnies or carrots to eat. This is a breathing activity that is cleansing when used the right way. You can use it also when your child is a little upset or having trouble finding their breath. It helps children connect to breathing out so that they breath instead of spinning out.
The Mindful Jar: Fill a jar with water and add a spoonful of glitter glue. Put the lid back on the jar and shake it to make the glitter swirl. Ue the following script as a guide: “Imagine that the glitter is like your thoughts when you’re stressed, mad or upset. See how they swirl around and make it really hard to see clearly? That’s why it’s so easy to make silly decisions when you’re upset – because you’re not thinking clearly. Don’t worry this is normal and it happens in all of us (yep, grownups too). [Now put the jar down in front of them.] Now watch what happens when you’re still for a couple of moments. Keep watching. See how the glitter starts to settle and the water clears? Your mind works the same way. When you’re calm for a little while, your thoughts start to settle and you start to see things much clearer.”
Have fun and keep it simple!
I would love to hear from you about your experience introducing these mindfulness skills to your children. Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences below in the comment section.