There are a lot of buzzy words out there in the realm of mental health. It seems like there are so many different ways to improve one’s mental health, yet we still are left not quite sure how to implement these tactics. Additionally, when it comes to our children, figuring out how to help them live in their optimum state of wellness can be overwhelming for a parent. Often one might wish that there was a simple skill they could teach their children that would serve them for years to come. One that might help them be more grounded and better functioning overall. Luckily, there’s a nifty skill called mindfulness that can accomplish all of these goals and more.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is another one of these “buzzy” words . “Just be mindful”. “Proceed mindfully”. Perhaps you have been acquainted with this word for many years, yet never truly understood its potential impact when used correctly and continuously. Mindfulness is simply defined as choosing to be in a state of awareness of the present moment. We do this while promoting a nonjudgmental and compassionate stance toward the “now”. Mindfulness is more a state of being than an action one can perform. It is a technique and way of existing that has existed far back in our history book. The current text you are reading will soon explain not only its benefits but how to integrate this into your world.
Mindfulness is shown through research to improve emotional resiliency and internal attunement. It also helps calm the mind, settle the body, and aid in connecting with the inner/outer world. Mindfulness practices used overtime often leads to an individual feeling much more grounded, self-aware, and regulated. Now you may be thinking that you don’t know where to begin in teaching this to your children, so we have a few techniques to get you started.
Mindfulness and Children
One way to begin to accustom your children (and yourself for that matter) to mindfulness is by being in touch with your body. Your body is constantly communicating its needs and alerting you when things are not aligned for optimum functioning. Including the body when discussing moments of dysregulation can help bring awareness and language to what your children are experiencing.
Oftentimes, your children experience dysregulation in their body before it catches up with the conscious mind. They might feel butterflies in their tummy when they are in an environment that unsettles them. They might feel a burning sensation in their chest when they are angry at their sibling for taking their toy. Perhaps they get a lump in their throat when they know they have broken a household rule. Bringing awareness of the body can be a great way to encourage mindfulness in a child. They are slowly learning how to notice their internal world which helps them interact with the external world.
A way to accomplish this is simply having conversations about how their body feels in certain situations or after a moment of dysregulation. Another way to accomplish this is practicing simple breathing exercises. Help them bring attention to how they feel as they inhale and exhale. The same goal is met by bringing awareness to the body through other forms of movement such as walking and dancing. Once they learn how their body responds in certain situations, they can better know how to calm it. Furthermore, once they learn how their body responds in different life moments, they have a better awareness of the self thus better control of their reactions.
Suggestions to promote the skill of mindfulness in your home from a Houston child therapist:
- Take a walk with your child/family while talking about the colors, sights, sounds, smells, sensations, etc.
- Have a snack and ask how your child experiences the taste and texture of the snack
- Color a coloring sheet, change the marker/pencil every time your focus is drawn away from the activity
- Put on a meditation before bedtime
- Practice the skill of S.I.F.T.
- Inquire about sensations, images, feelings, and thoughts (“sifting” through the mind)
- Cloud gazing while discussing what the different figures in the cloud look like
- Depending on your child’s age, have them journal about their day
Navigating the mental health world can be an overwhelming feat. At Brittani Persha Counseling we hope to help be your guides. Continue checking in to read more about how to promote the wellness of you and your family.
To learn more about BPC, please give us a call at 713-364-8645. You may also schedule a free 20-minute phone consultation here. We look forward to chatting with you!
If you would like to learn more about Avery Benedict, LPC-A, and the services she offers, you can find her bio here.
Further Information on Mindfulness: