Mindfulness for Kids
Kids today deal with stress, anxiety, and intense emotions while having it all on display on social media. Mindfulness is an excellent resource that children and teens can employ to deal with growing up in a modern world.
Simply put, mindfulness encourages kids to be in the present in an accepting and nonjudgmental manner. Doing this enhances happiness and lessens anxiety. It's a skill they can use throughout their lives.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a mental practice that aids self-regulation, patience, and acceptance. It is about living in the moment and being fully engaged with the present. This can be practiced many ways, from putting down a phone to quiet meditation.
Mindfulness should be practiced daily, as it's a skill you grow. Children can practice it specifically when they are agitated, but they should also practice it when they are calm. It isn't just meant to calm children down; it's meant to maintain a feeling of peace throughout the day and to accept the feelings they encounter.
How do kids practice mindfulness?
If a child is agitated, they can stop what they are doing and take a deep breath. They should concentrate on their breath and come back to the present moment. They should acknowledge how they are feeling, upset, angry, scared, etc., without judging it. This is simply an identification and naming process. It helps the child check-in with themselves and the present moment.
As the child grows and practices mindfulness, they can begin to learn acceptance of their feelings and situations. They will learn to let things go.
Moving mindfulness can also help ease anxiety. For example, gentle yoga or a walking meditation can bring a child's mind to the present moment without requiring them to sit still. Children should pay attention to their movements and try to describe how to feels when their foot connects with the ground. Using all five of their senses, they should engage with the present. Concentrating on their breathing is also mindful. It gives the activity a rhythm.
There are many books, games, flashcards, websites, and articles about how to teach children mindfulness.
How parents can encourage mindfulness
The best way a parent can encourage their child to be mindful is by practicing mindfulness themselves. Children listen to what parents do more than what parents say. Participation also makes mindfulness a family effort.
Mindfulness encourages a strong sense of self, an acceptance of emotions, and an understanding that feelings will pass. As a parent, speak to your child about what mindfulness means to you and how it has helped you in your life. Providing concrete examples of how mindfulness helped and what you did to gain mindfulness helps your child put meaning to the practice.
There is no right or wrong way to encourage mindfulness. It can be achieved through traditional meditation or even through hiking in nature with a conscious mindset. It's a way of thinking and digesting emotions that leads to a healthy, happy life.