Teaching mindfulness to children has been proven to have a wide variety of benefits. It is also much easier and simpler than you would expect.
Our children are growing up in a very different world than the one we grew up in.
This is for many different reasons, but the most obvious would be the technological aspect of it. Children are being raised today surrounded by advanced technology that kids from only one or two generations ago wouldn’t have even dreamed about. There is so much technology being used, that it has become another entity that is raising them alongside parents.
This isn’t necessarily bad, because there are plenty of educational apps, interactive videos, and games that help teach them how to read, write, count, and even process emotions in a healthy way.
However, we know from first-hand experience what screen addiction is. We all have it.
We know personally that screens take us out of the present moment. The rest of the world drops away and we enter into the virtual one, sometimes for hours at a time. At least we are aware of our “problem” and most of us are actively practicing mindfulness to bring us back into reality, so we can still appreciate our bodies and the life going on all around them.
Children should be taught how to practice mindfulness as well.
There isn’t much that we can do about kids growing up in a technological world. Rather than resist or fight it, we must embrace it and be safe with it.
However, there is something we can do to make sure that they are still part of life outside of technology, that they have a connection with nature, and that they must take good care of their biological bodies.
Teaching children mindfulness is extremely important, and here are 6 simple ways of doing so:
- Children follow our example. Practicing mindfulness, yourself, and describing what you are seeing, feeling, smelling, and hearing, can help bring them into the moment. Then, you can ask what they are seeing, feeling, smelling, and hearing as well. If you would like to learn techniques for your own mindfulness practice, take a look here.
- Make time during the day to mindfully move your bodies. A great way of doing is by stretching together, and feeling the different body sensations while doing so. You can describe what muscles are being stretched by different movements, and instruct them on how to perform them and feel it themselves.
- When out and about in public together, take a moment or two to stop and notice your surroundings. Point out the trees, the birds, or the kids playing outside on the street. Even speaking about the weather or telling them to feel thankful for the warmth of the sun on their skin is an act of mindfulness. You can also ask them what they notice and have them describe what is going on around them.
- Practice taking deep, mindful breaths together. You can do this by placing your hands on your belly and chest, and feel the air fill up your lungs and your stomach. Then, release it slowly feeling the air leave your lungs and emptying your stomach. Also, a way to practice mindful breathing together, is by hugging each other with your chests against one another. Take three to five deep breaths, and feel each others’ chests slowly rising and falling.
- Show them how to feel their heart rate. First, when they are relaxed have them place their hand on their heart to feel the soft thumping of their heart. After they notice the sensation, have them run around the room as fast as they can, or jump up and down for one minute straight to get their heart rates elevated. Then, tell them to stop and place their hand on their heart again. Ask them what they feel and if their heart is beating faster than it was before. This will help them connect them to their body.
- One way to possibly help your child fall asleep faster while teaching them to be mindful of their breath, is by simply placing a stuffed animal on their stomach. Have them pick out their favorite plush toy and then lie down in bed on their back. Place the stuffed animal on their stomach and have them watch it while is slowly rises and falls with their breath. It will have them focus on the present moment and wind down just in time for bed.
These are some very basic and simple ways of practicing mindfulness with children. You can always come up with fun games or other ways of practicing on your own that would best suit your unique child.
Teaching mindfulness to children is known to have many other benefits, such as alleviating the effects of bullying, reducing attention problems, and improving social skills.
We are raising the future of our planet, by the way.
By practicing mindfulness with our children daily, we are raising a generation of mindful adults. These are beneficial and positive practices that they can carry with them from their childhood to their teenage years, and into their adult lives.