What’s all the fuss about mindfulness?
I’ve heard people say that mindfulness exercises don’t work with young children. But studies prove differently. According to Sarah Rudell Beach, in her Huffington Post article on the topic, “There is an emerging body of research that indicates mindfulness can help children improve their abilities to pay attention, to calm down when they are upset and to make better decisions. In short, it helps with emotional regulation and cognitive focus.
Who doesn’t want that for their kid? What teacher wouldn’t think this is helpful for classroom performance? What parent wouldn’t appreciate their ADHD child being better able to self-regulate?
Teaching mindfulness to kids is easy and fun. Of course, as with anything, children learn from your example rather than expecting them to perform by harping on them.
The principles from my book, Peaceful Parenting: 10 Essential Principles, bear mentioning here because the principles help you be the parent that you want your kids to emulate:
- Connect with your Creator
- Know your true identity
- Nurture awareness
- Practice gratitude
- Limit judgments
- Communicate clearly
- Forgive quickly
These are principles of a mindful life.
They are easily acquired through meditation, walks in nature, paying attention to the present moment, letting go of the need to be right, not engaging in drama, and by not comparing one thing to the other, just learning to appreciate each person and thing for its own value.
Fun ways to teach these principles to your children are:
- Having a treasure hunt in the woods.
- Stopping and stating three things that you hear or smell or see.
- Watching the clouds and picking out shapes.
- Going fishing. My grandson, who is usually very active can be still for hours catching tadpoles, fishing, skipping rocks in the pond.
- Reading poetry that encourages a thoughtful approach to nature.
- Listening to different kinds of music and talking about how each makes you feel differently.
- Smelling different types of oils and discussing which ones you like or don’t like and why.
- Practicing sitting still. Sometimes I will set the timer for 5 minutes and say just listen to what God has to say to you. Then discuss it afterward. You will be surprised at what they hear.
- Let them pick a rock from outside and close their eyes and turn it over and over in their hands, feeling its texture and ask what the rock wants to communicate with them.
- Teach them to just take a deep breath a few times when they are feeling over-stimulated to calm themselves down.
- Teach them to name their emotions. Don’t label them as good or bad but ask if there is a different emotion that would feel better and discuss how to get there.
- Teach them that they always have a choice and always have a voice.
- Model respect for each member of the family by listening and responding thoughtfully rather that just reacting.
You might be surprised that kids find these things fun and easy to do. They particularly enjoy doing these activities and engaging with you. And in the process, you will find yourself calming down and feeling more peaceful as well.