One of the best ways we can help our children develop is by teaching them mindfulness. It is particularly important now more than ever as we all continue to go through such an unpredictable time. Just like us, our children are probably feeling a little overwhelmed and frustrated from the constant changes and continuous open/shut health directives. When we practice mindfulness with our children it puts everything in perspective and settles their fears.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a meditation practice where we focus our attention on what we sense and feel without judgement or interpretation. It is designed to relax your body and relieve stress. For children practicing mindfulness, it can increase their happiness and assist them in partaking in risk-taking activities such as playing with a new group of people.
When we practice mindfulness, we begin to control our moods and impulsive actions and we develop coping skills that are unique to us to regulate our emotions and make better decisions. All of these practices assist in helping our children become confident, carefree lifelong learners.
Benefits of practicing mindfulness
- It reduces our stress
- We better regulate our emotions
- There is greater compassion and empathy for the people and world around you
- We are more focused and it’s easier to pay attention
- We are better decision-makers
- We are confident and resilient people
- Our children are happier
When to practice mindfulness
If you are considering integrating mindfulness into your everyday life, it’s important to choose a time of the day where you have the most time. It could be at the start of the day, at lunchtime or you could add it to your wind-down routine. When you practice mindfulness there are two things to remember, children sometimes resist change and, you should never make mindfulness a punishment. If mindfulness is a punishment it will lose its integrity of enabling consciousness without interpretation and judgement.
So, keep mindfulness fun and simple – particularly with young children. If it’s fun there will be no hesitation to join in and the benefits of practicing mindfulness will be welcomed and enjoyed.
Ways to practice mindfulness with children
There are many ways you could incorporate mindfulness into your everyday routine, here are just a few we would recommend.
1. Using Spotify
Spotify is a fantastic way to start practicing mindfulness as it is full of resources that make mindfulness fun and are age-appropriate. We recommend the podcasts:
- Mindful Moments for Kids by Kira Willey
- Peace Out Podcast
- Like You: Mindfulness for kids podcast
2. The 3 breath hug
One way to practice mindfulness without them realising is the 3 breath hug. It’s a great morning activity or something you can do when you need to say goodbye to each other. Hugging your child, encourage them to take three deep breaths with you. As you take those breaths, drop your shoulders and clear your mind, letting the tension sink away.
3. Taking a self-guided safari walk
On your walks in your neighbourhood, tell your child they are going on a safari and it is their job to find as many bugs, flowers, birds as possible. This exercise allows them to focus and centre their five senses to notice the environment they are walking through and what they may discover.
4. Belly breathing
Breathing has a lot to do with mindfulness and controlling our emotions, so often when children get overwhelmed they take quick short breaths which riles them more. In a non-threatening environment, practice breathing with them. Lie down on the floor and place your hands on your chest and belly. Then slowly breathe in with them and imagine you are blowing up a balloon in your belly. Slowly exhale like you are letting the balloon deflate and blow out all of your worries.
5. ‘I am grateful’ exercise
Studies on gratitude have shown that people have a more positive outlook and children have more compassion and empathy. At the end of each day, sit down with your child and each say three things you are grateful for. Each day make sure they are different so that your child learns they can be grateful for many aspects of their life. Some great gratitude statements to start with include:
- I am grateful for parks so we can move our bodies
- I am grateful for Bluey
- I am grateful that we live so close to the beach
- I am grateful we can still call grandma via Zoom
6. Blowing bubbles
Yes, one of our favourite childhood memories is a fantastic way to practice mindfulness. Blowing bubbles teaches patience and teaches children that sometimes it doesn’t always work and it’s ok. It’s fun they become in tune with their emotions and you can even make your own bubble blowing solutions.
Sitting down and having dedicated time to colour is one of the best ways to destress and practice mindfulness with your children. Colouring can be a quiet activity where you unplug from the world and focus on how you’re feeling. It relaxes the body and allows you and your child to centre your focus.
Mindfulness at Child’s Play ELC
Since returning to normal we have begun practising mindfulness in our classrooms as a way to bring a sense of calm back into our centres. We’ve had great success and our children have really enjoyed practising mindfulness and harnessing their emotions. Some activities we try to do on a daily basis include:
- Mindful colouring
- Dedicated reflection time with relaxing music
- Breathing exercises
If you would like to know more about how you can practice mindfulness at home get in touch.