Mindfulness is a hot topic, and it seems everywhere you turn it is being highlighted as the new way to improve something in your life. Although popular, mindfulness is more than a buzzword. It truly has the goods to back up its popularity!
Growing research shows mindfulness can positively impact both physical and mental health. Mindfulness has been found to positively impact personal health and well-being, relationships and leadership.
With so much goodness to offer, it’s no surprise that schools and parents are increasingly interested in teaching mindfulness. New research shows mindfulness can improve focus and attention, coping skills, and decision-making among children.
Although the concept of mindfulness can seem abstract and elusive, mindfulness is really quite simple. Mindfulness means being present in the moment in a nonjudgmental way. It is about tapping into the present moment both with your thoughts and feelings with less judgment and more curiosity or neutrality.
The idea of being still and fully present can be difficult for most adults, much less energetic and active kids.
So how can you teach mindfulness to kids?
Rather than presenting mindfulness as this big thing to attain, talk about the idea of it. Introduce the idea of being present, letting feelings in, and experiencing the moment in casual and kid-friendly terms. For example, when my kids hit meltdown mode we take a yoga breath. When they are starting to throw a tantrum I encourage them to check in and verbalize how they are feeling. In ways big and small you can start to introduce and integrate the fundamentals of living mindfully.
Here are some possible ways to implement the practice of mindfulness at home with kids big and small.
- Have your own mindfulness practice. This can be done anywhere and anytime! Talk to your kids about how you use mindfulness and how it can help. Let them see you doing it so it becomes a part of what they know.
- Incorporate mindfulness at home while doing daily activities. If you are out riding bikes, take a moment to pause and notice the smell of the flowers around you. Feel the warmth of the sun. Watch the birds flying by. Ask your kids what they see, smell, hear and even taste. What can they touch?
- Encourage them to engage their senses doing daily things such as playing, eating or even reading.
- Teach mindfulness skills in a fun way by practicing the SpiderMan, a fun and playful way to teach kids the principles of awareness.
- Make a sound (this can be a noise you make, ringing a bell or playing a short bar of music) and ask your kids to listen carefully until you no longer make a sound.
- Practice taking deep breaths and sitting quietly for a few short moments. When the time is over, talk about ways to bring back awareness and what the experience felt like.
- Read about it! Sitting Still Like A Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and their Parents), A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles, Visiting Feelings, and What Does It Mean to be Present? are all good resources.
- Check out a kid-friendly mindfulness app such as Headspace for Kids or Smiling Mind.
Do you practice mindfulness in your home? Share your favorite strategies in the comments!