In simple terms, mindfulness is being focused on the present moment and yes, kids can learn how to implement mindfulness into their daily lives. Mindfulness is a learned skill that can be taught. Parents can educate children on what mindfulness is and what it looks like by speaking about it as well as modeling mindfulness for their children. Practicing mindfulness reduces stress, improves emotional awareness, and facilitates the ability to be present and enjoy the moment.
If you would like to help your child achieve mindfulness, take a look at the suggestions below to get started.
Mornings can be special, quality time with your children. Try using this time to explore the morning through your 5 senses by taking turns pointing out things you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. Pay close attention to the things you may not notice on a regular basis like the birds chirping outside or the softness of your blanket. While eating breakfast, slow down and help your children pay attention to the pleasing taste and smell of their food. Enjoy the moments you are in, attempting to set aside the anxious thoughts and stress of the upcoming day.
Mindfulness Around Meals
Mealtime is a great time to connect with your children. Open a conversation by asking your child to share one thing they are feeling physically, one thing they are thinking about, and one thing they are feeling emotionally. If emotion words do not flow easily, help them out with some ideas to choose from.
At times, discuss the meal you are eating… how it smells, the color, the size, the texture, and the taste.
Out and About
Take a “mindfulness walk” with your children. Point out how your body feels as it moves along, encouraging the kids to do the same. Can you feel your heart beating? Do you feel the weight of your body as you step? Then, shift your awareness to your surroundings. Point out what you see, hear, smell, and feel as you walk.
The next time you are in the car, ask your kids to name things they see that start with the letter A and then go through the alphabet. This will create awareness of their surroundings and could even keep them from getting restless and bored.
This can be a fun, meaningful time with your children, so get creative!
*Gather several interesting items that would be fun to hold. Give each child one of the items and ask them to spend some time noticing what if feels like in their hand. After an appropriate amount of time, ask them to describe the item and what it feels like to the best of their ability.
*Tell your children that you are going to set a timer for one minute and during that time they will need to look around the room, noticing anything and everything, paying close attention to the things they have never noticed before. Set the timer. Once the time is up, ask them to describe what they saw. Did they notice anything in the room that they had never observed before?
*Ask your children to lie down on the floor and get comfortable. After they are comfortable and still ask them to breath in through their nose (like they are smelling a flower), and then out through their pursed lips (like they are blowing through a straw.) Have them close their eyes and do this for several minutes.
*Ring a bell, a wind chime, or anything that makes a sound that continues for a moment. Have your children listen to that sound and then raise their hand once they think it has stopped. Have them continue to listen to the sounds they hear around them for one minute. After the minute is up, ask your children to describe what sounds they heard.
Yes… you can teach your children to meditate. Stand with them in a comfortable, relaxed way. Have your child picture their favorite color and then picture in their mind a giant balloon in that color. Have them slowly inhale, as if that air were blowing up their giant balloon. Once the “balloon” is full of air and ready to pop, have them pause for a moment. Then, pretend to pop the “balloon” by gently poking their belly with your finger and have them release the air as they fall to the floor.
Lie on the floor with your children in a comfortable position. Slowly take a deep breath in and slowly let it out. Do this several times. Now instruct them to think the word “IN” as they breath in and the word “OUT” as they breath out.
Say something like this in a very calm, slow voice… Imagine you are in the most beautiful park, lying on the grass. The sun is warm on your skin and your eyes are closed. Now imagine there is a beautiful butterfly that comes to say “hi”. It can be any color. Imagine it is fluttering just above your toes. Can you feel the soft breeze of the butterfly’s wings on your toes? (Then move to knees, belly button, up and down your arms, etc.) Try to imagine what the butterfly looks like. Just before flying off, the butterfly comes to say good-bye. Off it goes, leaving you feeling warm and cozy, laying in the grass. (You can also come up with your own, creative imagery to share with them.)
Mindfulness at Bedtime
Bedtime should be a clam and relaxing time as your children slow down and prepare for sleep. Ask your children to lie down in bed. Have them close their eyes and slowly take in a deep breath, hold for a few seconds and then let it out slowly. Say something like this… imagine you are holding two juicy oranges, one in each hand. Squeeze those oranges as tight as you can. Notice what your fists feel like when you squeeze hard. Now let go of the oranges and relax your hands. Notice how good your hands feel as they relax. Now squeeze your toes together and pretend like you are trying to pick up sand between them. Squeeze! Now release the sand and notice how relaxed your feet feel. Now pretend you have eaten something very sour. Tighten up your entire face, wrinkle your nose, squeeze your eyes shut tight. Now let it go. Notice how relaxed your face feels when you stop. (Again, get creative!)
Mindfulness is like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the better you get at it. The benefits to mindfulness are countless so take the time to teach your children a skill that could help them reduce their anxiety level throughout their entire life.
If you are struggling with anxiety yourself and would be interested in getting help, give me a call at 832-421-8714 to set up an appointment.