Therapist Blog

Mindfulness for Kids

Mindfulness is usually reserved for adults, but it does not have to be. Children of all ages experience stress and tension physically, the inability to focus or concentrate, as well as distressing emotions (i.e anxiety, anger, sadness). The great thing about children is that they can adapt easily to mindfulness as well.

You may be asking, what is mindfulness? How can I get my child to sit still long enough to practice? The best way to conceptualize mindfulness is the ability to be present and to be in the here and the now. It is a way of observing, describing, and fully engaging in the moment. Now, how can we get our children to fully engage in the moment? Here are some techniques:

1. Be mindful of the breath: Observing the breath is the simplest way to start mindfulness. For example, if I tell you to not think of the color red, you are definitely going to think of the color red. So if you help the child think about breathing, it will be easier for them to focus on their breath. If you have younger children, right before bed have them get their favorite stuffed animal. Encourage them to rock their toy to sleep. Have them place the toy on their belly and as they take deep breaths in and out, they will create a wave of relaxation for themselves and their favorite toy! Your child will have a nice sleep and their first lesson in mindfulness.

2. Be mindful at school: Homework can be a trying and frustrating task for many children and parents. Be mindful that your child is learning this information for the first time and focusing long enough on something that may not be fun as playing their video game or watching TV, can make it difficult for them to concentrate. Before engaging the homework assignment, take 4 deep breaths counting to 4 and then begin the work. You can breathe in pairs, such as Inhale… Exhale one. Inhale… Exhale two. The child’s job is to stay concentrated in spite of everything else going on around them.

Mindfulness for Kids

3. Make it a family Affair: Studies show that children are more mindful if their parents are more mindful. I suggest parents practice with your children. Often times, we rush with all the things we have to get done in the day, but slowing down is very beneficial so that you can pay attention. At meal time, be mindful of the food with your child; what it smells like? Feels like? Tastes like? Sounds like? Before rushing out of the house in the morning, take 4 deep breaths as a family and then head out to the car. If you are driving home from school and work, challenge your child to a song duo where you both know the lyrics, and see who can sing it the craziest and the juiciest! The point is to be creative and have you and your child become more mindful each day.

Overall, mindfulness can be what you make it for you and your child. It can be as entertaining, raw, and spontaneous as you can come up with. I encourage you to live your life fully; embracing the moments you can create.

 

 

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