Children are sponges; from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep, they are constantly absorbing information around them from endless sources that will, eventually, play a role in shaping their future selves. Throughout their school years, they also face a significant amount of emotional, social, and academic stress, trying to meet the expectations of their families, their teachers, and their peers, without the ability to express their emotions and fears in a constructive way.
Every day in school, they are taught how to accomplish things – a “doing” mode – and could benefit greatly from learning how to simply be – or a “being” mode. That’s where mindfulness comes in. It teaches children how to observe and face life’s challenges in a way that many are not taught, therefore giving them an advantage over the rest of the pack, as well as how to manage their emotions in a difficult situation.
Decades of research shows that mindfulness is one of the most effective methods for enhancing children’s wellbeing. It has also been proven to help improve concentration, reduce anxiety, enhance attention spans, and aid with self-acceptance, which is crucial in a child’s formative years. What’s more, children also experience greater joy, empathy, gratitude, kindness, and resilience as a result.
Incorporating mindfulness into your child’s daily routine is actually surprisingly simple. Here are a few different methods you could try.
Start by establishing a gratitude practice, as this emotion is a fundamental component of mindfulness. Every night, before your children go to sleep, teach them to count their blessings. They can either do this in bed or it’s something you can share as a family over the dinner table. This practice will also teach them to pay attention to the small things that happen in their daily life.
Practice mindful eating with your children. Encourage them to focus on their meal instead of watching TV or playing at the same time. Talk to them about the importance of chewing and of tasting, bringing awareness to all senses. Even smelling food before eating it to try and pick up on some of the flavors can be a fun game.
Teach them a breathing meditation for only a few minutes per day, like the one below.
Bahar Wilson is a mindfulness coach and the founder of Mindfulness UAE.