If you want to be happy, BE -Henry David Thoreau
One of the best gifts we can give as parents to our children is to teach them how to be mindful. Mindfulness cannot be acquired so easily, it has to be honed and children even as young as three years of age can be taught to be mindful of their body and of their activities. Why is mindfulness important? Mindfulness is defined as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experiences moment by moment (Kabat-Zinn, 2003, p. 145).
Being mindful allows children to be aware of their inner state, understand their thoughts, sensations and feelings, help them learn to be focused and improve their memory. Such benefits are important when thinking about how children can apply mindfulness when relating to themselves. Aren’t we as adults tend to be our worst critiques? Teaching children to be mindful at an early stage also help them learn to be accepting of themselves- their bodies, their capabilities. Don’t we tend to explode when faced with too much stress? Practicing mindfulness helps children understand how their bodies are reacting to the present- are their muscles tensed? do they feel overwhelmed? are there things in the environment that is making them feel upset?
Here is one strategy to use in helping children to be mindful: Belly breathing.
Try the activity on times that your child needs calming down. Try it when they wake up or before they go to sleep. Try it when you want them to focus. In short, just try it 🙂
If you are into reading more about mindfulness, please grab The Mindful Child by Susan Kaiser Greenland. It is sure to open your eyes to the benefits of Mindfulness not just for children but also for parents.