Mindfulness has become an every day word that rolls off the tongue of parents, educators, therapists and even children.
Whilst there are endless benefits, from enhancing children’s concentration and self-regulation to create a calm, happy and healthy children, the logistics and realism of implementing mindfulness practices in a day-to-day setting, are not as easy as some suggest (but that’s why I am here to offer some guidance).
Mindfulness is a technique in which we are re-training children’s brains to become more aware of their surrounding environment, emotions and physical sensations, eventually leading them to a more balanced, focused state in which they can calmly and compassionately accept each given moment, regardless of the situation in which they are faced with, which as adults, we know, is no easy task!
In order for children - and adults - to reach this state, we need to consistently support them in improving their concentration, patience and perseverance.
If you’re wondering how to realistically support your child with the use of mindfulness, when they struggle to even sit still for 30 seconds, then you may find the following techniques very useful.
They’re simple, fun, engaging and easily implemented in any environment.
1. Walking Meditation
– This one can be done anywhere! Whether its in the park, your walk to school or even just walking from the bathroom to the bedroom.
Encourage the children to close their eyes and focus on what they can smell or hear; make it more challenging for older children by encouraging them to focus on their breath or heartbeat. Walk heel-to-toe to encourage slow, mindful movements
2. Mindful Eating
– This is a great one when you need a few quiet moments to recompose or re-connect to yourself whilst making it meaningful for all.
Encourage your children to silently focus on what they can taste whilst they’re eating. Give them a little direction to start with, using statements such as ‘I wonder what you can taste’, ‘Notice what it feels like on your tongue and in your belly’.
Encourage them to eat slowly, fully aware of the sensations within their whole body as they eat.
You can also focus on what they see whilst eating their meals. (such as the colours, patterns and shapes within their food) or what they can smell. When doing this in silence, give them a time limit on how long you will remain quiet, especially for younger children, and then share and listen to their experiences afterwards.
3. Tense & Let-Go
This one is great before bedtime, to get them to relax and slow down plus, its perfect for any age group!
Guide them through a body scan starting with their feet, all the way up to their heads, tightening and tensing each body part then relaxing and letting go.
For instance, make your hands into tight fists and then relax and open up your hands; wrap your arms around yourself and squeeze tightly, then relax and open up your arms. Notice the differences you feel when your body is tense in comparison to when it is relaxed.
You can use a simple statement after relaxing each body part “I relax my hands, my hands are relaxed”, “I relax my shoulders, my shoulders are relaxed”
I'd love to hear which of these Mindfulness techniques you use this week, leave a comment below to let me know.
If you and your children love these 3-techniques, try out My 21-Day Mindful Journey, a playful programme of 21-mindfulness fun-sheets, easy-to-implement meditations and self-expression sheets to start forming a healthy habit of daily mindfulness and turn confusion into clarity; nervousness into calmness; self-doubt into self-love