Mindfulness is a great technique to use with children to support their wellbeing. There is an emerging body of research that indicates mindfulness can help children improve their abilities to pay attention, to calm down when they are upset and to make better decisions. In short, it helps with emotional regulation and cognitive focus.
The power of mindfulness with children
- Strengthens self-control.
- Lower's anxiety and stress.
- Increases positive moods.
- Better decision making.
- Improves Emotional Regulation Skills.
- Increases self-esteem.
- Improves Health and Body Image.
- Improves social skills and communication.
Mindfulness means paying full attention to something. It means slowing down to really notice what you're doing. Being mindful is the opposite of rushing or multitasking. When you're mindful, you're taking your time.
By teaching children meditation and mindfulness skills we help them increase their well-being and enable them to meet the stresses of the world with presence, self-compassion, and openness. In order to help children of all ages find their way into practicing mindfulness, it can be helpful to give them an easy definition they can relate to.
Mindfulness meditation, at its simplest, is paying attention to what is happening in the present moment. It may be what you’re feeling, hearing, or anything else you notice. There’s no special place of calm you have to reach and it’s not about clearing your mind, it’s just an honest and kind look at what you’re experiencing in this moment.
- Begin,by finding a comfortable sitting position. You can even place a hand on the heart. Allow your eyes to close or lower your gaze toward the floor.
- Bring to mind someone who you really respect and look up to, and who really loves you in return.
- Notice how you feel as you bring this person to mind.
- Make a kind wish and send it their way. What would make them happy?
- Next, bring to mind someone else you love and care about: A family member or a friend. Just bring this person to mind, sending this person a kind wish.
Move from here to a more neutral person. Perhaps someone you don’t know very well: A parent you see occasionally in the pick-up line, a person who delivers your mail, or someone from another class. Just bring this person to mind and imagine yourself sending them some kind of kind wish.
- Lastly, bring to mind someone who has frustrated you lately, someone who is a little difficult. Send this last person a kind wish—something nice for them in their life.
- Check in with your mind and body as you conclude this practice. Allow your eyes to open if they’ve been closed. Notice if there’s any shift
An Appreciation Practice Game for Children
Leading the game:
- Ask your child: “Do you ever feel disappointed by something or someone?”
- Ask: “How did that make you feel?”
Acknowledge their feelings and, if appropriate, talk about them.
- Say something like: “I bet even when you’re feeling disappointed there are good things happening in your life, too. Let’s name three good things together.”
Tips for naming three good things:
- Remind your child that the point of this game isn’t to pretend they’re not upset when they feel upset. It’s to remember that they can feel two things at once: they can feel grateful for good things while feeling sad, hurt, or disappointed by challenges.
- If children or teens have trouble thinking of three good things on their own, brainstorm and help them discover some.
- When kids understand that this game is not about sweeping their feelings under the rug, the phrase “three good things” can become a playful and humorous response to the minor gripes that show up in family life.
- Parents can encourage kids to remind them to name Three Good Things when they’re stuck on a trivial disappointment or minor annoyance, too.
- To develop a habit of thankfulness, play Three Good Things around the dinner table, before bedtime, and at other times when the family is together.