At what age can, or should, one begin to teach children mindfulness and meditation?
Mindfulness for children
Mindfulness exercises with and for children
Children often play with dedication and lost in thought. Dedication has a lot to do with mindfulness. When children come to school and are confronted with comparing, evaluating, seeing and experiencing many new impressions and technologies, their perception of themselves and the world changes. They are often distracted and can be influenced by everything – in their opinion, their world view, their emotional life. – In puberty, everything is emotionally mixed up again.
In these phases, it can be helpful for children to know a place in themselves that is safe, in which they are perfectly okay, where they are invulnerable and good, no matter what the others say. It can be helpful if you know how beneficial it can be to close your eyes for a moment with strong emotions, to breathe deeply and to acknowledge the feelings instead of displacing them or, for example, turning hurt into anger. It is very valuable for a child to know and recall the inner silence and the awake presence, if it is supportive for them.
For children and adolescents, the practiced attentive attitude can be a wonderful tool to stay healthy and to be a satisfied member of society. Through the mindfulness exercises they learn support in learning, dealing with stress, with strong feelings, with fears or addictions.
The careful and exemplary treatment of parents and the common practice with children can help to keep their openness, their curiosity and their loving nature. This unprejudiced attitude towards life that we admire so much about the little child, and that we begin to miss as they grow.
On my Facebook pages, I collect and link up-to-date information about mindfulness with children and about meditation, initiatives and movements worldwide .
Working Group “Mindfulness and Compassion in School and Kindergarten”
The Berlin working group “Mindfulness and Compassion in School and Kindergarten” meets regularly every 6 weeks for discussion, exchange, doing exercises, Connecten and much more.
We are happy about anyone who would like to participate – eg teachers, educators, parents, MBSR or mindfulness teachers …
Mindfulness in Berlin School – for students and teachers!
August 2014. A primary school receives a systematic mindfulness training for half a year from Mr and Cecile from the Happy Panda Project . Financed via the Berlin bonus program. A thousand thanks to Hanna, who gave me her trust and initiated it. It’s great how quickly such a project can be realized when informed, enthusiastic teachers have an open and sensitive headmistress!
We teach three third-party classes, 40 minutes per week for 15 sessions per week. The teachers will receive an introductory workshop and three in-depth workshops for their own practice, as well as guidance and inspiration for the practice with the children. Three teachers attend an MBSR course with me, deepening their understanding of mindfulness practice.It was great! Thanks to all who made that possible.January 2018
In the meantime, we have visited several other Berlin schools and trained children and teachers. These include the Havelmüller Elementary School in Tegel, the Carl Bolle Elementary School in Moabit, the Gutenberg School in Hohenschönhausen and the Georg Büchner Gymnasium in Lichtenrade.
We are very happy and grateful that there are always interested, alert and open minded people who appreciate the sense of deceleration, insight, calm and conscious perception!
Does my child need to meditate?
Does my child have to meditate? – A relaxed and playful approach helps more than boundaries and coercion-
Should children meditate? Is this the way to be mindful of yourself and the world? No matter what age, some children can and want to just sit still and not others. The ability of a child to meditate varies and is related to his ability to control and maintain his or her attention.
But there are ways to help our children build that wealth – and we do not need to force it or push it …
Transform, not control
Mindful awareness does not depend on attaining a peaceful state of mind. Many times I have been sitting on a cushion for an extended period of time and have achieved nothing that would even be close to a calm, concentrated state of mind. This is not a failure, but an integral part of the process of mindfulness development. It happens to everyone. In mindful introspection, it is important to be aware of what is happening in one’s mind and body (thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations, for example). Not to control your mind, but to transform it.
It is a process-oriented practice. This is diametrically opposed to the school day when children are often forced to focus every bit of their energy on a static, rigid target that is often measured by standardized test scores. Mindfulness involves a different approach to learning than the one behind the approach taught in most schools, and I’ve seen how it encourages children’s learning.
I recommend you the really good book from the author, with many great ideas :
Guard Children – How we help our children deal with stress and experience happiness, joy and compassi
To the latter here the review of my colleague Vera Kaltwasser, author of “Mindfulness in school”
Excellent and touching! – Thich Nhat Hanh’s books have been with me for years. I am just reading his new book “Fear”, which is highly recommended, and now I really want to draw attention to this wonderful book. It’s worth it all around. Attitude of mindfulness is a comprehensive way of being in the world, of understanding oneself and others, of recognizing one’s own acquired patterns, of perceiving how we often make hell ourselves hot. In this book, the author knows how to masterfully explain and demonstrate how to support and encourage children in their attitude of wonderment, how to learn to refine their self-awareness, and to note their egoistic aspirations. This sharpened insight alters one’s own attitude and appreciation for the other. I also like the importance of playing stories. In my own work with children and adolescents, I find out how precious and helpful the attitude of mindfulness is – especially in today’s world of overstimulation and virtualization. The power of silence and self-reflection can be a counterbalance here. “
»Relationship takes place between people in a certain moment, in a unique situation unique and personal. The same situation, the same mood with exactly the same prehistory has never existed and will never happen again. Relationship always takes place in the moment and is all the more authentic, the more present the people involved are in the perception of their own feelings and impulses and the more open they are to the expression of their counterparts. Thoughts of an educational purpose dampen the simultaneous presence for the perception, make the counterpart less noticeable.
The child will respond to what suits him: if it is an impersonal education, it will not respond to the adult but to the educational intent. If this disregards the integrity of the child, the child either rebels or submits and violates its own integrity. If the child receives a personal and authentic statement, there is a greater likelihood that the child will also respond personally and authentically. Authentic relationships are always educative. That’s why education is basically superfluous. ”
“It’s always a privilege to share with children about meditation and other practices that explore their own healing capacities, because even in the most seemingly unwilling of children, there is gratitude for the space created for them to be curious about their own innermost experience, kids, kids, kids, kids, kids, kids, kids, kids, kids, kids, kids, kids, kids, kids, kids, kids, kids, kids, kids, kids.
The organization AME supports mindfulness training for children and provides resources …
Association for Mindfulness in Education AME is a collaborative association of organizations and individuals working together to provide support for mindfulness training as a component of K-12 education. We are committed to furthering and researching in this field.
Mindfulness is paying attention now and now with kindness and curiosity. Mindfulness reconnects students to their five senses, bringing them into a moment to moment awareness of themselves and their surroundings. Research shows that mindfulness increases attention skills, reduces test anxiety, and improves emotional regulation.
“Good teachers share one trait: they are truly present in the classroom, deeply engaged with their students and their subjects their students can learn to weave a world for themselves. “The connections made by good teachers are not in their methods but in their hearts.” Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach
- Coming soon about the work of mindful schools
- Experience report of pupils and teachers with the program of mindful schools
- Mindful school teacher in action, examples from the classroom
- Vera Kaltwassers work in a German school
- Vipassana class for school classes in England, movie Time To Breathe
- Mindfulness project with teenagers by Soryu Forall Mind The Music
- Sow Seeds – Film Planting Seeds, Hopefully Seeing Soon! Click here for the trailer
Ask a teenager, “If you like a girl well, you want to meet her and want her to meet you, you want to know who she really is and you want her to know who you really are, but every time you do you’re acting like someone else – why is that happening? ” Answer by Soryu Forall: “This is a good question, I can only give you these techniques to pursue the question, to explore it further, and if you do that, the question becomes the answer.”
Growing with children – be mindful of parents
“Parents are welcome to simply be there in the Discovery Room and watch it in peace, invited to engage with their children’s rhythms, and to speak about periods of compassionate observation of all the issues that have arisen in children’s everyday lives to the independent movement development, to play and learn at your own pace, fall asleep and wake up, sleep in the family bed, attentively accompany crying, respectful care, breastfeeding, vials and first food. Small mindfulness exercises help parents in it, even in sometimes stressful everyday more and more relaxed to stay in benevolent contact with her child and herself.
You do not have to teach your child anything. You do not have to buy bells and whistles anymore. You do not have to do anything. You both can just live and enjoy the relationship that develops between you. Magda Gerber
Mindful playrooms for children
“The SpielRaum is a discovery space for children and adults, where the children, accompanied by their parents or their educators, can independently discover and explore the prepared play and movement materials and develop social behavior in cooperation.”
Fundamentals of the work are above all the experiences and research results of the Hungarian paediatrist EMMI PIKLER (1902-1984), the child psychologist and director of the Pikler Institute ANNA TARDOS (Budapest) and the movement pedagogue UTE STRUB (Emmi-Pikler-Haus eV, Berlin).
Basic principles of Emmi Pikler’s work
“Even the baby is a whole person – not a deficient being, to whom you have to ‘teach’ something. If one respects one’s dignity as an equal human being, one is willing to cooperate rather than one to control oneself, then untold growth potentials also open up for adults, the seemingly mature human being. “
In search of orientation, the more than sixty-year practical experience of Lóczy ‘is helpful because Emmi Pikler has shown that it is possible to make the careful and respectful treatment of children a reality both in the family and in an institution .
What do children need? –
What do children especially need to grow up happy?
“Most of all, you want to be seen by us, the glow in our eyes nourishes your soul, and you get the affirmation,” Yes, I love you, I’m happy you’re alive, and I’m happy about this miracle. ” If this message accompanies our children’s lives from the start, then chances are good that they will not be tormented by nagging self-doubts or compulsive ambition later on.Children need vibrant relationships in the family, kindergarten, and at school.
If we are not really present for them, they are suffering and are unsure of themselves. The big question that then determines their lives is, “What do I have to do to make Dad, Mom, or the teacher really see me? “If the child finds an answer to it, doing so will be extremely important to his life, and it will define itself from then on. If there is no answer, it will feel worthless and be sadly sad again and again. How we as adults relate to and behave towards the child, what messages we convey to them about ourselves, about ourselves, and the world, is a key factor in how it is experiencing and behaving at this moment and in the future. ”
Exercises to develop mindfulness in the family
In everyday life it quickly happens that we lose the connection to ourselves and our children. Mindfulness helps us to notice this and restore the connection. Twelve suggestions on how we can constantly develop mindfulness in the family in order to become more conscious in dealing with our children …
1. Who is this child?
Try to imagine the world from the perspective of your child, consciously detaching yourself from your own point of view. Do this every day for at least a few moments to remember who this child is and what he or she is facing in the world.
2. How do I look at my child?
Imagine how you work on your child or how you sound in his ears – the child you have today, right now, your mother or father. How could that affect how you feel at home in your body and how you move around the room, how you speak, and what you say? How would you like to relate to your child right now?
3. See the perfection
Practice to see your children as perfect as they are. Try to be aware of their sovereignty at any moment, and work on being able to accept them as they are, even in situations where you find this particularly difficult.
4. Be aware of expectations
Bring your expectations to the attention of your children, and consider whether they really are best for you. Also, try to understand how you convey these expectations and how they affect your children.
5. Nourish a selfless posture
Practice a selfless attitude by putting your children’s needs above your own whenever possible. Then try to see if there may be common ground so that your own true needs can be met. You may be surprised at how many overlaps there are, especially when you are patient and seeking balance.
6. Stand still …
Pause, if you feel like you’ve lost your way, as David Wagoner describes in his poem “Lost” :
“The forest is breathing. … “ Let his message speak to you: ” The forest knows where you are. You just have to let him find you … “
Meditate on the whole by paying close attention to the situation, your child, yourself and your family. In this way, you may be able to get beyond thinking, however positive and comprehensive it may be, and intuitively perceive with your whole being (your feelings, your intuition, your body, your mind and your soul) what is really to be done. If this is not clear to you every moment, perhaps it is best not to do anything until it has become clearer. Sometimes it’s good to just stay quiet.
7. Be present!
Practice in quiet presence. This ability can evolve from both formal and non-formal mindfulness practice, paying attention to how you behave and what you express with body, mind, and words. Listen carefully to yourself.
8. Go in at any moment
Learn to live with tension without losing your balance. In his book Zen in the Art of Archery, Eugen Herrigel describes how he learned to stand effortlessly at the moment of greatest tension without shooting the arrow. At the right moment, the arrow shoots itself in a mysterious way. Do this by practicing to go into every difficult moment, without wanting to change anything and without expecting any particular outcome. Just bring your full awareness and presence into this moment.
Practice seeing to it that when you are ready to be in the present, trusting in your intuition and instincts, everything that comes into its own can be processed. It is important for your child, especially when you are still very young, to be a center of balance and trustworthiness, a reliable landmark that can help you find points in your own landscape. Arrow and target need each other. To force something leads to nothing. They find each other better through wise attention and patience.
9. Apologies have a healing effect
Apologize to your child if you have even slightly hurt his trust. Apologies have a healing effect. If you apologize, you are expressing that you have thought about the situation in question, that you may now see it more clearly and, perhaps, better understand the child’s point of view. But on the other hand, we should also be wary of being sorry too often. If we apologize too often, if we make it a habit, it loses its meaning. Then it may result in us not taking full responsibility for our actions. Keep that in mind. To stew every now and then in the feeling of true repentance is a good meditation. Do not turn off the oven before the food is ready.
10. Every child is individual
Every child is unique, and each child has special needs. Each sees the world in its own unique way. Keep a picture of each of your children in your heart. Learn to appreciate the nature of each individual child, and wish the best for all of your children.
11. Be clear, strong and unmistakable
There are very important situations where we have to practice being clear, strong and unmistakable to our children. Strive to act out of awareness, generosity, and discernment as best you can, rather than out of fear, self-righteousness, or the need to control the situation. Mindfulness does not mean that we as parents are overly indulgent, careless or weak, nor are we rigid and dominant and controlling everything.
12. A constant inner work
The biggest gift you can give to your child is yourself. Therefore, part of your job as a mother or father is to grow in self-awareness and awareness. We need to be rooted in the present moment in order to share our deepest and best aspects with others. This is a constant inner work, but it can be helped by regularly reserving a period of quiet contemplation – however we like it most. We never have anything other than the now. Again and again, we have the opportunity to use it for our own good, for the sake of our children and for our own sake.