What are the tips in teaching mindfulness to children?
We know that mindfulness does us good.
Mindfulness allows us to be present as parents, choosing the most appropriate response instead of succumbing to our visceral reactions.
Mindfulness is also good for our children. There is a growing body of research that indicates that mindfulness can help children improve attention , calm themselves when they are angry, and make better decisions .
In short, it helps them in their emotional regulation and in their cognitive development . For this reason more and more parents and teachers are informed about mindfulness exercises for children.
This article is dedicated to parents and educators of children from 4 or 5 years old. Anyway, do I need to ask you if you want this for your children?
Includes tips and practical exercises to learn step-by-step meditation.
Mindfulness for children
So, where should we start? How can we teach these important skills to our children?
Lets start by the beginning…
Establish your own practice. It will probably be difficult for you to teach your little ones dance if you have never danced before. To teach mindfulness to your children in an authentic way, you have to practice it too. You can start little by little with a meditation practice of only five or 10 minutes a day.
Do not let this step intimidate you – most likely you already have some mindfulness habits!
Make it simple. Mindfulness is a complex word for children. In a nutshell, mindfulness is mindfulness. It is also consciousness or being present. It means realizing our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and anything that is happening to us right now .
Measure your expectations Do you expect mindfulness to eliminate tantrums? Calming your active child? To be calmer at home? If so, most likely you will be disappointed. While feeling calm or being calm are side effects of mindfulness, they are not your ultimate goal.
Benefits of applying mindfulness in children
The goal of teaching mindfulness to our children is to equip them with skills to develop their awareness of their inner and outer experiences, recognize their thoughts as “only thoughts”, understand how emotions manifest in their bodies, recognize when their attention is distracted, and provide tools to promote better control.
Mindfulness is not the panacea, and it will not completely eliminate what, frankly, is a child’s normal behavior, such as tantrums and screaming and whining and arguing …
Do not force it. If your children are not interested in your lesson or activity, let it be. This will be a good time for you to practice detachment from objectives!
Now that we have the preliminaries under control, here are some tips on how you can start introducing mindfulness to your children:
8 mindfulness exercises for easy and effective children
1. Listen to the bell. In this exercise we will try to listen to the sound of an instrument until it stops playing. For this activity we must use instruments with a great vibration like a Tibetan bowl, a harmonizer or a bell.
If you do not have any at hand, you can use an internet video or download an application for the mobile. I recommend the free Insight Timer app , available for iPhone and Android . The sound usually lasts between 30 seconds and one minute.
2. Look me in the eyes. This game is beautiful. In addition to developing attention is a wonderful tool to awaken empathy and create emotional bonds with siblings, parents or friends. We sit in pairs facing each other. For a while we have to look into each other’s eyes without losing contact. That will be our focus of attention!
3. Stand still like a frog. This is an exercise that is increasingly used. It is about children meditating imagining that they are frogs and adopt their position. In this way they will concentrate their attention on breathing and on how their gut increases and decreases.
All that time you will get that they are attentive and focused on your breathing. Aline Snel has published a book entitled ” Calm and attentive as a frog “, in which she teaches how to calm and reassure children. This is one of the most popular mindfulness exercises for children.
4. Do mindfulness by walking . This exercise can be one of the most revealing. Take advantage of one of the usual walks to encourage your child to watch as many sounds as he can for 60 seconds. If you live in the city, you will perceive much better the roaring background of people and cars, the music of the stores and even your own steps. You will see how he discovers a lot of new things!
5. Practice with a friend who breathes. For the little ones in the house, the instruction to simply “stop attention to the breath” can be difficult to understand. This exercise was invented by Daniel Goleman, who scientifically validated its benefits.
It consists of the child choosing a stuffed animal or doll, and put it on his belly while lying down. Then you should focus your attention on the up and down of the animal on entering and leaving the air. In this two-minute video (in English), Daniel Goleman explains how it works .
In this article you can see great adult breathing exercises for deep relaxation.
6. Establish a practice of gratitude . I believe that giving thanks is an essential component of mindfulness. Teach our children to appreciate the immaterial abundance in their lives. In this way, they may discount the importance of the toys or sweets that they so desire.
7. Make a jar of calm. The bottle of calm is one of the best known educational techniques of the Montessori method. Basically, the calm bottle is a pot filled with glitter and water that is designed to help little ones reduce states of anxiety or anger. It is very easy to implement and offers great results in the short term. In this article you can see how to make the jar of calm step by step .
8. Practice mindfulness eating. The exercise of eating a raisin or a piece of chocolate is a classic in the education of mindfulness. It is also a perfect activity for children. Here you can find more information on how to perform the raisin exercise .
Above all, remember that the most important thing is to have fun and make it simple. You can test which exercises are best for your children – some will work and others will not. In any case, experimenting is fun!