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Life nowadays is all about going too fast and getting things done, but in the heat of the moment, we forget to live in the now. Mindfulness has been shown to give kids and adults alike various cognitive and emotional benefits. From being able to manage stress better to being productive overall without putting in or exerting effort strenuously, mindfulness can change one’s life – but only if applied right.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is awareness. In simple terms, it is about being aware of our surroundings, how we feel and our connection with others. What it is not is numbing emotions but rather working through them in a non-judgemental way and simply letting go. There are already many scientific studies and extensive research being conducted in this area but one thing’s clear – mindfulness teaches one to respond and not react to their situations. This also leads to clearer decision making, boosts memory, and enhances one’s emotional intelligence too.
Benefits of Mindfulness for Your Child
Here are a couple of benefits of mindfulness for your child:
1. He Becomes More Alert
Since he becomes more aware, he becomes more alert. This translates into an improvement in his academic performance as he learns how to listen and truly pay attention.
2. His Observation Skills Improve
Since he learns to look around, he learns how to visually observe and really learn how to see more. If your child picks up art, this skillset will improve by leaps and bounds.
3. He Learns to Stay Calm
4. He Learns to Manage Emotions Better
Sometimes children numb their emotions and bottle them up. This is not healthy and can be detrimental to their wellbeing. Mindfulness helps your child manage and express his emotions better.
5. He Becomes More Productive
As his focus and emotional health improve, you’ll notice your kids getting more things done and generally being productive overall. Be it in the classroom or everyday life, his life changes for the better and he gets motivated when he sees himself accomplishing the goals he has set out to achieve.
6. He Learns to Saves Time
We waste a lot of time by going around in circles and repeating things mindlessly when we fail to succeed in them. Mindfulness teaches how to overcome this barrier by doing things one by one and doing them right. It focuses on quality over quantity and one thing at a time, not the scatter-brained approach, which will teach your child how to save time.
7. He Will Learn to Cope with Stress Well
Life is full of stress and with busier lifestyles, mindfulness doesn’t become an option but a necessity. When life throws hard challenges at your kid, he’ll be better equipped to handle them with the power of mindfulness in his arsenal.
8. He Will Notice an Improvement in His Mindset and Positivity
His thoughts change for the better and when the inner world starts changing, the outer world reflects it too. That’s one of the biggest reasons to teach mindfulness to children.
Effective Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Your Child
Here are some fun and unique mindfulness exercises for your child to try:
1. Trying Out the Daredevil Exercise
Remember how the Daredevil perched on rooftops and could sense or hear things miles away? Teach your kid the same thing – the safer version, of course. Take your kid to a slightly noisy area or a place with different kinds of sounds, like the park. Close both of your eyes and try to soak in the sounds, the feel of the wind, and any sensations you two experience. Describe what you felt and heard after a minute.
2. Trying Breathing Exercises With a Breathing Pal
Deep breathing can be a boring exercise for kids but can turn into fun when paired with a stuffed animal. Get him his favourite stuffed toy and tell him to lie down on his back. Simply breathe and tell him to notice how his pal rises and falls on his stomach with each breath.
3. Going on a Mindful Walk
This exercise is a fun one that doesn’t let kids realize that they’re practising mindfulness. For this, just tell your child to simply take a walk with you outside. When outdoors, ask about the different things he’s noticing in his surroundings and ask him to note the sounds he hears. Ask him what other things he noticed in his subsequent walks compared to the previous ones.
4. Practising Gratitude
This one’s a no-brainer but you should tell your child to practise gratitude. How do you do that? Maybe ask him what he liked about his favourite cartoon or to list a few good things that happened at school. Get him into the habit of being happy and appreciative because that’s one of the key elements of mindfulness.
5. Practising Mindful Eating
For this exercise, just ask your child to eat mindfully by chewing slowly. Ask him to feel the taste and texture by giving him a raisin. Let him eat slowly and make sure he doesn’t rush. No TV or distractions should be allowed during this exercise.
6. Describing What He’s Feeling
For just five minutes a day, ask your child what he feels. Tell him to sit and simply do nothing for those five minutes. Ask him to lie down on the floor, close his eyes, and describe in simple words – is he feeling stormy, cloudy, fiery, or empty inside? Ask him to let those feelings simply pass and not to judge or hate them. This is basically mindfulness-focused meditation for children.
7. Practising Yoga and Qi Gong
Yoga and Qi Gong are two therapeutic practices that incorporate breathing and mindfulness into their routines. Teach your child basic yoga and move on to Qi Gong for some challenging poses. It’ll not only be fun but your child will be breathing and will learn how to pay more attention to his body, inside and out.
8. Taking Up a Creative Hobby
Creative hobbies or mindfulness games and activities for kids like drawing, painting, sculpting, and music teach them how to be mindful. Plus, they’ll be creating something awesome at the same time. Your child will learn how to use his hands and pay attention to how they’re shaping things up. It’s called tuning in to the present moment and putting his mind to the activity at hand and not letting it wander. Doodling zentangles and mandalas are also fun mindfulness art exercises.
9. Picking Up Photography
Your child may pay attention to his surroundings more if you teach him some photography. Tell him to capture the lights and shades or the things he observes in his surroundings. Ask him to try to tell a story using images. It’ll teach him to work with his senses and really observe or be mindful.
10. Showing Him Documentaries
Some documentaries illustrate the benefits of mindfulness and show it in action. Those are fantastic ways to motivate your children to get in on the action. He’ll feel like taking up the practice even more once he watches the benefits unfolding right before his eyes. And it’s always good to have role models or someone to admire – just saying!
Points to Remember While Teaching Mindfulness to Kids
Here some tips and tricks to remember when you’re about to venture into the world of teaching mindfulness to your kids.
1. Lead by Example
This is a no-brainer, but if you don’t know what mindfulness feels like, you won’t be able to teach it to your kid. The best way to teach it by leading by example. What do we mean by that? It’s simple. Start practising it yourself for starters. Then teach it to your child after you’ve practised for a while and are positively reaping the benefits yourself.
2. ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ (KISS)
The KISS rule works like a charm when it comes to mindfulness. Don’t make things overly complicated. In fact, don’t even tell your child it’s mindfulness. Just take a playful approach, tell him it’s a fun game and play along. Learn through playing and having fun with these exercises, because that’s how kids do things.
3. Don’t Exert Him
Don’t force him to do these exercises. If you find him getting bored, let him go and do something else. He is more likely to come back to it when he’s not forced into doing it.
4. Have No Expectations
Because that’s the philosophy of mindfulness – just do and don’t expect. The results will come or appear soon enough. And it feels like magic when that happens.
Mindfulness is more of an art than science. You will find your child and yourself becoming more intuitive and establishing more of a connection with your inner self.