It’s true that everyone, no matter the age, can greatly benefit from mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness is getting more and more attention lately, which is great! It isn’t just a “New Age fad”, either. The Buddhist monks have been doing it for much longer!
Children have a lot of energy and they’re always on the move. It might not be realistic to expect a 4-year-old to do pay close attention to what they’re doing for very long, or even a 10-year-old, or even some adults, and that’s okay! We all have to start somewhere.
Why Teach Children about Mindfulness?
Now it’s usual to see how some people seek out the practice of mindfulness meditation to help children who have ADHD.
The regular mindfulness practice of just 10 minutes a day can help train your mind to fully focus on what you are doing. Everyone has to be able to concentrate and focus on their work. It’s definitely a helpful way to supplement any medications or other types of therapy they have access to treat it.
What you’re really doing when practicing mindful meditation is just paying attention ONLY to what you’re doing and experiencing in the present moment.
For example, maybe you have to go weed your garden. It needs to be done, but you just don’t feel like doing it that day. Taking the mindfulness approach would be perfect in this situation because there is a lot you can be paying attention to.
Pulling the weeds and feeling the sensation of the roots coming loose from the dirt. Hearing the snap blades of grass being pulled. Smelling the dirt and the fresh air. Listening to the birds singing as you work.
And after a while of working on this, weeding the garden starts to become a very enjoyable experience.
You can use the same method for teaching your children mindfulness, but not necessarily with gardening.
So then, how can we teach our children to be mindful?
We’ll be doing it little by little because it takes time and patience. If you’re going to teach your child or a group of children mindfulness meditation, you’ll most likely find it helpful to start practicing it yourself, if you haven’t already!
The Little Bird
If you’re stressed, the kids will pick up on it. They’re very receptive. Be aware of your own thoughts and emotions, and let them come and go without judgment. The Little Bird technique works to teach this to younger kids, between the ages of 3 and 8.
Teach them to think of each of their thoughts as a little bird that comes to sit on their hand. The little bird only stays there for a little bit and then it can fly away. It’s just a visitor. You can go on to explain to them how we can see our thoughts, but not let them immediately make us sad or angry, but to ask it why it’s there.
Spend Quality Time Together
We all lead busy lives but being mindful of each other, especially with our families, will always be important. You can blend your daily activities with your children with subtle mindfulness exercises.
Give them your full attention. Enjoy all the details of all the little moments. Get down on their level, look them in the eye, and really listen to them. Point out little details to them with wonder, and encourage them to do the same.
For the older kids in middle school and high school, these environments can be more stressful. That’s just one reason why it’s so important to teach them mindful meditation techniques. Learning while still in this early stage of development will help them easily turn it into a habit that they will continue to benefit from.
Encourage your teen to keep a journal so they can write down their feelings. Encourage them also to write a list once a week of things that made them happy. Many teens can use phone apps that will motivate them every day to practice mindfulness meditation.
Remember, that you should also spend quality time together to just enjoy the moment, and practice mindfulness together! Family meditations are available to help you and your family.
One fun and simple family mindfulness activity, is breaking out the coloring books and coloring together. Adult coloring books, as well as children’s coloring books, are usually inexpensive. Each family member can choose the page they want to color, and then working on coloring for 10 minutes at a time. The younger ones might end up stopping sooner than the adults, but progress is progress.
Need more guidance on mindfulness? Contact me for private coaching! I work with adults and children alike to help cultivate a growth mindset that is grateful and aware, and so much more.
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