There is more awareness around child mindfulness than ever before. Research has shown that taking care of your child’s mind and awareness can have an enormous effect on their emotional, mental and even physical health for years to come. Although “mindfulness” has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years, and it can be a little bit ambiguous for all intents and purposes, there are specific aspects to it which can be used daily to help the development of your child.
This guide will take you though some of the most popular and most efficient methods that you can put into practice today.
One of the biggest mindfulness techniques which can be implemented from an early age is developing compassion. Aside from the obvious benefits of developing a more compassionate thinker, compassion training can have a knock-on effect on other parts of your child’s development, including better social skills, and a more general positive outlook on life. One way of developing compassion is an exercise called “friendly wishes” by Annaka Harris, which includes guided visualisations that you can practise with your little one.
Early stress management
There are two aspects to this – dealing with existing stress or distress in your child, and insuring them against future challenges with emotional guidance. For current issues, there are 4 main signs that your child is feeling stressed.
- Showing fear and resistance at bedtime (more than usual)
- Strong emotional reactions around anger, sadness, anger, or withdrawing from normal activities
- Physical ailments including headaches
- Nervous body language and anxious tics
Kids experience stress in a similar way to adults in the sense that they’ll let it out through anger or extreme emotions. This can be misread for misbehaviour, so in this case it’s also the parent’s job to be mindful not to “punish” the child if it’s possible they are reacting to stress in some way. Instead, try to communicate with them as to why they are angry/sad/withdrawn, listen to everything they have to say, and look for clues where possible, which will help you to take the next steps.
Emotional reaction modelling
Whether you notice it or not, your children will model your emotional reactions. Even with a little bit of split porridge on the floor at breakfast time. If your reaction is to curse, tut, and get frustrated before rushing for a cloth, they will pick up on this intensity and model it themselves.
The next time they make a mistake or knock something over, their reaction is likely to be stress and anxiety. A better option is to stay as calm and positive as possible, and saying “oops, never mind” before cleaning it up. It may sound like a very small thing, but you are teaching your child how to cope with mistakes, and how to stay positive. This really does set them up for later life!
Meditation for kids
This may sound like an off-the-wall suggestion, even impossible if you are used to having bouncy, loud children running around the house. But in fact, a lot of work has been put into making meditation sessions which really work. Not only are they constructed in way that will keep their attention, they will succeed and keeping them calm and focused.
Children are humans just like we are, and they need to re centre every now and then just the same as we do. Take a look on Youtube for children’s meditation videos, you can usually narrow them down to gender and age to be more appealing.
Practising mindfulness in your child isn’t all about having them meditate and focus. Even the simple things such as rewarding them for positive behaviour has an effect on their emotional state (not to mention confidence).
It doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise – Toys for a Pound offer a great opportunity for affordable, small games, puzzles and and other toy options which can be used for completing chores, for handling a stressful situation well, for being nice to others, (frankly for anything you see fit). Pound toys are a great way of setting up a great system for this.