Life is just too busy. We all know that. There are just too many things to do, and too few hours in the day to do them all. And because you rarely have time to breathe (much less soak up every second with your kids), it's understandable that mindfulness might not even bother you right now. But being present is so, so important, not only for you as parents, but for your whole family.
Shikha Arastogi, a life coach, suggests that you take a few deep breaths before you teach your kid how to meditate. That way, instead of reacting, you choose to respond to your kids' behavior with love.
What exactly is mindfulness?
If mindfulness sounds like something you need a yoga studio and a life coach for, then consider it: it's all you need to do is be present with your own thoughts, feelings, and body sensations in the moment. For kids, this means learning how to self-regulate is one of the most important skills that they can acquire. According to Anderson, positive relationships develop between parents and children and their peers.
What are the benefits of mindfulness activities?
When you meditate regularly, you learn to not dwell on your own emotions or try to hide negative thoughts. For example, when you meditate regularly, you discover that negative thoughts are not dangerous, and that you can live your life without it.
What are some mindfulness activities for kids?
It's so easy to fall asleep and watch television with your child. And while there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, switch off the television for a moment and learn to tell stories about other people. Shear, a certified joy coach, suggests that rather than telling stories about other people, families use storytelling to explore how they're feeling and seeing things in the moment, without judgment.
Shear continues that by giving your child the chance to choose their own stories, they'll not only learn to be present, but they'll also have other benefits, such as improved listening. Perhaps telling stories about ourselves might help us better understand ourselves and strengthen our sense of worth and worth.
When youre sitting with a fussy 4-year-old, do something instead. Try to be quiet and just relax together. For your child's attention, do not leap up and run away. Talk about how you both felt in those five minutes, and remember, do not judge yourself in what you both said.
Dr. Amy Saltzman, a physician, mindfulness coach, and author, encourages children to be curious about these emotions, as well as to recognize how they manifest themselves: weeping, whining, giggling, or emptying.
Saltzman suggests you reflect on how you feel now and praise yourself for taking the time to be with, and befriend, your feelings. Then, take time to relax in stillness and quietness for a bit longer. This teaches your child that you may have your feelings without them having you.
Melissa Bailey, LMHC, is a licensed mental health counselor who teaches kids how to reconnect with their five senses. First observe five things they can see around the room, such as the household pet or their favorite toy. Then notice three things you can smell (ie. the smell of a nearby candle, the scent of breakfast, etc.).
This exercise purposefully encourages your child (and you) to slow down and pay attention to the world in a whole new way. It allows your child to be fully present in the moment, in complete harmony with their five fantastic senses.
When you're hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, do a system check with H.A.L.T. first, or if your child is irritable, do a system check with them.
Consider this: We are often forced to smile, even when we don't want to (like all those times you tell your child to say Cheese! for a picture when they're pouting). That's why an Inside the Smile mindfulness exercise is so effective. First, observe what makes your child smile: baking cookies or taking your dog for a walk in nature.
Mindfulness can have a huge impact on how your child perceives themselves, how they deal with and process themselves, and how they interact with others. By intentionally slowing down, it allows for greater enjoyment in everyday living. And that should be on everyone's to-do list.
Sara Anderson, a licensed professional counselor, LPC, NCC, CAC II CYT
Shikha Arastogi, a life coach, has been recognized by the British government.
Robin Shear, a certified joy coach, has given her advice on life.
Amy Saltzman, M.D., is a physician, mindfulness coach, and author.
Melissa Bailey, LMHC, is a licensed mental health counselor.