A mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, through gentle nurturing techniques.
Mindfulness – trending catchphrase or miracle techniques calming adult minds world-wide?
What if I told you that mindfulness isn't just for grown-ups and that introducing mindfulness techniques to young children can help them to develop their emotional and social skills early?
It’s true! Mindfulness techniques can teach your little ones important life skills such as self-regulation, the ability to differentiate feelings, and the importance of moment-to-moment non-judgmental awareness. In fact, certain mindfulness techniques have been found to enhance focus and concentration, reduce anxiety, engage creativity, and promote overall wellbeing and positivity. They’re even a great way to teach kids empathy, patience, and resilience - all of which can lead to a better quality of life and a much happier child.
So, here are my favourite ways to nurture healthy little minds:
1: Mindful Breathing: Little ones struggling with anxiety or nerves? Teach them to stay in the moment by focussing on their breath using these simple breathing techniques:
- The Bunny Breath Just like a bunny, encourage your child to take three quick sniffs in through the nose, and one long exhale out through the mouth.
- Blowing Bubbles Remind your child how softly they need to blow to get a nice big bubble. Encourage them to take a deep breath in and blow it out soft and long.
- Box Breathing Create a little breath box. Breathe in for four counts. Hold for four counts. Breathe in for four, hold for four. Make sure you add a deep breath at the end to fill their little lungs.
2: Body Scan: Have kids lie down comfortably for a guided body scan. Talk them through each area slowly - starting from the head and working your way down to their toes, increasing their awareness of each body part by asking them to feel the sensations that arise. Combine this with breathing techniques for a full body relaxation technique.
3: Gratitude Practise: This one was always a big one at our house. At bedtime, encourage your kids to tell you 3 things that they are grateful for from their day. For a little extra mindfulness – ask them what one thing they did that helped someone else that day and then ask them to tell you one thing that someone did for them that was helpful.
4: Mindful Eating: Have kids take the time to observe and acknowledge the smells and tastes of their food. Provide them with lots of options and include colour and textures for them to play with and describe. They may not eat everything you put on their plates, but the experience will encourage mindfulness around healthy eating and an awareness of nutritional food.
5: Meditation: When everything feels like it’s rushed and overwhelming, meditation can bring your child’s mind back to a state of calm. Give kids access to calming music and quiet time, download meditation apps or find guided videos that are designed specifically for little ones.
6: Colouring: Remember how you laboured over your colouring books when you were little - nothing else mattered! Teaching kids to use colouring time as a way to quiet the mind and focus their attention can be a great way to calm anxiety and relieve stress.
7: Yoga: Yoga poses, and breathing can help kids become mindful of their body and their emotions. Yoga helps improve their concentration and memory and can enourage them to self-regulate. Already practising yoga yourself? Why not take them along to a class? This can be a great way to mirror mindfulness techniques for your child and a fantastic bonding experience for you both.
8: Singing Bowls Singing bowls are a wonderful way to create a calming atmosphere and to help young children bring their attention back to the present moment. The vibration of singing bowls (and sound baths generally) have been known to stimulate the brain, assist with mental clarity and can be used to encourage relaxation.
9: Grounding: Sometimes it takes a little more than just colouring and singing bowls to bring little ones back to calm – Here’s a simple grounding technique that’s often used to calm anxiety and panic attacks in older children and adults alike.
Have them focus on their breath and then ask them these 5 questions:
- 5: Tell me FIVE things you see around you. ...
- 4: Tell me FOUR things you can touch around you. ...
- 3: Tell me THREE things you can hear. ...
- 2: Tell me TWO things you can smell. ...
- 1: Tell me ONE thing you can taste.
10: Connect with Nature: Get outside! Get some sun. Take their shoes off and let your kids run in the grass or through the ocean. It may sound silly but running or walking barefoot through grass for 30 minutes can help improve their sleep quality, reduce inflammation, regulate their little hearts and, according to reflexology, can even help improve their eyesight!
Now, if you don’t mind – I’m off to meditate…
Mary Anastasiou A self confessed chocoholic, pluviophile and lover of all things kid lit, Mary writes books that she hopes will engage, inspire and empower little people on their journey to becoming big people.
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