We still tend to think about mindfulness as a practice for adults only. BUT there are plenty of studies that prove the benefits for kids too.
You don't have to be an expert or have any special skills to teach children mindfulness. It does help to have the right tools at your disposal :) All you really need is your voice, your presence, and your love. Basically you got to be mindful too!
Let’s talk about the a few benefits of creating mindful activities and exercises! A big one being neuroplasticity; increasing the ability of the brain to rewire itself, by creating new pathways that makes us more flexible, mentally. Learning mindfulness has also been found to have significant effects on the brain functioning of children; from helping regulate their stress and emotions to building character, and encouraging resiliency. As well as allowing children a sense of self, emotions or interpersonal interactions to develop at their natural pace throughout life. It's been also proven to help kids with certain symptoms such as ADHD and dyslexia to be more attentive, engaged, organized and relaxed in school.
How to Introduce Mindfulness to children.
Breathing techniques have always been a fun way to involve, challenge and engage in mindfulness breathing. Creating certain breathing routines that you can practice together, right before leaving to school, before play dates or even as you run errands, is a very successful way to get your kids in the habit of breathing consciously. A lot of kids feel encouraged to resort back to these breathing techniques whenever they feel overwhelmed and you are not around. This plays into developing mechanisms that they can practice anytime and anywhere.
There are also, many mindful games, workbooks and activities that have been put together to offer practical tools that can be used regularly. To me, the activity that is the most successful is the one your kids feel most drawn too. That maybe coloring a mandala book, it maybe jumping into balancing yoga poses, or it maybe an interactive game where we express gratitude and observations.
My personal favorite way to introduce mindfulness is through stories! I find that children tend to associate and remember better when things are received in story form. Having a character they relate to, that practices mindfulness can be an effective way at bringing mindfulness into your children’s world. For example; Maya the Mindful Monkey; follows the story of a relaxed Maya who practices conscious breathing, among a group of restless monkeys. When a new monkey, Max comes along, he is overwhelmed with emotions as he tries to fit into this new place. Luckily Maya guides him through a breathing technique that helps him settle and feel more confident.
Written in rhyming verse, this story maybe a fun way to introduce these mindful methods and make it easy for your kids to remember them.
Whenever you see your children handling their emotions with ease, articulating their thoughts without frustration, relaxed in their sense of self. Mindfulness is what is happening here.
This ability to find ease in everything we do, with anyone we interact with, in any place we may be, is a muscle we can practice, and eventually control.
When we are mindful we allow room for life to speak to us and through us.
When we are mindful, we are relaxed in the moment, as it is.
When we are mindful, we are present.
What better way to teach our kids to be present, then to be present ourselves.