Did you know that teaching your kids mindfulness techniques could improve their behavior without punishment? It can even boost their mental health.
Mindfulness has myriad benefits for people of all ages. However, you have to use an age-appropriate approach. Here are nine tips for teaching your kids mindfulness — you’ll both enjoy the perks.
People, especially little ones, tend to act impulsively when their feelings take over and get the best of them. However, you want your kids to learn what psychologist Victor Frankl refers to as the true freedom that lies between an emotional trigger and choosing an appropriate response. Taking a deep breath — or several — is an ideal way to curb maladaptive reactions and pick healthier ones.
Deep breathing works bycreating similar physiological conditionsin your body that exist when you are relaxed and calm. When your child gets upset, have them imagine they have a bubble wand. They have to take a big inhale and slowly create as many bubbles as possible. It helps to practice this technique while they are relaxed so that they turn to this coping mechanism when trouble strikes.
Part of mindfulness entails watching your actions and ensuring they cause no unintentional harm. The following exercise teaches your children to take care of delicate things — like feelings.
Giveyour little ones an uncooked eggand have them pass it back and forth. You can have them pretend it’s a baby they don’t want to hurt or merely challenge them to see how long they can go without making a sticky mess.
Are your kids into superheroes? Many children are — harness that admiration to teach mindfulness.
Have your children pretend that they are Spiderman. Their spidey-senses are on full alert. What can they see? Hear? Touch? Smell?
Activities like yoga can help make your children more mindful of their bodies and how they move through space. They also help teach valuable motor skills to developing muscles.
However, most kids won’t naturally take to adult-style learning, so bring your instruction to their level by comparing various poses to animal movements. Teach asanas like tree pose and dancer pose by having your kids pretend they are storks dancing on one leg. Show them how to round their spines like scared Halloween kitties. You can evenintroduce them to ujjayi breathingby having them imitate Darth Vader.
Have you tried the mindfulness activity where you focus oneating a single raisinfor several minutes? You can make this activity more kid-sized with the help of some chocolate.
Give your little one a square, but ask them to pause before digging into the goodness. Have them take a few moments to gaze at the piece, touch it, even sniff it before tasting. Instruct them to let it melt on their tongue as they explore the taste and sensation.
Powerful emotions can increase your heart rate. Help your children become aware of how their feelings impact their physical selves by having them count their heartbeats.
Set a timer for one minute and have your little one place their hand over their heart. Tell them to count the beats. As a bonus, try a moment or two of deep breathing in between, then retry the experiment to see if their pulse decreased.
Part of mindfulness involves becoming aware of how other people perceive you and how your attitude affects their moods. This exercise is a fabulous one for teaching emotional regulation. It helps your children recognize that while they are entitled to their feelings, they don’t have the right to make others feel bad by acting on them.
Download a free feelings chart template and spend time introducing your kids to the various emotional terms. Ask them how they feel when you ask them to clean their room or announce you’re going to the playground. Then, inquire how they think certain behaviors they engage in affect other people’s moods.
It’s challenging to make good decisions when your mind is clouded with a whirlwind of powerful emotions. Teach your children why it is valuable to pause and consider their responses before reacting, even if it means letting time work its magic before they leap.
Fill a jar with water and confetti. Shake the container, and have your children observe how long it takes the colored sparkles to float back to the bottom. Explain that their bodies work in much the same way by releasing powerful emotions, making their judgment as cloudy as an agitated snow globe. Giving things time to settle will help them see more clearly.
Many parents have their children recite prayers at bedtime, which qualifies as a mindfulness activity. However, if you don’t embrace a particular faith, you can still harness this quiet time to teach your children introspection.
Before they go to bed, ask your child to name one worry, then visualize wrapping it up and placing it in a box for the evening. Explain that it will still be there in the morning, safe and sound, when they can examine it with fresh eyes.
Finish on a positive note by asking them to bring to mind one thing that made them feel happy or proud that day. You can even lead them througha brief guided meditationto ease them into dreamland.
Mindfulness techniques benefit folks of all ages — including your precious little ones. Use the nine tips above to teach your kids these methods and improve their behavior and mental health.