Mindfulness For Kids – Is It A Good Idea?


 

“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,

How I wonder what you are?

Up above the diamond….the world…sky….”

[Long Pause]

[Sobbing]

[Curtains close]

And your child comes running to you only to hug you and cry incessantly, leaving you disappointed.

Are you sorry and lost?

Would this have made you happy…?

Alternate scenario:

“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,

How I wonder what you are?

Up above the diamond….the world…sky….”

[Short Pause]

[A few normalizing breaths]

[Smiling]

“Up above the world so high,

Like a diamond in the sky!”

[Curtains close]

[Clapping]

And your child comes running to you only to hug and kiss you, leaving you proud, happy and contented!

What made the difference? The memory technique that the kid might have used? No!

That short pause and the special-yet-normal breaths did the trick!

But what’s so great about it? Just a few breaths and your kid would get everything right?

Yes! It is as simple and easy as it sounds!

Let me spill the beans and get you going! ‘Mindfulness technique’ is the hero of the game here!

Our most common and usual understanding of mindfulness says being careful and alert. The mindfulness technique that I am trying to make you aware of is slightly deeper and different.

In very simple words, it can be defined as focusing on the present moment and accepting whatever is happening without judgment. It can also be defined action-centrically as the shifting of focus your thoughts to a normal physical activity going on with you, at the same time.

Going by the usual definition, let’s get more mindful and start practicing and teaching mindfulness from as early an age as possible.
You got it right! Let’s sow the seed in our kids’ minds, for us and them both, to reap its benefits.

Mindfulness for kids – Is it a good idea?

It is as useful and important for kids, as it is for adults. In fact, it is more useful for kids as they are in the growing phase of life. Attention and Focus are their Gods of learning then and mindfulness techniques help them worship these!

What other benefits are there?

It teaches your kids to take control of things before they fall out of place, out of their hands! It trains them to look at problems and situations from a totally fresh and positive point of view, giving them that extra boost as and when required.

Children behavior tends to be more stable and steady post practicing mindfulness as compared to that of kids who don’t. The other lot obviously grows up under stress throwing unnecessary tantrums every now and then, possessing a negative attitude towards whatever happens in life.

According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,[1] practicing the technique helps children be more composed and balanced in nature. Such kids have a more considerate and kind attitude towards life which results in their overall emotional well being. The journal also talks about the resultant enhanced self-awareness in individuals.

Results of a pilot study on Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for children[2] talks about the effective reduction of anxiety levels in kids post the practice of mindfulness techniques. Anxiety if controlled well, results in better attention, uplifting the general emotional health of the child.

When should one begin?

Right away! You need to start with yourself in the shortest time under the sun; in order to teach your kid the ever important mindfulness. The sooner we adopt it and its simple techniques; the sooner our kids would follow us and grow up to be emotionally developed individuals. You want them to go a step ahead of you, don’t you?

Convincing the child

It might be a very challenging task to convince the child to practice it. Not because they would not believe in it, but it takes time for kids to pick up such practices at a young age. However, if the parents are themselves convinced and actively practice mindfulness then it becomes comparatively easy to get the kids to do it.

They can be drawn in to taking this up by telling them about the interesting benefits of this practice; only if they are old enough to understand. If not, then the parents can make a conscious show of the practice in front of the child so that it trickles down to her sub conscious mind and she gets convinced about its importance.

Techniques

Though meditation is one of the best techniques to achieve mindfulness; it might not be doable for certain kids who are very young. In such a case, here are a couple of techniques to get your kids through:

1. Whistle Blower

Ask your child to sit with her eyes closed and pay attention to any and every sound that she can hear and raise her hand when she hears one. Then, blow a whistle, ring a bell or clap your hands and see the magic! This will train her to pay attention to external physical activity than internal interruptions.

2. Breath winner

Ask your child to lie down flat on the floor and set a one minute alarm by your watch. Then, ask her to breathe in and out till the alarm rings up. This will train her to pay attention to her breathing.

3. Daily Deals

Get into a deal with your kid of practicing mindfulness as they do their routine activities like, walking, eating or even taking a shower. All you need to teach them is to take a pause and observe the activity they are involved in. Sense the activity, i.e., what it looks, sounds, feels, smells like, etc. For instance, just before beginning breakfast, ask them to take a pause, close their eyes and smell the food in their plate. This will help them develop and take control of their senses.

You can also ask your kids to draw a picture of a place they wish to visit. They can call it their ‘dream place’. After they are done, ask them to close their eyes and visualize themselves in their dream place. Ask them to do this whenever they feel they are wandering away from their studies or work. This will calm the child down and help her get her attention back to where it is supposed to be.

Even a simple daily activity like walking can come handy for a mindfulness technique. Walk along with your child and ask her to observe what she hears, sees or does as she walks. This will train her to focus her attention to the present moment making her a more alert child.

Such techniques and many more can be devised using our own creative juices to get the children to do it!
We all know, that only when you see your children get better, do you feel that life’s worth it! Being mindful yourself and teaching your kid to do the same will surely be a very rewarding and gratifying experience for you. Do let me know your comments as you see things change for good!

Related Reads:

Why Kids Should be Introduced to Yoga – Interview With Doreen Foxwell

References:

[1] Brown, K., & Ryan, R. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84 (4), 822-848 DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.4.822. ^Back to Top^

[2] Lee, J., Semple, R., Rosa, D., & Miller, L. (2008). Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Children: Results of a Pilot Study Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 22 (1), 15-28 DOI: 10.1891/0889.8391.22.1.15. ^Back to Top^

Last Updated: Jun 5, 2014

Next Scheduled Update: Aug 5, 2014


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