Mindfulness is paying attention with purpose and being self-aware in the present moment. In turn, practicing mindfulness with children teaches them to regulate their emotions and be self-aware. Children who are taught mindfulness at a young age are more likely to be confident, patient, stress resilient, and have healthy coping mechanisms. However, first it must start with the parent or childcare provider; you must be present, calm, and stress savvy to help raise a mindful and self-aware child. Try practicing mindfulness with children by following these 5 techniques.
Yoga is a great way for children to calm their bodies, transition between activities, or settle down before bed. Sleepy Little Yoga, by Rebecca Whitford and Goodnight Yoga, by Mariam Gates are great books to read together. You can also start your day with one of the Cosmic Kid’s Yoga stories on YouTube. Read more about the benefits of yoga and different poses to do with kids in our blog, Practicing Infant & Toddler Yoga.
Responsive, Loving Care
Studies show that infants and toddlers exposed to lots of nurturing touch are more likely to develop into stress-resilient adults. Physical affection, friendly talk, and sympathetic body language help release oxytocin. Responding to a child in a timely manner allows them to feel heard and build trust. All of these tactics teach children to cope with their negative emotions, as well as develop secure, healthy attachment relationships.
Read Moody Cow Meditates, by Kerry MacLean to your children and then make a meditation jar together (sensory bottle). Visualization is great for kids. Even if they cannot articulate the concept in words, their brain absorbs this information and learns that eventually their mind and body will calm and settle as well.
Teaching breathing is a way to practice mindfulness children and allows them to focus their attention solely on breathing. Overtime this will help them learn how to concentrate on one thing at time. Breathing techniques can help children redirect their focus away from an upsetting situation, such as a scraped knee or lost toy. When your child is upset, if they are open to a hug, breathe together so they can feel your chest rise and fall with theirs. Long deep breaths supply oxygen to the brain which signals your parasympathetic nervous system to relax and calm your body.
Emotional Mindfulness With Children
Emotional regulation is enhanced through mindfulness. Being mindful allows you to be present and therefore aware of your emotions so you are able to process your feelings. Self-regulation, or the ability to intentionally manage one’s emotional resources to accomplish goals, is crucial in everyday life. Caregivers should always model sharing feelings, so children can feel comfortable talking about them as well. In addition, parents and nannies should model appropriate ways to handle their emotions with coping techniques that children can use. Try hanging a paper up at a child’s level with handprints to push their anger out.
To learn more about including mindfulness with children sign up for our online class, Mindfulness: Raising Self-Aware Children. It is taught by BBNN’s Founder Carole Kramer Arsenault, R.N. who’s certified as a mind and body instructor as well as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) instructor certified through Benson-Henry Institute at Mass General Hospital. The co-instructor is Elizabeth Ekborg who has worked abroad as a Reki Master and is a certified Hatha Yoga instructor and Kundalini.