Many of us in the Western world were not raised with mindfulness as a core teaching. We mastered basic math, science, and writing at a young age, but mindfulness likely didn’t take center stage in our upbringing. Today, mindfulness practice is growing all around the globe and one of the specific areas of great interest to many is how to share mindfulness with children.
The rise in the interest of mindfulness for kids is understandable. Studies have found that children benefit from mindfulness practice just as adults do. Mindfulness practice improves the wellbeing of children as it:
But how do we introduce mindfulness to children? The great thing about mindfulness for kids is that it doesn’t need to be complicated. All we need to encourage is their ability to pay attention. We can get creative with it and explore different mindfulness exercises and activities that can deepen their understanding of how to engage mindfully with the world.
6 Tips for Sharing Mindfulness With Children
Invite them to notice the way their breath moves through them.
Whether during a formal meditation practice or when your child is feeling anxious or stressed, invite your child to simply notice the breath. Encourage them to observe how far the breath flows and how fast it is moving – without judgment. Formal breathing meditations should be short for kids to help them remain engaged.
Take a mindful walk through nature.
Time spent in nature is a wonderful opportunity for mindfulness practice. To share mindfulness with children in this sort of setting, invite them to keep their awareness open to the wildlife they encounter and to the colours, sounds, and sights. You might also invite them to notice how they feel being in nature. Reflecting upon changing seasons is a fun theme to explore with kids as well.
Embrace creative visualizations.
There are plenty of creative visualizations that you can use with your child during the day or before bed time. This is a fun way to encourage their imagination to flow in inspiring ways. The free Mindfulness Meditations for Kids course includes a series of kid-friendly visualizations that you can listen to with your child.
Invite them to share what they’re grateful for each morning.
Both kids and adults can fall into a pattern of focusing on the negative, the stressful, or the fear-inducing. This is why gratitude practice is an effective practice of mindfulness for children and adults alike. While eating breakfast, you might consider inviting each family member to share one thing they are grateful for about the day they’ve woken up to.
Help them to get curious about where emotions arise in the body.
When emotions arise for your child, encourage them to become kind, patience, and curious towards these emotions. You might ask them to share how the emotion is influencing or showing up in their body. Does it make them want to turn inwards? Does it make their fists or jaw clench? While practicing this, ensure that you are also encouraging mindful expression of the thoughts associated with the emotion. This will help the child to feel heard, seen, and cared for.
Lead by role-modeling openness, curiosity, and patience.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, a great way to share mindfulness with children is through your own example. Are you open and curious towards your own feelings, thoughts, and emotions? Do you exemplify patience in the face of difficulty? This will help your child to feel inspired and safe to explore their own experience with mindfulness. Commit to your own practice as you explore mindfulness for children to deepen what you can offer your child. Your own commitment will go a long way.