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Kids are always go, go, go: moving from one activity to another, flicking from one screen to the next.
Children don’t yet have the self-awareness to reflect on life as they live it. It’s up to us adults who have discovered the value of mindfulness to influence the next generation to live mindfully.
Give the following strategies a go, and your kids will be the most mindful wee ones on the block before you can say “om”.
- Prompt them to reflect
It can be difficult for children to reflect on their own feelings and sensations of their own accord; they usually need some outside assistance to register exactly how they feel. All you need to do is help them to reach within themselves and articulate their affective, intuitive responses.
Do this by asking questions. What do they feel beneath their feet, if they were to close their eyes and name it? What’s the last thought that ran through their mind? How do they feel in this moment? Do they like it? Why not? Are they happy? Why not? As your child grows in self-knowledge and self-awareness, you might just find yourself discovering much more about them, too.
- Visit an art gallery
Art galleries are all about pausing and just seeing. Visiting a gallery is one of the most effective forms of meditation. As you examine a piece of art, everything else fades into a blur, and just the lines and colours of the piece before you remain. You’re able to stop and absorb the enormity of the moment in all its perfection.
This isn’t an experience reserved solely for adults, either. Kids, perhaps even more so than jaded grown-ups, can stare in awe at a picture that fascinates them for hours on end. The trick is to seek out exhibitions which will really absorb your kids’ attention, and to encourage them to bring a good pencil and a paper pad in case they feel inspired to doodle.
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- Make mindfulness a habit
Once you start practicing mindfulness with your children, you can quickly make it a habit – you just need repetition and regularity on your side!
The best thing about mindfulness is that it can be practiced anytime, anywhere. When you change locations or drive somewhere new, for example, you can encourage the kids to reflect aloud about where they are now, and how they feel about the change. Another fantastic opportunity to practice mindfulness is at the dinner table: put away all distractions, and get your kids to concentrate on the sensation of the food in their mouths.
- Practice mindful breathing
Conscious breathing is the classic mindfulness technique, and there’s a good reason for that: breathing is, after all, the thing that keeps us existing from one minute to the next, the thing that allows us to exist from moment to moment. Kids love a bit of “belly breathing” as much as the rest of us – so put some twinkly music on, get your yoga mats out, and do a mini meditation practice as a family.
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- Reflect on your own family management
You can do all the mindfulness yoga in the world, but if your kids are bound to a schedule which doesn’t grant them a moment to stop and breathe, all of that will be for nothing. Few children thrive off a weekly schedule stuffed with intensive extra-curriculars and to-and-froing: to really be kids and develop as mindfulness practitioners in their own right, they need room to breathe. Indeed, the best thing you can do as a parent is to be a good example of mindful living yourself – and that starts with instituting a principle of chill in your day-to-day family affairs.
A wise man once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein. Harper lives by these words and constantly tries to see the blessing in every little thing. Find out more by visiting her blog here.
By Harper Reid, https://msharperreid.wordpress.com/