Most children grow up incredibly stimulated these days. The majority of kids in restaurants are given tablets to keep them occupied, or smart toys with 1001+ ways to entertain. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – kids have naturally curious minds, and love soaking up as much knowledge as they can. However, this constant multitasking and upscaling of entertainment means that it can be hard for kids to feel satisfied by stillness.
The benefits of mindfulness training for kids are numerous, ranging from improved empathy and social skills to better focus, creativity and academic performance. Teaching your child the value of mindfulness will help them to be calmer and less stressed in the face of adversity as they learn to self-soothe. Mindfulness also teaches kids to take in the beauty of the world around them, rather than always seeking external stimulation. It helps children to feel okay with simply sitting with themselves, rather than rushing off to the next activity.
Try the following tips with your child, and give them the gift of mindfulness. Remember that the greatest way to encourage any behaviours in your child is to lead by example, so try this advice as a family for maximum benefit.
Every child will have different triggers that cause them to act mindlessly instead of mindfully. Mindlessly refers to when your children seems distracted, not themselves, or overwhelmed by what is going on around them. It’s occurs when they are processing many different things at once – they become lost in chaotic thoughts, rather than experiencing the present.
Many parents find that this state tends to mostly occur when children are experiencing a constant flow of information, such as those times when they are glued to their tablet with the television on. Other times that you may notice your kids getting easily distracted is after eating sugar or overly processed food.
When you find your kids in these distracted states, you can use it as an opportunity to create a more mindful situation. You could turn off the devices and go for a walk, or play a game where you pretend you are from outer space and are discovering the world around you.
Instead of buying ready-made processed food or feeding kids sugar, you could make a meal from whole foods together. Just remember, trying to quit sugar with your kids can be very tricky! Don’t despair though – by adding some well-cooked grains such as brown rice cooked with sea salt to the family diet, you can increase your levels of good glucose and decrease the body’s craving for sugar. Diet is all-important when it comes to increasing your child’s mindfulness. As the digestive system becomes sluggish in the hour or so after eating sugar, it becomes hard to focus, and a feeling of fogginess increases.
If your kids have become dependent on their devices or are used to their over-stimulated state of being, they may resist you on this one. While it may pain you to see them distressed as you take away their devices or deny them ice cream, remember it’s up to you to be their parent, not their friend. Try to see the benefits of the bigger picture instead of caving in to crying and whinging.
Volunteer with your child, as true mindfulness manifests in community giving and friendship. You can help children to foster a sense of interconnectedness with the world around them by helping out and being active in your community. This could be at local nursing home, soup kitchen, animal shelter, or whatever charity you choose.
Volunteering is a great way to show kids that things may not be as they perceive them in their head, as well teach that actions with good intent can have a positive effect on the world around them. Your children will benefit from volunteering directly as their empathy and sense of gratitude deepen. Others will benefit too, as young people contributing to a better world can inspire and calm those in need.
One of the benefits of mindfulness in kids is that their creativity can really flourish. Studies have found that a lack of emotional tension tends to give kids a better aptitude for creative tasks. Without worry or self-consciousness, kids can really throw themselves into the arts. Find out what interests your kid, whether it is playing a musical instrument, creative coding, learning to paint, or getting messy with sculptures. Encourage this activity, as it may become a future outlet or source of mindfulness for your child.
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