QUIET your mind
We live in a world that can be fast-paced and overwhelming. We’re overstimulated by screens, technology, and being inundated by a constant flow of information. This can cause us to feel stressed, anxious, fearful, and depressed.
When we think of past events, feelings of guilt and regret can surface and overwhelm us, just as thoughts of the future may bring about fear and anxiety.
The solution is to become mindful. By doing so, your mind will quiet itself and allow you to focus on what is right in front of you. Implementing mindfulness has huge benefits for our overall well-being. It is known to help regulate emotions, instill peace, decrease stress and even reduce chronic pain. It brings us to a place of acceptance without judgment. It helps us recognize that the only control we have is how we handle the present moment.
Our children are human sponges born into a technological age filled with an abundance of information. They need to have the tools to give them the ability to disconnect from constant stimuli and find ways in which to quiet their minds. The following are some ways we can equip our little ones to be more mindful.
Being conscious of our breath is a great start to calming the mind. By doing so, we tell our brains that we are safe and it allows us to relax. We focus on each breath and detach ourselves from outside distractions.
There are many breathing techniques. One of my favorites is the 4-7-8 method, also known as the Relaxing Breath Exercise. It was developed by Dr. Andrew Weil and aids in relaxation and stress management.
These are the steps of the exercise:
• empty the lungs of air
• breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds
• hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds
• exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds
• repeat the cycle up to 4 times
I’ve often used this with my children when they are upset, having trouble sleeping, or feeling anxious.
For other breathing techniques that are great for children, check out this article by moshisleep.com.
Try incorporating deep breathing exercises with your children daily. They can use them throughout their day when they find themselves in a stressful situation or at bedtime to help them relax.
yoga/meditation for you and them
Yoga and meditation aren't just for adults. Children can benefit from both as well. Research has shown that "yoga can improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behavior, and can even reduce anxiety and stress in children."
Cosmic Kids Yoga has a wonderful interactive YouTube series that is perfect for introducing yoga to children. They have hundreds of yoga workouts that use storytelling and adventures to engage and entertain. The video below is a great example of their awesome content.
Meditation is also known to have the same benefits and doesn't require getting into difficult poses. According to a Parents.com article, "Meditation can help kids read and respond to internal signals of stress before their developing brains and bodies give in to a full-blown tantrum. The key is intuiting what your child needs to come back into balance and giving him or her the tools to practice." The article, Meditation for Kids: A Beginner's Guide, is a great resource for various meditation techniques at different stages of learning.
We often go into autopilot-- rushing through our routines, getting lost in our phones, and miss out on the beauty that surrounds us in our daily lives. Take the time to disengage from it all.
Go for a walk and appreciate the sounds, smells, and feelings you are experiencing. Take your kiddos with you and share in the moment. Make it fun and play a game of I Spy. This will not only give you a chance to interact with your child but also give you the opportunity to take notice of things you may have overlooked with fresh eyes.
Make a list or have a conversation with them about the things you are grateful for. A great daily exercise of gratitude is to list three things that you are thankful for from the day before. This will help you and your children make mental notes throughout the day of things to share.
It's so important that your children see you doing these things.
be a present parent
It's a bit complicated to tell a child how to be mindful. It's best to set the example and demonstrate what mindfulness entails. Let them see you meditate in your comfy chair in the morning. Give them your undivided attention. Listen intently as they tell you about their day. Share your feelings and let them tell you about how they are feeling.
A wonderful way to do this is to have them compare their emotions in the form of weather. Are they happy like a sunny day? Angry like a storm? Sad like a cloudy day? Bring them into your mindful moments and they will be better prepared to practice mindfulness in their own lives.
books to help encourage mindfulness
Books are a wonderful tool to use when reinforcing an understanding of mindfulness in our little ones. Along with teaching through example and talking to your child as the circumstances arise, reading to them can also help you reinforce this message. Here are some great books we found for you!
Please enjoy this free Tot Tails coloring page to help share this message with your child.