As we’re starting the first week of October school should already be in full swing. Kids are starting to get used to the morning to afternoon classroom routine again and there are more to learn as each week progresses. There’s probably a bit more homework depending on the age and school as students are absorbing more and more information as the days go by. Which leads me to the next topic for this week, and that’s teaching our kids to be more mindful.
Mindfulness is being aware of what you’re doing at the moment. It’s a wonderful practice that both adults and children should learn and do as often as possible. For some, it is a way of life as being mindful teaches us to be in the moment and to deal with the situation as it is. While it takes a lot of patience to begin this practice, it is a good technique for kids to learn when they’re at a young age. As children become more aware of their surroundings and the things they do, gradually they’ll take this mindfulness into adulthood and learn to deal with stressful situations in a more positive and healthier way.
I wrote another article about Mindful Parenting which teaches us to slow down a bit and be more sensitive and attuned to our children. With the everyday stress we all go through sometimes we might feel burdened or pressured to do everything for our children and family. With mindful parenting, the purpose is to create more harmony and reduce stress in the household which helps kids learn the value of patience.
Here are some steps to teach our children of being more mindful and to be in the moment:
FOCUS ON BREATHING – Spend 5 to 15 minutes a day practicing mindful breathing. Pay attention only to your breath and train yourself to focus on one thing that’s occurring in the present. Children who practice this will learn the importance of using breathing to manage strong emotions. Depending on the age, your child can start off focus breathing for a whole 30 seconds then gradually increase the time to a minute or more.
OBSERVE YOUR SURROUNDINGS – Take one time in your day to be fully present with yourself. Be mindful of the moment such as listening to your own tone of voice and seeing another person’s reaction. Being even slightly more mindful in such a moment—and less caught up in what you have to do next—can make a profound difference. This practice gives us a chance to get to know ourselves and the people around us better.
TAKE A BREAK – If you feel an upset coming on, take a moment to step back from the situation. Children should learn that if he/she is getting agitated to take 10 minutes to calm down and regroup after everyone is relaxed and more open to a productive conversation.
EAT TOGETHER – Practice mindful eating by discussing where the food comes from or eating slowly enough to notice the color, smell, and texture of your meal. Taking the time to appreciate your food leads to a healthier, more gratifying experience that brings the family together. It is also a way of slowing down and connecting as a family by taking the time to speak and truly listen to each other.
GIVE THANKS – When eating together, ask family members what they are thankful for. This brings focus to parents and their children on what is meaningful in their lives and what they appreciate in this world.
FORGIVE YOURSELF – Children aren’t perfect (even though we’d like them to be). They will at times get angry or impatient with everyone. But children can learn to be more mindful in the future of how they react to others and situations around them. When they can learn from that and see the actual conscious choices they make, they can make better and healthier decisions in the future.
So take some time to explain being in the moment to your children. And then practice this technique for yourself. At times I truly have to remind myself to take deep breaths and to calm down. It isn’t always easy to do one thing at a time but sometimes we need to in order to regroup and to rejuvenate our soul.