Teaching mindfulness to kids has a lot to do with staying out of nature’s way. Children have the innate ability to live in the present moment. They’re aware of what’s going on in their bodies and express their needs freely. They let go easily, they cry when they’re hurt and they can laugh the very next moment when they’re not feeling the pain anymore. The simplest objects can capture their attention for a long time.
As they grow, they learn to dwell on the past, worry about the future and keep their minds busy with outside distractions like we do. To some extent this is inevitable – no one is mindful all the time. But we can make sure that our kids can call on their mindfulness skills when they need them, and here are some ways to do it.
Share your own mindfulness practice with your kids
To teach your kids about mindfulness, first you must practice it yourself. You can choose something easy to share with your kids like a 5-minute meditation, or a mindfulness walk where you guide them to notice the feelings in their bodies and what is happening around them in the present moment.
Even if they just see you doing it, they’re likely to join in. I was struggling to find alone time for my daily meditation during the school holidays. So, I’d announce that I was going to meditate and the kids were not to disturb me, and I’d get on with it. More often than not, when I was finished, I’d find little people sitting next to me quietly with their eyes closed.
Gratitude is a perfect and easy way to notice and appreciate things that are right here and now. You can make it a formal practice at the same time every day (for example, before bed), or you can share things that you’re grateful for throughout the day and ask your children to do the same. It’s easy to turn it into a game, and the kids will quickly begin to notice more of the world around them and how it enriches their lives.
Use simple mindfulness activities
Ask your children to tune into their emotions and tell you how they’re feeling. Or listen to a piece of music together, focusing just on the music. Put on some guided mediations for kids (try the Smiling Mind app).
Teaching mindfulness to kids doesn’t have to take time out of your day. Each one of your daily activities can be turned into a mindfulness practice if you remember to focus on the present moment only, and invite your children to do the same.
Image via Pixabay