Most people idealize childhood, but children have challenges just like adults. Children tend to deal with many problems that involve having to adopt to a class or school environment they may not like, adhering to rules that they find limiting, or even being in a classroom with kids who bully them. There’s also the pressure to do well in school and cope with siblings and parents. These issues can make a child feel anxious and stressed. Teaching kids how to practice mindfulness is highly important and it can help to manage and reduce stress levels.
In this article, you are going to gain insights on what is mindfulness, how mindfulness helps children, and most importantly how to make it fun and memorable.
What is Mindfulness for kids?
Mindfulness is a process of bringing our attention to experiences occurring in the present moment. Through meditation and mindfulness exercises, awareness can be developed of the here and now, rather than dwelling in the past or projecting into the future. It can help kids handle negative thoughts, stressful events and deal with pressure or distractions. What’s more mindfulness exercise and meditation for kids are simple and fun.
How Mindfulness Helps Children
Improves social skills
Mindfulness has been shown to help children acquire suitable social behaviors. It helps them to socialise well with others, control their emotions, be optimistic, less aggressive and develop empathy. In other words, it can help teach children compassion.
Improves school performance
Research shows that students who practice meditation for at least 20 minutes a day tend to improve their cognitive skills. Mindfulness exercises help children to pay attention in class and improve their focus during exams, which tends to improve their grades. In addition, mindfulness courses have also been shown to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and to maintain focus during boring and repetitive tasks. Meditation exercises also help to boost happiness among school-going children because they help them to develop good behavior and to be more compassionate.
Mindfulness has been shown to calm down the nervous system and reduce levels of stress. In addition, mindfulness exercises help children to calm down when they are annoyed or when they feel like they do not have control over what is happening to them. They learn how to cope with overpowering emotions calmly.
It helps kids with ADHD
Mindfulness is all about maintaining focused awareness in the here and now, and it has been shown to improve attention and focus for kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In addition, mindulness based cognitive therapy has especially been shown to reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity, which enables children with ADHD to act with awareness. As a result, symptoms of inattention also reduce.
When practiced before bed, mindfulness meditation has been shown to have an effect on children’s ability to fall asleep. Meditation tends to calm a kid’s mind, which helps to distract restless thoughts. In other words, bedtime meditation helps children to relax and sleep better, which helps to improve their concentration and creativity.
Improves decision making skills
Mindfulness exercises can teach children to make responsible decisions and constructive choices regarding their social and personal behaviors, which tends to improve discipline.
It increases self awareness
Mindful meditation enables children to recognize their weaknesses, strengths, passion, values and emotions.
Making Mindfulness Fun and Memorable
When taking children through mindfulness exercises, it is important to avoid being strict or inflexible. In other words, it is important to ensure that kids are having fun as they practice. So how can you make it fun for children?
Children do not like sitting in one place. Therefore, you may want to engage your child in walking meditation, which is a good way of helping your child to tune in to his or her mind and body. Walking helps to soothe and quiet the mind. A simple way to practice walking meditation is to have your child balance a book on their head and then walk very slowly with intention. You can also ask them to count their slow steps as they walk. Perhaps add a melodic song to the steps to really grab their attention. Kids love games and singing.
Visualization is a powerful form of meditation that can help children to be in tune with their body. What’s more, visualization or body scanning enables children to analyze all aspects of their body and mind, thus becoming more aware of their body, thoughts and feelings. Kids should be taught how to mindfully scan their bodies from head to toe. For instance, you can have your child visualize him or herself relaxing on a beach whilst watching the ocean or you can have your child imagine walking in a park.
Singing or chanting mantras
Another way of engaging your child in meditation is through repetitive mantras or singing simple songs. Such a meditation exercise not only helps a child enjoy the meditation session, but it creates a strong bond between you and your child.
Painting and drawing
This exercise is a fun way of helping children to express themselves without been judged. It is a mindfulness exercise that enables a child to share whatever they want regarding their colorful drawing or painting.
The above benefits have been used to create the book series, which includes, “The Muddy Road”, “The Dog Who Chased His Tail”, and the “Wild Horse”.