Mindfulness has grown in popularity in recent years, partly due to access to the internet, but mainly due to the need for it in the modern world. The world is full of stressful situations, so the more mindful we can be, the better we can handle it. Teaching mindfulness to children gives them a lifelong resource.
Mindfulness is all about noticing things. The things we notice can be inside or outside of us. Teaching adults to notice things and calm their minds is fairly straightforward, but children have more energy and can be distracted easily, so start by guiding their attention to their body sensations.
Remember, children might not have the vocabulary needed to describe their emotions or body sensations, but you can help them with this by giving them a set of cards to choose from. Ask your children to think about how they feel in different body areas and choose a suitable card.
Of course, breathing is a central aspect of mindfulness because it’s a central aspect of being alive. If you want to teach a group of children mindfulness, you will first have to draw attention to their breathing. So how can you do this?
The secret is to keep them engaged as much as possible. Mindfulness asks us to pay attention to one thing for a long time – in this case, the breath. Ask the children to put their hands on each other’s chest and count their partner’s breaths.
Stop and Listen
Stop and listen is a useful mindfulness practice for children and adults. For adults, it involves bringing our attention to the surroundings wherever we find ourselves, whether that’s the shopping centre, the cafe, or walking in the park.
Of course, this is not always practical when it comes to teaching children mindfulness, so how can you practice stopping and listening? One way is to ask them to walk in a circle and then shout stop. Each time they stop, they have to shout out what they can hear.
When children get to a certain age, they start to eat faster, it’s in our early nature to consume things quickly, and you can see this in their behaviour. However, mindfulness is about training ourselves to be more conscious of how we act in the world, and that includes how we eat things.
Snacking implies that the food is eaten quickly; after all, you have a snack on your break when there isn’t much time to consume it. Mindful snacking is a reverse practice in which children are asked to eat as slowly as they can. Their team is then rewarded for its slow, mindful eating.
Belly breathing is excellent for relaxation – also, every yogi in the world knows this – so teach the practice early, and the children will have an excellent resource to turn to throughout their lives. Place one hand on the chest and one on the belly. Inflate and deflate the belly like a balloon.
Mindfulness can be taught at home or in a learning environment. To get your child enrolled in a great day nursery or preschool in Eastleigh or Hedge End, get in touch with Little Acorns Day Nursery today.