Mindfulness For Kids Is More Important Than Ever
Being a kid in 2021 definitely comes with some future bragging rights, but in the moment – it can feel scary, hard and sometimes even unfair. In this article, we look at the importance of mindfulness as well as five ways you can help your child practice it.
When I was helping my son get out of the car this morning for preschool, I noticed that he had a toy in his pocket. I explained that he couldn’t take it inside. When he asked why, I responded, “Because of the virus.”
Satisfied with my reasoning, my son placed the toy on his car seat, threw his backpack on and rushed excitedly into school.
As I drove home, I couldn’t help but think how wild and surreal it is that, “Because of the virus” is something that parents say and children understand now.
While I have been enormously impressed with how the children in my community have adapted to the tidal wave that is 2020, I’m keenly aware that it’s more important than ever to talk to our kids about mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Put simply – mindfulness is being aware of your feelings and thoughts so that you can take time to either self-soothe, self-regulate or form a logical and less reactive response to something or someone.
Why is mindfulness important for kids?
One of my favorite things my mom used to say to me was: “You’re not responsible for your thoughts, only what you do with them.” I’m not sure who the owner of that quote is, but it’s something that has always stuck with me.
Kids today will be facing the repercussions of the pandemic for a very long time. While for some that might mean attending school via Zoom and adjusting to #MaskLife, for others it means being separated from family members, possibly losing a loved one and dealing with the fear of potentially getting sick. Couple that with not getting social stimulation, and you can see how it would be easy for a child to spiral in such an unprecedented time.
By teaching our children how to recognize and name their feelings, take time to find the calm within and form connections between their minds and bodies, they’ll have a much better chance of coping with the daily challenges of COVID-19 (and just being a kid in general!)
How can I help my child practice mindfulness?
Below are 5 ways you can help your child practice mindfulness!
#1 Do a twice daily check in.
While daily routines may vary and can feel jam packed, I love checking in with my kids on the way to school and at night after bath.
Try asking questions like: Is there anything you’re worried about today? How do you feel about your spelling test? Is there anyone you’d like to talk to? In the evening, you can prompt for self-reflection with questions like: What was one thing that had you laughing today? Did anything happen that made you feel sad? Did you do anything you’re especially proud of today?
You can take this further by asking if they wished their day had gone differently. If they answer, ‘yes,’ point out ways they could have made it feel better.
#2 Teach your child about meditation.
I’m the first to admit that meditating is one of the hardest things to do on the planet! Quiet the mind? Get in tune with my body? Might as well try to climb Everest! With that being said, it’s a daily practice that can be incredibly beneficial to your mental health so it’s worth giving it a go.
When it comes to helping kids learn to meditate, try doing it next to them. Sitting cross legged or while lying on your backs with your eyes shut down – start with small stretches of time such as 1 minute. Try working your way up to 15 minutes. If your child complains about having too many thoughts or tries to get up to do something, explain that they should acknowledge the thought or urge and then visually put it in a box in their mind for later.
You can find incredible guided meditations via apps like Glo. Specifically designed for children, these meditations can help them get in tune with their bodies, help them calm down when anxious and even prepare them for sleep.
#3 Encourage yoga.
Since we all know how wriggly kids are, yoga can be a fun way for them to move, while simultaneously gaining more control of their bodies. We love the yoga flash cards from Mindful & Co Kids because the eye-catching illustrations perfectly depict how to do the pose, while teaching kids the proper names of each.
#4 Choose games that allow your child to play independently and quietly.
Activities like memory games and puzzles can be a great way for kids to shut down the daily chatter in their minds and focus on a task. Beneficial for their cognitive development, the Mindful & Co Kids Yoga Memory Game will help your child learn to think critically and problem-solve while building their confidence (and teaching them about yoga!)
#5 Encourage journaling.
This may be difficult if your child isn’t writing independently yet, but my kids love to sit quietly and write or color. Even if your child can’t write their thoughts or feelings, you could prompt them to draw how they feel. It could be through abstract shapes, a choice of color or an out-right illustration. It’s the act of taking the time to be still, think and process that will help them maintain their resiliency.