Imagine having a child that is learning to be more mindful of others, at one with their natural environment and able to calm and regulate their emotions? This is just some of the benefits of teaching your child about mindfulness. If you’re not sure what mindfulness is about, you can get a quick induction by reading my previous post ‘Are you a mindful parent?’. Now we can apply this to children.
Children are more in touch with their senses than us adults are. They use these to learn from their world whilst us grown ups are busy thinking, thinking, thinking, but not necessarily feeling. Without realising, our children might be a step further along their mindfulness practice than we are. They just need us to guide them. And this is why it is important to have a think about how mindful you are and start to become a role model of this.
The following list of activities is just a small start to get you thinking about the types of situations that are ideal for encouraging mindfulness with your children.
- Eat outside. This can be any meal or snack of the day. Breakfast outside? Why not. After school snack outside? Why not. Eating itself is a great mindfulness activity. Talk about the foods you are eating, the colours, the textures, the smell and even the sounds while you are crunching capsicum or snapping beans. By eating outside, you can help your children to take in the sights, sounds and smells around them.
- Have a sing-a-long or blow some bubbles. Singing and bubble blowing (letting the kids blow, that is!) involves using diaphragmatic breathing. This encourages relaxation straight away, not to mention focussing on an engaging task.
- Practice kids yoga. The ultimate in breathing, body awareness, relaxation and enjoying the outdoors! ‘Let the children show you how yoga is done’ gives you a run-down of how to get started.
- Get the kids washing each other’s hair! Receiving a massage from a sibling is a great mindful activity. Using a shampoo with essential oils also makes this an enticing olfactory exercise too.
- Read books that focus on the child or their body. ‘From Head to Toe’ by Eric Carle encourages your child to do animal actions. ‘I Grow in Grandad’s Garden’ by Brian Andrew is a wonderful aide to help your child talk about their worries, feelings, dreams and gratitude.
- Take the time to appreciate life and each other. This could be as simple as encouraging the kids to thank the earth and farmers for the veggies they are eating, imagining how empty life would be without each other and appreciating the small actions of love they have received that day (for example, another child sharing with them, a sibling singing them a song or a hug from Daddy).
- Study nature together. Whether it’s talking about the weather, noticing the shapes of leaves or checking out the stars, this helps your child to look past their worries and to use their senses.
As you can see, these ideas are mostly activities that involve being outdoors (and taking conscious note of it), using the senses (and taking conscious note of it) or requiring children to move their bodies (and taking conscious note of it!). This all helps your child to achieve more mindfulness. And hopefully inspires you too!
What ideas can you come up with?
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