Teaching mindfulness to children helps equip them with the necessary skills to manage stress and cope well with challenging situations. It’s essentially a meditation technique that encourages a person to draw their attention to the present moment, like what they can hear, see, feel or just something they notice. This is great for creating a sense of inner calm because it stops a person from fretting about things out of their control. I have teamed up with a prep school in Notting Hill to share some tips on exploring mindfulness with your child.
Practise Makes Perfect
Start with an informal technique that you can do all together as a family. Find a comfortable place to sit, close your eyes, and think about someone you love and admire, who loves you back. Consider how you feel when you think of this person and silently send them some well wishes. Repeat the process with another person you care about, and then again with someone you don’t know as well, such as the postman or a neighbour. Finally, bring to mind someone who has upset you recently, or made you feel frustrated in some way, and send them a kind wish as well. This is the last step in the process – you can all open your eyes.
You should also help your child tune into mindfulness more directly. At bedtime, get them to lay down comfortably in their bed, close their eyes and focus on each of their body parts one by one. How does their head feel against the pillow? How does the duvet feel against their body? This technique is particularly beneficial for children who struggle to get to sleep at night, because it prevents their mind from wandering and they should be thinking only of their position in bed.
Mindfulness is also a great strategy when your child is feeling upset or angry about something. Perhaps they’re struggling with their homework and showing visible signs of frustration. Encourage them to move away from the homework and find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Ask them to close their eyes and take slow, deep breaths. They should place a hand on their belly and notice how it rises and falls with each breath. This should help calm them down and bring them back to the present moment, which really isn’t as bad as it may have felt.
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