When we begin to share mindfulness with kids, the first big question is often, “How do I get them interested?” How can we make mindfulness fun and accessible to young kids and relevant for older kids? Even when they don’t give us a skeptical look, kids come with a range of backgrounds, attention spans, learning styles, and interests.
Prevent trouble before it arises. Put things in order before they exist.Lao-Tzu, in “A thousands Names for Joy” by Byron Katie and Stephen Mitchell
Introducing mindfulness into the lives of our children and teenagers is perhaps the greatest gift we can offer. Mindfulness builds emotional intelligence, boosts happiness, increases curiosity and engagement, reduces anxiety and depression, soothes the pain of trauma, and helps kids (and adults) focus, learn, and make better choices.
If that wasn’t enough, research now shows that mindfulness significantly enhances what psychologists call flourishing -the opposite of depression and avoidance. “Growing Up Mindful” – helps parents, educators, and counsellors learn how to embody and share the skills of mindfulness that will empower our children with resilience throughout their lives.
With more than 75 accessible exercises and practices, along with adaptations for the individual needs of a wide range of children and teens, this inspiring guidebook brings you road-tested insights and tools for:
- Tapping the power of the imagination, play, and creativity.
- Body-based mindfulness and movement practices.
- Creatively overcoming resistance and gaining kids’ buy-in.
- The mindful use of technology and social media.
- Building the foundation through your own personal practice.
- Attending and Befriending -are two positive responses to stress.
- Setting intentions and managing expectations of new practitioners.
Sharing mindfulness in a formal setting including schools and workplaces. Extending our practice into the larger communities we share Seeds of mindfulness can be planted in anyone at any time-seeds that under the right conditions can burst and bloom into a life of compassion and connection, writes Dr. Willard. Growing Up Mindful invites you to embark on something incredible and world-changing as you join the growing community of adults bringing wonder, curiosity, and reflection back into childhood and adolescence.
Slowing down our minds (We are “mind full” instead of mindful)
Mindfulness practices provide counterbalances to our busy world, because encourage us to slow down, stop the rush, be instead of do, experience instead of think. For kids, the brain relaxes not only during mindfulness practices but also in:
- free play
- nap time / daydreaming
- doodling / drawing
- exploring the world around them, spending time with nature.
Young people are falling into the busyness trap. They are frequently overbooked, distracted, constantly with new technology devices bombarding them with new things to do, to watch, to listen. Staying busy became an obsession, before even they become adults. That’s why, it is so important to learn how to slow down and manage their responses to stress.
Introducing Mindfulness to kids
Step1: Take Time to Prepare the Soil
Ensure that you have a good relationship with them. When kids trust and connect with you, in general, and in the moment, they are more likely to give the whole mindfulness thing a try. If you meet any resistance slow down. That good relationship is a key and you do so by emerging out of your own mindfulness and compassion. Your relationship with your child is more important than any mindfulness.
Step2: Assess What you Can – and Cannot – Change
Set and know your intentions. Usually, parents have an underlying agenda – like behavior changes that you want to see. Yet offering mindfulness with the agenda of change sends a message to kids that they are broken and in need of fixing. The thing is you can’t change the kids, you may only change your approach and how you relate with them. You may encourage change in their environment and create the conditions under which that positive change you are seeking is likely to occur.
Step3: Consider Your Kids
Think about their personalities, and interests. A kid who loves sports might be motivated to learn mindfulness if she can do so by exploring movement or body-based exercises. Kids who love art could start with mindful drawing, sculpting, and observation activities.
Step 4: Bring it in and Generate Buy-in
Only you know what will catch your kids’ attention. Tailoring the pitch to them will inspire and make mindfulness more appealing. Here are some tips that you could try:
- Tap into their desires, and show them how it helps to achieve what they want
- Identify role models
- Pique their curiosity
- Discuss stress and its effects
- Enlist the help of other kids
- Emphasize freedom
- Ask them to join you in your practice
- Do informal practices with them
- Be honest and realistic
More information in the book. Highly recommended.
See also Mindfulness for children Part 1