CULTIVATING MINDFULNESS WITH YOUR CHILD
Mindfulness defined as a state of increased awareness can also be developed for children. Most of them have little control over their life as they need to go to school they may not like, interact with children who may bully them, do after school activities they did not necessarily choose, and follow rules they don’t always agree with. Overall, some children live a life that puts a lot of pressure on them. Recent studies show that teens are more stressed than adults. In order to alleviate the stress, mindfulness is a useful tool that parents can teach their children.
Mindfulness can reduce the risk of depression and anxiety, help children become more empathetic, increase children’s focus at school, and may even improve their health.
Here are a few mindfulness exercises for your children:
1. Practicing progressive muscle relaxation. Starting from the feet and moving up to the head, help your child contract and then loosen her muscles in her body. This exercise will help your child gain control over physical and emotional tension bringing thus more awareness of her body.
2. Observing and naming thoughts and emotions. For five minutes, ask your child to focus on herself so that she can notice each thought that crosses her mind and then let it go. Similarly, she can focus on her emotions and name them as she experiences them. Help your child slow her breathing at the same time.
3. Using your child’s senses. Ask your child to focus on one sense after the other one. The goal is to notice what is happening in the present moment. So, ask her to only listen to her environment, then to use exclusively her sense of smell, and then to solely observe what is around her.
4. Playing games and puzzles. Games that demand your child’s full attention are inherently mindful. Avoid online games and instead try challenging games such as puzzles, chess, or word games.
5. Creating a serene scene through visualization. Guide your child in creating a detailed mental image of an attractive and peaceful setting or environment. To create a such scene, your child needs to involve each of her 5 senses to ignite positive messages throughout the mind and the body.
Research has shown that mindfulness can strengthen a child’s emotion regulation skills, which includes awareness of their emotions and the ability to influence how they are experienced and expressed enabling them to relate positively with others.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.