Have you ever considered exploring mindfulness with your child? When a person is mindful, it essentially means that they are fully focussed on what’s happening within any given moment, including how they are feeling both physically and emotionally.
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It’s so easy for our minds to stray and start worrying about an upcoming exam or meeting or overthinking something we said to someone a week ago. Practising mindfulness can ease this anxiety and help us appreciate the present, even if its something as simple as eating a tasty snack or hugging a loved one.
As a parent, there are lots of ways you can encourage your child to be more mindful, as discussed below by an independent school in Buckinghamshire. However, it’s important to note that the word “mindfulness” can seem quite overwhelming to a little person, so you’re probably better off using words like thoughts, feelings, sensations. Help them become more in tune with their minds and bodies, and how they react to certain situations both physically and mentally.
Exploring mindfulness with your child – Mindful walking
Walking through nature is a great opportunity to practise mindfulness with your child, and when teamed with the exercise and fresh air, it makes for a very beneficial activity for both mental and physical health. Ask your child to focus on what they can feel, such as the soft breeze on their skin or the crunching leaves beneath their feet. Then ask them what they can hear, like a dog barking in the distance or some birds tweeting. Work your way through each of the senses to help your child fully focus on the experience, rather than worrying about schoolwork or friendship problems.
If you can see that your child is becoming overly emotional about something, encourage them to practise mindful breathing. Ask them to lay down comfortably and rest a hand on their chest or stomach. Then tell them to take deep breaths, noticing the rise and fall of their body each time. This should help calm them down when they’re upset or frustrated and remind them that they are safe and secure in that moment.
Mindful eating is a good way to explore mindfulness with your child
Next time you sit down for a family meal, ask your child to truly think about the food. What does it taste like? What is the texture like? Is it hot or cold? Too many of us are guilty of scoffing down a meal so that we can return to the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but by truly recognising the experience of eating a meal will help you appreciate what’s in front of you in that very moment. This is a much healthier way to eat, and your child may even learn to stop when they’re full rather than overeating without even realising.
Practising mindfulness is especially beneficial for children who struggle to fall asleep at night. When they’re in bed with their eyes closed, ask them to consider how each part of their body feels against the sheets and mattress, from the top of their head to the tips of their toes. This should help them relax and eventually doze off.
These are just four opportunities to practise mindfulness, but it’s actually available to us 24/7. It’s all about pausing to acknowledge the present. It might sound trivial to stop and acknowledge the taste of the apple you’re eating but doing so can help reduce needless stress and unease. Even when trying to be mindful, our thoughts can still wander, but the trick is to keep returning to the present and let those thoughts pass by without judgement. Try and practise regularly with your child until it becomes a habit that they do naturally.
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