Mindfulness is the idea of learning how to be fully present and engaged in the moment, aware of your thoughts and feelings without distraction or judgement. It is a powerful practice which can empower us to change our self-talk and grow our confidence. We know how important mindfulness is to ourselves, as adults it can allow us to be more present in our parenting, but it’s also an important practice for children too.
Teaching mindfulness to children gives them the skills to develop the awareness of their inner and outer experiences, to understand how emotions manifest, and to recognise when their attention or focus has wandered, and ultimately provide the tools needed to regain control.
Living your life mindfully helps you to see the bigger picture. So often we are moving so fast and not taking a moment to ourselves. We miss important things in life, like experiences, thoughts and feelings. We lose track of time and before long, we are living our lives on autopilot. Mindfulness can help children to improve their abilities to pay attention, to calm down when they are upset and to make better decisions.
We know that the practices we hold, the habits we keep and the knowledge we obtain all contribute towards living our life mindfully. How can we teach these important skills to our children?
Practice mindfulness yourself
First, establish your own mindfulness practice. To authentically teach mindfulness to your children, you need to practice it yourself. I dive deeper into how to live more mindfully here. Once you establish how to connect to yourself more, you’ll find it easier to practice different mindfulness techniques with your child to help bring them back to a place of calm, focus and clarity.
Keep it simple
Mindfulness can be a big word for young kids to understand. Break it down to simple terms - mindfulness is awareness. It is noticing our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and anything that is around us and happening right now.
Reflect and journal
Allow your little one to jot down their feelings, mindset, or thoughts. Whether it’s words, scribbles, doodles, or quotes, take what is jumbled up inside and get it out on a sheet of paper. This often leads to receiving clarity and refreshes the mind.
Enjoy complete stillness
Try spending at least 5-10 minutes a day of personal reflection with your child. A great way to do this is picking a quiet spot, closing your eyes, breathing deeply and connecting within yourselves. This may be slightly difficult asking your child to be still for longer than a minute, but try asking them to focus on all they can smell, taste, and hear in the present moment.
Gratitude is a fundamental component of mindfulness, teaching our children to appreciate the abundance in their lives, as opposed to focusing on all the toys and treats that they crave. Try doing this at dinnertime each day, asking your kids what the 3 best things about their day were or what made them smile the most throughout the day.
Repeat positive affirmations
Affirmations are a direct line between you and your subconscious. They remind you of who you are, what you want, and that you have the power to create it. Teaching kids the power of their inner voice and the effect of positive thinking is incredibly important for the development of their confidence, health and actions. By beginning to think more positively, kids can learn to believe in themselves and work towards their individual potentials. Words have an incredible ability to build people up—especially little ones. Affirmations can help young children feel confident and cultivate a positive self-image. They are also a way to help them cope when they’re feeling upset, scared or overwhelmed, reminding them of their strengths and abilities. To help your child get the most from these positive affirmations, have them practice the phrases during a neutral time when they seem calm and receptive. Pick a few go-to phrases and stick with them (we all know kids thrive on repetition) and get in the habit of saying them regularly. I’ve compiled 20 positive affirmations that your child can repeat to themselves daily to help their confidence and self-esteem flourish - find them here.
Encourage them to be their own cheerleader
It can be tempting to turn to others when our self-confidence needs a boost and seek compliments, but it’s important to teach kids that they are worthy and they need to believe this in themselves first and foremost. Encourage your child to write down their qualities and as many good things about themselves as they can think of - from thoughtful things they’ve done for others to aspects they love about their personality. If they struggle finding the words, this is the perfect opportunity for you to help and share your child’s positive attributes. Don’t be shy or hold back! Let them declare it wildly and believe it just as fiercely.
As you can see, living a life guided by mindfulness is a life full of growth for both parent and child. Daily practices together build deeper connections and allow you to help guide their life to where they want it to be. Not only that, but it results in you living a more fulfilled, happier life. Encourage them to decide for themselves how they wish to live mindfully and practice this every day.