Alot of people have heard of the word mindfulness but don’t really understand what it means, it often gets a bad rep and is labelled a ‘trend’, ‘fad’ or ‘fluffy’. The main comments I hear are ‘how can it help’ and ‘doesn’t it just mean meditating’
Jon Kabat-Zinn the creator of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programs describes mindfulness as ‘paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally’ So paying attention, right now and not judging what we see or hear either in ourselves or others. Simple right?
Although it doesn’t sound to complicated the reality is our lives are busy, we are constantly being fed information which is making our internal systems go at full speed. We generally eat, cook, drive, clean, work on auto-pilot, which sometimes is essential as our brains don’t have the capacity to focus on every single task all the time.
However when we do pay attention to our actions, our thoughts and our senses for even just a short amount of time per day we are suddenly able to acknowledge our feelings, describe them and the sensations they are creating in the body and even better we can actually overcome emotions. That is the superpower behind mindfulness, being aware of feelings but also knowing they are just visitors and they aren’t staying for long.
That is why teaching mindfulness techniques to your children early in life will really help them flourish and thrive in this world. The concepts and activities will help calm the constant thoughts in their heads and will help them learn how to feel and understand emotions. Imagine if all the children understood anger and displayed empathy to themselves and others?
In our classes we use a variety of mindfulness methods, incorporating the Relax Kids 7 step programme with creative mindfulness arts and craft ideas. The classes take children from a high energy to a state of calm, encouraging and discussing how to form skills such as improving self – esteem, handling difficult emotions, effective calming strategies, improving concentration, understanding empathy for others and themselves therefore removing judgement and labels such as ‘good or bad’. They don’t need to be tied down to a bad grade and get lost in a spiral of blame; they can understand that the one brad grade doesn’t define them.
Simple mindfulness activities can be added into your daily routine right now and you’ll see for yourself how being present while having conversations with your child can build such a powerful connection and change.
Give these a go:
Using your 5 sense on a walk, asking questions such as:
What can you see?
What can you hear?
What can you feel?
What can you taste?
What can you smell?
This is an amazing grounding activity and really encourages curiosity. It can also be used when your child might be feeling overwhelm or nerves, a simple exercise like this, using the sense can help them re-focus on the moment.
Using a feeling thermometer (see my resources for a free prinatable). It’s a love lt visual that children can use daily or weekly to develop their emotional literacy, as a family you can help your child recognise and understand their feelings and how It’s associated with a physically feeling in the body. (Nerves are butterflies in the tummy, excitement is increased heartrate)
You can also then discuss different ways they can face these feelings and how you can help them or they can help themselves in those moments..
A favourite for me is creating a gratitude list. At the end of each night have a small conversation and each name 3 things that you are grateful for. This really reminds of a the good that we see in our life everyday but all offers a gentle reminder of the important of being kind to ourselves and to appreciate others and notice their kind actions.
I really hope you’ll find some of these useful and enjoy coming on this mindfulness journey with us. Mindfulness is not the answer to all the challenges children will face but it does help build resilience when they have to deal with those challenges and gives them the self-belief that sometimes we all need.