We know that mindfulness is the ability to be fully present, aware of what is going on, both inside and outside ourselves.

It helps us to self-regulate, make decisions off autopilot (conditioned responses), and not be reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

It’s truly wonderful for us as adults – and can you imagine the implications of raising mindful children?

Mindfulness is fast becoming the way forward as the perfect antidote to exam stress, attention disorders, childhood anxiety issues and self esteem.

Mindful children are able to self-soothe when they are upset, and to make better choices.

It’s suggested that Mindful children begin their practice at a young age, but it’s never too late to start.

Before we can begin to teach this invaluable gift to the next generation, we must first establish our own practice: the easiest way to do this is to have a formal meditation practice that helps us tune in to our inner world at any time during the day.

mindfulness mindful children

This requires:

  • Paying attention to experiences through our senses and thoughts.
  • Non-judgment (not labeling thoughts, feelings and situations as “bad” or “good”) and acceptance of “what is”.
  • Calmness in our minds and hearts.
  • No need of having to control outcomes.

The most important part of raising mindful children is to have realistic expectations. It may come as no surprise to that children are often much more mindful than adults, but at the same time, they are also learning to navigate the world. Don’t expect to use meditation as a “cure” for tantrums or to make a highly active child sit quietly all day at school.

The main purpose is to give them skills to be aware that their thoughts are just thoughts.

Teaching our children to understand that emotions come and go is vital. They will learn that they do not have to be ruled by their thoughts or emotions.

What a perfect foundation for the rest of the their lives.

The Dalai Lama himself states:

“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”

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Suggestions for raising Happy and Mindful Children:

1. Start with a regularly scheduled mindfulness practice. We are creatures of habit, and a “Mindfulness Minute” or whatever you want to call it, can be practiced once or several times a day. Teachers can use mindfulness to help children calm down after recess and parents can use mindfulness as a wonderful way to end the day with their children.

2. Practice mindfulness anywhere, but at home (or class) it’s nice to have a special place; creating a soothing environment helps active kids settle down and relax for a few minutes.

3. Start with sharing a story when you used mindfulness to deal with a difficult situation so they can learn… and have them share their stories.

4. Ask them to sit cross-legged and tall, with their eyes closed.

5. Try introducing an exercise, explaining what’s to be expected. For example, say to the children, “I will make a sound. Listen very carefully until you can’t hear the sound anymore and raise your hand when you can’t hear it anymore.” Use a small bell, a singing bowl or an app on your phone with sounds on it.

6. Ask the children to move their hand to their stomach and feel their breathing as their abdomen moves up and down. Have them feel their breath for about 30-60 seconds.

7. Tell them, “Listen very carefully to the bell, until you can’t hear the sound anymore.”

And that’s it! The whole practice repeated  just a few times, takes no more than 2-3 minutes.

mindful children

There are other things you can do throughout the day to raise mindful children:

1. Ask children to identify as many sounds as possible in their environment.

2. Ask them to give you a “personal weather report” where they describe their feelings; this is a wonderful exercise that teaches kids that emotions come and go, just like the weather changes. They also learn to recognize that they are not the storm, but that they are watching the storm.

3. Practice mindful eating. Have them take one bite of something, and describe everything about it: texture, taste, temperature, etc.

4. Play “I Spy.” “I spy, with my little eye, a (something).” Kids love this game! You can modify this to include “I hear with my little ear…” or “I smell with my little nose…”

Above all, keep it fun and simple. There are endless opportunities to be mindful – and it’s a wonderful way to connect with your kids while teaching them a valuable life skill!

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