Sunday Snippet: Developing a Habit of Mindfulness
As parents, we cannot control our child’s every move, but we can help them become mindful with their daily endeavors. It is crucial to teach your child the importance of mindfulness at a young age so she may begin to implement it in all aspects of her life, whether it be when she is alone or with friends. Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman explain just how to start your child’s journey to mindfulness in their article Developing a Habit of Mindfulness Can Boost Kids, check it out below.
Encouraging children to develop a habit of mindfulness can have big payoffs for school, home and social environments.
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the here and now. It is an active awareness of thoughts, emotions and sensory perceptions (what you are currently hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and feeling).
Mindfulness helps people choose a careful response in a situation rather than react with knee-jerk emotion. New research shows that training children in the practice of mindfulness can help boost their attention skills, learn how to regulate their emotions, increase compassion, reduce stress and improve anxiety in tense social situations.
Two exercises that parents can use to teach kids how to practice mindfulness are the Spider Man exercise and Mindful Eating. For the first, you will need a bell, flower and small piece of food. Spider Man had super senses and, in this exercise, kids learn how to amplify their senses.
Start by having kids sit in a comfortable position with their hands rested on their thighs. First, ring a bell and ask kids to listen carefully to the tone until they can no longer hear the sound. Repeat this exercise a few times.
Next, give the child the flower, and ask him to look carefully at it when you ring the bell. Tell him to look closely at the lines and shapes in the flower, the colors, the textures. Then tell him to smell the flower when you ring the bell again, breathing in deeply and paying careful attention to the scent. Next, have him touch the flower when you ring the bell, and pay attention to all of the different textures that he senses.
Last, give the child a small piece of food, such as a berry, raisin or piece of cereal and ask him to taste it when you ring the bell. Ask him to chew it slowly, paying attention to how it feels in his mouth and how it tastes.
The Mindful Eating exercise is similar. For this one, give the child a Hershey Kiss. Start by coaching him to look at it carefully. Then have him slowly unwrap it. What sounds does it make as he unwraps it? How does it feel in his fingers?
Then have him place it in his mouth but instruct him not to chew it. He should simply allow the chocolate to rest on his tongue for a while as he pays attention to how it feels and tastes. Can he smell the chocolate? Does he feel it melting? Eventually, he can slowly chew it, paying attention to all of his senses in the process. If his mind wanders, tell him to notice the thoughts and allow them to quietly pass through as he focuses again on the chocolate.
Once kids have had a few chances to do these kind of exercises, you can encourage them to be mindful when they brush their teeth, make their beds or take a shower. Over time, it can become a healthy habit for the mind.