No matter how old your child is, it is important to teach them to cultivate positive mental health habits that lead to emotional well-being.
Mindfulness is one of these practices that has been proven to help children manage their emotions, reduce stress and increase focus.
It is the practice of bringing attention to the present moment and focusing on what is going on rather than thinking about the past or the future.
Mindfulness does not need any special equipment and can be done anywhere and at any time. It involves bringing attention and focusing on something internal like breath, bodily sensations or emotions. Attention can also be brought to something around you, like sounds, sights, smells or sensations.
1. Explain the process to them in simple terms. Let them know that there’s no specific goal to achieve and there isn’t a right or wrong way to do it.
2. Highlight the many benefits and give them examples of when and how they can do it. E.g. during meals, before homework, when outdoors, during stressful times etc.
3. Start by teaching them the basics of sitting down and focusing on their breath for a few minutes. Regularly practice alongside them and to stick to short time periods of a few minutes in the beginning.
4. Once they have grasped the basics, you can guide their focus to something external. This is best done outdoors, preferably in nature, as part of a ‘mindfulness walk’.
5. Practice together and encourage them to observe the present moment and keep returning to it. You can talk to them after about what they observed and how they felt.
6. Find creative ways to cultivate present state awareness by doing activities they will love. Some examples include coloring books, listening to calm music, looking closely at leaves, flowers or clouds, gardening, etc.
Growing evidence reveals that a mindfulness practice can become a valuable tool that helps with learning, confidence, compassion and resilience throughout their life.
Our guide outlines the facts based on research from several online and offline resources. If you are in doubt or worried about your child for any reason, consult with a qualified and certified mental health professional or medical doctor.