Ways to Talk About Mindfulness with Kids
Children of all ages can benefit from mindfulness, and their caregivers and parents can too.
Don’t panic; I’m not going to tell you to book you and your child into a 10-day silent retreat (albeit, that may sound a little blissful to some). We don’t expect kids to run before they can crawl, and the same goes for mindfulness.
Mindfulness doesn’t need to cost a cent or take up a lot of time during the day. Mindfulness is about taking simple steps every day to be more aware and present in a non-judgemental way. A little bit of mindfulness can go a long way. It’s time to forget what you’ve heard about multitasking; mindfulness is all about single-tasking!
Benefits of mindfulness
Mindfulness enables children to be aware of their expectations and recognise that their thoughts are just thoughts. Mindfulness can promote happiness, improve concentration, manage emotions and relieve stress.1
How to teach kids mindfulness
The best way to teach is to embody it yourself. You must establish your relationship with mindfulness to inspire your kids to do the same. You can start slowly with simple techniques such as:
- Incorporating a 5-10-minute guided meditation practice on an app or on YouTube
- Truly listening when others are talking. Whether it’s your partner, kids, family, friends or colleagues, being intensely present when conversing with people doesn’t go unnoticed. It’s the perfect way to help you stay in the moment, and it’s one that you can practice every day. The best way to do this is to put your phone down, don’t think about your reply while they’re talking and just listen to what they have to say.
Mindfulness tools for kids
Below are some tools you can take on with your kids to teach them about mindfulness:
- Mindful walks with kids can be the perfect first step. Walk silently for a few moments, and then start to point out one thing that you can see, one thing that you can hear and one thing that you can feel. For example, you can see the trees, you can listen to the wind, and you can feel leaves crunching beneath your feet. It’s a beautiful way to tap into the senses and can feel like a fun game!
- Promote activities that require absolute focus, such as making art, using a mindful colouring-in book, writing stories or poems, reading a book, playing cards or board games, or even having conversations without phones on the table.
- This one can be a toughie for children and child-like adults alike – mindful eating! Grab one piece of your favourite chocolate and use your senses (minus taste), to explore and discover it in a whole new way. Put your timer on for 10 minutes. Look at the chocolate and observe the indentations and curves. Smell the chocolate and notice the different aromas that arise. Feel the chocolate between your fingers slowly melt. When the timer goes off, don’t rush into eating it! Eat it slowly and savour every bite with a new-found appreciation of chocolatey goodness.
- A gratitude practice at dinner is a fun one that involves the whole family. Go around the table and say one thing you’re grateful for that day or a highlight of the day. This positive thinking can shift our thinking and help us notice the positives in our lives. It also heightens our awareness throughout the day, especially if you must bring something new to the table every night!
Instilling mindfulness at an early age is a beautiful way to set up a healthy habit for the rest of their lives. While you don’t have to do everything on this list, pick the one that you and your child resonate with and try it out every day for one week. You’ll notice the results!
1Zelazo, Phillip D., Lyons, K., 2012, “The Potential Benefits of Mindfulness Training in Early Childhood: A Developmental Social Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective”, Child Development Perspectives Vol 6 pp. 154-160