Almost everywhere we turn on social media we are being encouraged and reminded of the importance mindfulness. Mindfulness is not just the latest buzz and most certainly is not a mere trend. Mindfulness has been around for a very long time and I believe it has become impossible to ignore the research that continues to show and share the benefits that can improve our wellbeing in all areas of lives; classrooms, businesses, corporations and families.
In this blog I share one very basic, simple and effective way to teach your child or the children in your life to practice mindfulness.
Firstly a little Mindfulness 101
Mindfulness is a sure way to thrive and has been described as being fully aware of the present moment. The dictionary tells us it is ‘the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something’.
Keeping it nice and simple, mindfulness is our ability to notice what is happening within us and around us, without judgement. Mindfulness helps us to not jump forward into the future with the worry of ‘what if’ or constantly lament or revisit the past with ‘but why? It helps us to find steadiness in the right here and now, to be “fully present, aware and awake”.
With mindfulness you can bring more ease and attention into the smallest of jobs like doing the dishes or a bigger challenge like handling tantrums (yours or your child’s).
Hurry and distraction are the two threats in a busy day and household.
And, in a nutshell, hurry and distraction are the two threats to mindfulness. If you want to think how important mindfulness is, think of its opposite ‘forgetfulness’. In our busyness we can miss vital signs that our child is struggling. As we focus ever more intensely on the external pressures around us, we may not even notice our own internal stress triggers and signals. Hurry can also lead us towards reactively viewing or labeling our child’s behaviour as “naughty or trying” and the old favourite of ‘my child is pushing my buttons!’
I think it is safe to assume that most of us have been here at some point in our lives, to varying degrees and it is certainly an important, if not vital topic on how we can create more calm and balance into our very own being and our parenting.
- To bring greater attention to what you are doing; daily actions and interaction.
- To set intention to why you do what you do and give greater meaning and purpose.
- To notice your attitude and use it to bring out the best in each other.
- To enhance appreciation and gratitude which significantly increases your level of health and wellbeing.
- To promote brain growth, improve learning, increase focus, reduces stress, enhance emotional intelligence and develop empathy.
- To help steady and calm the body and the mind in times of stress and anxiety.
- Improved focus and attention
- Increased connectivity in relationships and environment
- Increased appreciation
- Increased physical relaxation
- Increased gratitude
- Increased ability to deal with stress
- Improved emotional awareness
- Improved body awareness
- Improved mind body connection
Things to be mindful of;
- It takes practice
- It takes consistency
- It takes encouragement
- It takes exploration
- It takes curiosity
- It takes time
- It takes effort
- It takes willingness
Here is a simple breathing practice to teach your child. If you don’t have a piece of fruit, herbs or flower, ask your child to imagine what it may smell like and how we use our nose to smell.
Flower/ Herb/Fruit Breath
This is a great way to start as you can ask your child to smell a flower or an orange.
Step 1: Ask them to smell the flower.
Step 2: Put the flower/fruit down and then encourage your child to breathe in through their nose as if they are smelling a flower and then breathe out through their nose.
Step 3: Add to your child’s awareness with some questions.
Does your breath feel cool or warm when you breathe in?
Does your breathe feel cool or warm when you breathe out?
How does your body feel when you breathe in?
What parts of the body moves when you breathe inhale?
How does your body feel when you breathe out?
What parts of the body move when you exhale?
What do you notice when you breathe?
Practicing the same time everyday can be a great start. It creates a consistent practice.
It is no different to learning anything new for the first time. Take yourself back to when you first drove a car, did you reverse park effortlessly and immediately? At first it may seem awkward, clunky or like it is going to be really hard work. Stay with it, give it a go. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain in encouraging your child as early as possible to practice being mindful.
Flower/Fruit breath can be used when your child may be upset, stressed or experiencing anxiety to bring calm and to remind them that all they have to calm them down is within them, with their very own breath.
I hope this inspires you to step on the mindfulness train and notice the benefits it can bring to you and your family’s life with the simple awareness of your very own breath!
Until next time,
Happy, whole-hearted parenting