Exploring Mindfulness with Your Child

Mindfulness is essentially a meditation technique that encourages a person to focus on the present moment; what they can see, hear, feel, smell or taste and what their thoughts are. This is great for managing stress and other difficult emotions because it draws our thoughts away from things that have happened in the past or what may or may not happen in the future. Practising mindfulness is easier than it sounds, and it doesn’t necessarily require the support of a trained psychologist; anyone can do it. With that said, here are some tips from a private boys’ school in London on how parents can explore mindfulness with their children.

Life can feel a bit hectic sometimes, even for children who are juggling school life with their personal life. We all spend too much time overthinking and forget about the joy of just existing. The type of mindfulness activities you explore with your child will depend on their age, as pre-schoolers will respond differently to adolescents. Younger children work well with tangible objects and pictures that they can visualise in front of them as a way to help them focus on the present. When exploring mindfulness with older kids, it’s better to be more transparent about what you’re trying to achieve through the activity; help them understand what mindfulness actually is, using age-appropriate terminology.

One activity you can do is ask your child to lay down or sit comfortably and close their eyes. Ask them to pay attention to their breathing, focussing on the way the air goes in and out of their body as they inhale and exhale. Ask them to observe the way their chest and tummy rises and falls with each breath. This activity is particularly useful if you notice your child getting quite emotional or frustrated with something; it should help to calm them down as it will take the focus away from whatever it was that was bothering them.

You should try and encourage your child to stop and consider their surroundings on a regular basis, even if you’re just watching tv. Pause and ask your child to think about their senses and then share with one another what you have observed. Gardening together is a great opportunity to do something like this, as you will probably notice different things and really draw your attention back to the current experience so that you can genuinely enjoy it.

Eventually, being mindful will start to come more naturally to you and your family. You may notice that it improves mental health and wellbeing and reduces attention problems, especially for children who have ADHD or other special educational needs. If you suspect your child may have this neurodevelopmental problem, it will be best to seek professional help. Usually, a private ADHD assessment will evaluate your child and provide a comprehensive report on areas where your little one falls short in this critical neurodevelopmental area. At some point, you can help your child practice mindfulness techniques that help them focus on a specific task while boosting their ability to control certain behaviours.

Be patient with your child as they may not get the hang of it straight away and it’s not something you can force.

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