It is a turbulent time that we are living in since the past almost two years. Even the most balanced of persons are getting affected. People who are not mentally strong enough to deal with overwhelming emotions, stress and frustration can be seen to behave erratically, sometimes, leading to disastrous consequences. This is not just limited to adults; children are increasingly becoming more stubborn, upset and stressed. It’s just that they are unable to comprehend these feelings and express them.
This is where mindfulness interventions can help. This has been gaining popularity amidst the adult population lately, and it already shows great promise in helping young children with various challenges.
You may be thinking what exactly is this “mindfulness”? Well, this is nothing but paying conscious and total attention to the moment at hand. When you teach mindfulness to your child, you are actually equipping them with tools to build self-esteem, manage stress, and skillfully approach challenges. It can also help immensely with managing conditions such as autism, challenging behaviour, ADHD, anxiety as well as stress, in children.
What do you do to develop this in your child?
Mindfulness exercises can be incorporated in a child’s daily routine. Follow simple steps like taking deep breaths to calm down, planning a relaxing experience like yoga, and so on. Mindfulness training helps to calm the mind and body and assists in being present in the moment. This enables children to be in control and fosters positive interactions and relationships.
Let’s discuss 4 simple methods that can help:
Ask your child to quieten his mind and pay attention to how he is breathing. Ask him/her to close eyes and breathe deeply. Each inhalation should get them to think of number ‘1’ and each exhalation as number ‘2’. Don’t rebuke if they open their eyes or get restless. Simply teach them to close their eyes and count breaths again when their mind wanders. You can use a bell or instrument to create a ringing sound and ask them to focus on the sound till they can no longer hear it.
You can even get your child’s favourite stuffed toy and put it on his back as he lies down. The child can then focus on the rise and fall of the toy as he breathes in and out.
This is also meditation in a playful manner way that your child can relate to. Ask him to activate his “spidey-senses” and focus on all he can smell, taste, touch and hear at the moment while his eyes are closed and he is breathing in and out slowly.
In Sitting Still Like a Frog, Eline Snel encourages children to “summon the weather report that best describes their feelings at the moment.” Sunny, rainy, stormy, calm, windy, tsunami? This activity helps children to focus on their present state of mind. This helps them to describe their feelings better and articulate them.
This is a fun and interesting way to help develop your child’s sense of taste and smell. Gather up a few food items; ask your child to close his eyes and place the food inside his mouth. Ask him to focus on the food, the taste and smell without chewing it up first.
The practice of conscious mindfulness can have a powerful effect on your child and family culture. There are no set activities and rules. You can use your own imagination and creativity to see what works for your child. The most important part of the process is to be consistent and positive about the experience.
What are the benefits?
Both adults and children go through daily lives in a mechanical manner without being really aware of the surroundings or observing what is going on around us. We take all our senses for granted. It is only when we consciously focus on things that our awareness develops. To summarise, mindfulness skills affect brains positively and improves behaviour. It also helps in improving attention span and mental health.