Everyone can have stressful thoughts or big emotions, no matter their age. As parents and carers we are responsible for helping children develop the skills to manage those thoughts and emotions.
Sometimes as adults we tend to say to children, “Don’t be worried” “Don’t be angry” and think we are helping. But what we end up doing is not giving children permission to feel that way, to except their emotions and learn from them. So they can end up pushing them away and not learning how to cope with strong emotion. As they get older this can lead to them struggling and lashing out or closing off as a way to escape the overwhelming thoughts and feelings.
Teaching children to sit quietly and concentrate on their breathing provides them with a way to face any overwhelming emotions by giving them time to concentrate on themselves. Mindfulness can help children recognise the mood they are in and learn to calm down. If we learn to except our feelings then we can begin to change how we feel.
- Increases a child’s ability to self-regulate overwhelming emotions like anger or fear
- Can improve empathy which improves a child’s social-awareness
- It can help improve cognitive focus, like memory and decision making
- Involves looking closely at yourself improving self-awareness
- Can reduce anxiety
- Helps to build resilience
Teach Kids Mindfulness
First, never use mindfulness exercises as a punishment and do not force a child to practice them. Mindfulness is supposed to give children the skills to recognise how their emotions manifest within themselves.
To be effective children should be taught mindfulness when they are calm and ready to learn and the exercises should be done at least a few times a week.
I have put together four of my favourite, simple, mindfulness exercises for young children into a set of downloadable mindfulness cards that can be printed out and laminated.
Included is; Tummy Breathing