Children of all ages can benefit from mindfulness

Schoolwork! Homework! Exams! Extra-murals! Add to that; learning problems, peer pressure and bullying – and it’s no wonder our children feel overwhelmed and that growing up is too hard…

How can we, as parents, help our children minimise anxiety and increase happiness?

The answer might surprise you as it’s a tool we, ourselves, are encouraged to use to save our own sanity…

Mindfulness as a tool to work through everyday stressors and experiences

According to the Principal of Riverside College, Dave Swart: “Mindfulness is the process of maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings and surrounding environment. It is the ability to be fully present, aware of where you are and what you’re doing.”

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“Well-conducted mindfulness practice can improve the mental, emotional, social and physical health of young people. It has the potential to reduce stress, anxiety, reactivity and bad behaviour, while improving sleep and self-esteem.”

He shares five ways parents can implement mindfulness at home:

5 Ways parents can implement mindfulness at home

1. Find ways of incorporating mindfulness into your everyday activities

To authentically teach mindfulness to your children, you must be able to practice the techniques yourself. Find ways of incorporating mindfulness techniques into your everyday activities; this can be by taking the time to cook your dinner or enjoying a nice bath at the end of a long day – some time out from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

To authentically teach mindfulness to your children, you must be able to practice the techniques yourself

2. Keep things simple

Keep things simple – don’t implement several mindfulness practices at once. Instead, try one technique and see how this affects your family. Mindfulness won’t change your child’s behaviour completely. Instead, it will teach them to cope with the everyday stressors that they experience (like feeling overwhelmed by all the homework they have).

3. Be mindful with discipline

Be mindful with discipline. Discipline is part of parenting, but it doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience for both parent and child. Approaching discipline mindfully allows you to listen to your child and give them the space to communicate what’s bothering them.

4. Incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine

Incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine – have a designated time of day when you can sit down with your child and practice mindfulness. This can be when they come home from school or just before they go to bed.

5. Implement effective exercises to encourage your child’s awareness of the world around them

Some practical exercises that you can start implementing in your home:

  • Include daily mindful walks
  • Take note of your breathing
  • At the dinner table, say what you’re grateful for

Good to know:

In order to promote positive mental health habits, Riverside College (based in Burgundy Estate, Cape Town) has implemented mindfulness in their classrooms.

By implementing mindfulness in the classroom, the school aims to teach both staff and learners a way to work through everyday stressors and experiences. The practice involves paying attention to certain stimuli and disregarding others, helping students focus on the task at hand and preventing them from feeling overwhelmed.