It’s a brand new year and the festive stress and excitement are behind us. As we head home and get ready for work and the new school year, we all have the opportunity to start afresh. No matter if things did not go as planned last year, and if family meals were a bit rushed and not as healthy as they should be, or if stress and irritability took their toll, now is the time to put all that behind us and resolve to do things differently.
We can make a promise to ourselves to be more patient, present and imaginative parents. What could be more important? And in order to achieve this, we can practice mindfulness with ourselves and our children.
“Mindfulness is the ability to attend to the present moment, with curiosity and without judgment. It is a life skill that promotes well-being, concentration, resilience and empathy.”
Mindfulness practice can also be of great benefit to children
Mindfulness is being in a state of active, open attention to the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them as either good or bad, and without immediately acting on them. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment, and trying through exercises such as meditation and breathing, to keep yourself in the present.
Mindfulness practice can also be of great benefit to children. There is research which indicates that mindfulness can help children to calm themselves, emotionally self-regulate and improve cognitive focus. Of course we all want our children to grow up with these essential life skills as part of their emotional repertoire.
Where do we start?
How can we teach these important skills to our children? Remember to tailor your explanation of what mindfulness is to the age of your child, but these activities below could be a good introduction to the practice.
- Make a specific time in the week, when everybody in the family can be quiet and calm. Ask your children to lie on the floor and breathe slowly and deeply for five minutes. Encourage them to talk about how they feel at that moment.
- Create a mindful bedtime ritual, and give your children time to talk to you about their day. Ask them to lie quietly, breathe deeply and calm down before going to sleep.
- Establish a gratitude practice with the family, such as each of you saying what you are thankful for each day. Many parents do this during dinner each evening.
We’ve found a great site that shows you how to create a ‘Mind Jar’ with your children, which can help them to calm themselves and their thoughts. If you need more mindfulness inspiration, watch this wonderful video in which children talk about their emotions and the way in which they regulate and calm themselves.
Article by: Esther van der Vyver, first published on Xander.
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