Practising mindfulness can help children focus and concentrate better, manage their emotions, and maintain a more positive mindset, so it’s a valuable skill for them to learn. It’s one they can use when they’re feeling stressed or anxious, or when they just want to switch off from everyday life for a while and truly relax. If you’re keen to explore mindfulness with your child, here are some tips from a private school in Hertfordshire.
When you’re having a quiet moment with your child, prompt them to sit still, close their eyes and place one hand on their belly and one on their chest. Then ask them to breathe in deeply through their nose, hold the breath, and then let it out slowly from their mouth. Encourage them to pay attention to how their stomach and chest rise and fall, and the other sensations they can feel in their body. Ask them how they feel after doing this – hopefully, they’ll be relaxed and calm. Explain to your child that deep, mindful breathing is a strategy they can use to calm themselves down whenever they feel anxious or overwhelmed, or when they’re struggling with difficult emotions like anger or sadness.
Next time you’re out on a walk, encourage your child to pay close attention to the sights and sounds around them. Ask them what they can see, hear and feel, and get them to describe it in detail. This teaches children to immerse themselves in the present moment, rather than worrying about something that’s coming up or ruminating on a past event.
Eating can provide a great opportunity for children to incorporate mindfulness into their everyday life. To practise mindful tasting, prompt your child to focus only on what they’re eating and how it tastes, smells, and feels. Ask them to describe the details to you. Avoid watching TV or doing anything else while eating so they can focus only on their food. Encourage your child to take their time and savour each bite, without getting distracted or thinking about anything else. Eating slower helps with regulating appetite, as well as being more aware of what’s being consumed.
There are plenty of apps out there that help with practising mindfulness and you could explore these with your child. Some will have mindfulness missions for children to complete, as well as other mindfulness-based activities. If your child likes their screen time, you might find it easier to engage them with mindfulness by using an app or computer game. There might also be TV programs they could watch which encourage children to stop and pay attention to the moment.
If your child finds it hard to switch off and relax, they might find mindful body scanning helpful. This is particularly useful at night when trying to get to sleep. When they’re laying in bed, prompt them to travel through each part of their body and notice the sensations they can feel there, before relaxing each one in turn. This should help them drift off to sleep.