Naturally, Thanksgiving is a time of year when you may be feeling exceptionally grateful. Making an intentional effort to acknowledge the things and/or people in your life that bring you joy is all part of what makes us love the Thanksgiving holiday. However, what if we could take these warm, thoughtful feelings with us throughout the year? What if we could slow down and recognize the things we are grateful for on a more regular basis? How can we teach not only ourselves, but also our children to be present in our daily lives?
Mindfulness is a term that has gotten much more attention over the last few years. Being mindful is such an important skill to learn, especially given the state of the world today. Promoting mindfulness with your children or your family as a whole can be a positive experience with many health benefits. Mindfulness is associated with helping to decrease anxiety, regulate emotions, improve sleep and increase focus. Whether you are a master at being mindful or just starting out, consider taking a moment this Thanksgiving to think about how mindfulness can benefit you and your family.
What exactly is mindfulness?
When explaining this term to children, mindfulness can be describes as a way to focus on paying attention to the present moment. It means slowing down and noticing what you are doing. When explaining this to children, it might be helpful to talk about what mindfulness looks like in their own world by drawing from a past experience. For example, pointing out that they were being mindful when they became frustrated and stopped to take a deep breath, but not when they were rushing through their homework.
Why do experts believe that mindfulness techniques can help children?
Skills that are developed and controlled in the prefrontal cortex of the brain can be strengthened using mindfulness techniques. Executive functioning skills such as self-regulation, focus and cognitive flexibility continue to develop as a child matures. These techniques can help support that development to help children manage their emotions, decrease anxiety and become flexible problem solvers.
How can parents and caregivers promote mindfulness?
The best way to teach children and adolescents about mindfulness it to model techniques and embody the practice yourself. Parenting is stressful and although this may seem like one more task on the “to do” list, practicing these techniques can be incredibly beneficial for reducing parenting stress. Participating in mindful meditation for even a few minutes daily can not only help your emotional well-being, it models the importance of self-care to children.
The practice of mindfulness is becoming more and more popular. There is a wealth of information out there that can help you get started. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it may be helpful to start with these suggested resources.