By: Jessica DeLing
Promoting mindfulness in children can be a helpful technique for improving their overall physical health. Mindfulness is known to help individuals decrease anxiety, regulate their emotions, improve sleep and increase focus. While many adults practice being mindful, children can see some of the same benefits.
What exactly is mindfulness?
This term can be easily defined to children 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 a child, it might be helpful to talk about what mindfulness looks like in their own world by drawing on 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.