Why and How to Instill Mindfulness in Your Children


Kids who practice mindfulness can improve their ability to concentrate. Cope with stress, control their emotions, and have a positive outlook. Here’s how to impart the knowledge to them.

My daughter began studying mindfulness in her third-grade class at school last year. The pupils would circle up, close their eyes. And sit calmly while they observed their own thoughts and the world around them. Danielle Mahoney, the mindfulness instructor and literacy coach at P.S. 212Q in Jackson Heights, Queens, conducted each class, which featured a new lesson on heartfulness, mindful seeing, mindful listening, or mindful breathing (or sending kind thoughts to others). The young pupils were supposed to benefit from learning these tactics by being able to concentrate in class and feel less anxious.

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Although my daughter first opposed mindfulness because she complained that the singing bowl they rang to begin the sessions caused her a headache and harmed her ears, she gradually warmed to it. She found that the sessions helped her focus and that she began to enjoy them. I have seen that she is more able to concentrate herself at home since she started utilising the technique at school. She has the ability to stop when she begins to become anxious about something. Take a deep breath, and change her viewpoint in order to have a less emotional—and more useful—reaction. This is a significant development for a young child who is highly sensitive and theatrical.

According to Mahoney, who is trained in mindfulness teaching by Mindful Schools, “the greatest impact I’ve seen so far with the pupils. There has been a rise in compassion among those I have worked with, both for themselves and for others.” “They learn how to consider their next move rather than immediately react. They are more aware of how their brains function and are more curious and awestruck by their own ideas, feelings, and physical experiences.”

Mahoney, who has shown the technique to more than 300 pupils. Continues that the kids appear to have improved coping and communication abilities. They are experts at being present for both themselves and other people.

How To Introduce Mindfulness in the Household

Parents may and should use some of the same teachings instructors utilise in the classroom at home. Regardless of whether children are studying mindfulness in school or not. They ought to research kid-friendly mindfulness exercises as well.

Dr. Hersey emphasizes that for children to truly integrate a skill into their lifelong learning, it must be reinforced at home in addition to any learning that takes place outside of the home. Furthermore, the foundation she works with provides an exclusive opportunity for parents and carers to participate in MindUP family workshop. Aimed at promoting the development of essential skills in children. MindUP’s creator Goldie Hawn also published a book, 10 Mindful Minutes. Exclusively for parents so they could assist their kids learn these abilities. If children are to learn new information efficiently, they must apply it to a variety of situations. Giving them the proper context will enable them to say things like, “Well, I learned this in school, but this really helps me when I’m stressed out on the softball pitch.””

These are some methods for instilling mindfulness in children at home:

  • Employ a programme like Stop, Breathe, and Think. Have trouble getting your kid to unwind? For youngsters between the ages of 5 and 10, get the Stop, Breathe & Think Kids app (free; App Store). It includes a number of kid-friendly mindfulness exercises that promote concentration, sound sleep, and quiet time. Emojis are used as a way for users to check in with their emotions. And they are rewarded with stickers for accomplishing their mindful objectives.
  • Talk about food. This is a very well-liked mindfulness practise for children. When it comes to mindful tasting, Dr. Hersey adds, “we talk about the significance of being consciously aware when we are eating and focusing on each morsel and what does it taste like, simply connecting with food and not watching TV or focused on conversation.” We tend to eat more when we watch TV when we are eating, according to a lot of study. Rather than taking our time to be present in that specific moment.
  • You may unwind by taking a “mental holiday.” Students take a deep breath and relax themselves for three to five minutes to quiet their minds, be present, and just focus. This is one of MindUP’s basic activities. Parents may urge their children to take a mental break while doing their schoolwork, in difficult situations, or simply while changing activities. Dr. Hersey explains, “It’s just a moment when you need to relax a little and just be present.” It’s absolutely essential to set aside some time to be serene. Recall the things that matter, and truly concentrate on the good.
  • Do “listening strolls.” Additional lessons include teaching children to fully be in the now and not to worry about tomorrow’s maths test or Saturday’s birthday celebration by exercising mindful awareness while engaging in common activities like walking and eating. Dr. Hersey advises parents to take their kids on a “listening walk” and to ask them what noises they hear, what the sounds remind them of, and how the sounds help them recall or appreciate joyful times.

The Advantages of Mindfulness Practice

It is not merely anecdotal that mindfulness has advantages for mental health and wellbeing. A growing corpus of scientific data supports this claim. It has been demonstrated that mindfulness training increases one’s capacity to manage emotions. Pay attention more intently, experience less stress, and feel compassion and empathy. Moreover, mindfulness is frequently recommended as a successful psychotherapy approach for adults, kids, and teenagers who struggle with aggressiveness, ADHD, or mental health issues like anxiety.

According to Maria Hersey, Ph.D., the U.S. director of education and training at The Hawn Foundation, which educates educators to teach their science-based mindfulness curriculum, MindUP. Mindful awareness aids children with self-regulation, optimism, planning, and organisational skills. The advantages of mindful awareness on children’s academic and cognitive development have been shown in several research. It aids in their execution and prioritisation.”

According to the Hawn Foundation, 90% of kids in schools where MindUP has been introduced have improved their social skills. Seventy-five percent of the youngsters improved their planning and organising abilities. While 75 percent had improved their self-concept, self-regulation, and self-management. The same number also had improved impulse control and had reduced reactivity. Also, there were fewer absences from school by students and teachers, fewer incidents of bullying, and fewer visits to the principal’s office.

According to Dr. Hersey, students learn about paying attention to the present moment and being present with oneself, the people they connect with, and their surroundings in a non-judgmental way. Incorporating mindful awareness practices in education aims to encourage students to examine their beliefs and behaviors, make better decisions for themselves and others, and develop critical thinking skills while fostering responsibility and empathy. Therefore, in our technologically advanced society where everyone is interconnected. We discuss with students the significance of self-regulation and the need to understand how the brain functions in order for them to respond to situations less emotionally and more logically and to realise that they are capable of being in control of themselves and their actions.”

Setting Up A Family Practice

Mahoney claims that parents who practise mindfulness themselves may have the biggest influence on their children. Regardless of how they decide to teach it to their kids. Parents should urge their kids to practise for a little while each day and then practise with them, she advises. Creating a routine of closing your eyes, focusing on your breath. And observing sensations in your body with love and curiosity can cultivate mindfulness. Leading to a more balanced and aware approach to daily life for individuals and families., thoughts, and emotions.”

It might be challenging to take a few moments each day to breathe when you’re a busy parent juggling family, job, friends, housework, and “me time,” but I’m committed to practise mindfulness in order to set an example for my daughter. Developing a skill that can help my child connect with her own thoughts and feelings is worth the effort, just like eating a balanced diet, exercising, reading, and any other habit we hope will help our children grow into happy, healthy individuals.

The secret to living life to the fullest is to be in the now. As cartoonist Bil Keane of The Family Circle put it, “Tomorrow is the future, but today is a gift. Yesterday is the past. It is therefore referred to as the present.

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