Children are more stressed out and anxious than ever before. In our fast paced, hectic, and digital world, the impact of this way of being can be detrimental to the health and welfare of our children. Wide-spread use of electronic devices exposes children to information and various forms of stimulation at rapid speeds. In addition to schoolwork and household responsibilities, children may be involved in many extracurricular activities and overscheduled with other commitments. More and more children report feeling anxious, stressed, tired, and easily frustrated. Their young bodies and minds cannot take it all. Children often lack healthy coping skills to deal with the pressures they experience and need help developing skills to navigate the challenges in their lives. What is Mindfulness? Mindfulness is a way of being and an effective tool for coping with a stressful world. It teaches children to notice and bring their attention to what is happening in the present moment: their thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Mindfulness teaches children to notice and bring their attention to what is happening in the present moment. Mindfulness is not concerned with what happened in the past or what may happen in the future. Children are naturally more mindful than adults; they are often much more present in the here and now, so learning mindfulness practices may come more easily to them. There are two formal practices of mindfulness that are effective tools for coping with stress: meditation and yoga. These practices are positive, portable and scientifically proven to help lower stress, build resilience, aid with concentration and focus, regulate emotions, as well as provide other mental and physical benefits. Meditation and yoga require time, patience, commitment and practice. Children can do meditation and yoga alone, with a friend, or with a parent or caregiver. Meditation Mindfulness meditation focuses on being in the present by focusing on one’s breath. The breath serves as an anchor to wandering thoughts that may arise during meditation practice. When children focus on their breathing, they may notice their thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations and become more in tune with their minds and bodies. Bringing their attention to a sound, smell or bodily sensation can also serve as anchors instead of the breath. Meditation should be done in a quiet place, free of distractions. Children may meditate on the floor, a mat, a chair or lying down. Sitting is recommended because, if they lie down during meditation, they are more likely to fall asleep. Meditation practice is best done regularly and at a time that works for your child. It can be a great way to start or end a day. Bedtime may be a great time to meditate to help your child unwind, relax and fall asleep. Helping your child learn to meditate can be a special experience for both of you, as your child learns from your example. When teaching your child to meditate, start with shorter periods of time and gradually increase the practice. Three to five minutes is anRead More
The holidays are hectic. With all the parties, concerts, food, lights, decorations, shopping, visiting and travel, kids and adults can feel overwhelmed. Even good stress, like the anticipation of a coming holiday or finding just the right gift for a loved one, can take a toll on individuals and families alike. Why not give your family the gift of calm this holiday season by practicing mindfulness together? You don’t need to sit silently and meditate, you just need to slow down and be in the moment. You can model holiday mindfulness for your child by putting down your phone and other electronics and being present for each experience. Encourage your children to focus on their five senses and their hearts throughout the season. Here are some ideas to bring mindfulness to many common holiday activities and tasks: Concerts, plays, and other performances: These are a feast for the eyes and ears. Encourage your child to watch and listen carefully. Ask them to think about how watching and listening to the performers makes them feel. At intermissions and afterward, talk about what each of you found the most beautiful, surprising, funny or sad during the performance. Decorations: Even if you don’t decorate your home for the holidays, you’ll be surrounded by decorations in your community. The sights, sounds, and smells can be overwhelming. Lights are a big part of many winter holidays, whether they are candles, twinkling lights on trees, or big displays. Talk with your child about lights as you see them or as you light candles. Why do they think lights are such an important part of many winter holiday celebrations? How do the lights make them feel? What are their favorite kinds of lights? Share your tradition’s stories about the role of lights. Many of our holiday decorations have a distinctive scent: pine, melted wax, spices (think Gingerbread houses or clove and orange pomanders). Even fire in the fireplace--not necessarily a holiday thing, but a cozy winter experience--has a distinctive smell. Encourage your child to notice the way things smell different at the holidays. Some people even think that air outside has a distinctive smell when it is going to snow. Cooking, baking and feasting: Taste and smell are front and center here, but also touch. Include your children in cooking and baking for the season, allowing them to help with as much preparation as possible. Ask them to think about how ingredients feel and smell as they prepare them. Even preschoolers can help tearing lettuce for a salad! When eating special holiday treats, encourage your child to taste slowly, savoring the flavor, texture, and aroma of each item. Ask them to describe how a treat tastes. When making and eating traditional family items, tell your child the story of the dish and the memories you have around it. Gifts: Choosing gifts for folks can be an overwhelming task, and often buying gifts can be expensive, hectic, time-consumingRead More
Breathing as a Means to Mindfulness
One way to practice being mindful is to focus on breathing, and understand the role it plays in helping us feel calm, relaxed, and focused. In the Magination Press Family bookstore, you’ll find an assortment of kid-friendly, APA-approved books that explore breathing exercises you can try with your child, such as Breathe by Inês Castel-Branco, which uses illustrated exercises to help children become aware of their breath and their bodies.
Different people prefer different forms of relaxation. One person might like to soak in a hot bath; someone else might prefer a brisk walk in the snow. Helping your child discover what relaxes her and encouraging her to practice that provides her with an important life skill.Read More