Mind­ful­ness, the new Su­per­power Kids for

Healthy Mama - - Contents - By: Rekha Magon, co-founder of In­ner Rhythm

A child’s per­son­al­ity is sig­nif­i­cantly de­vel­oped by age seven. By this time, chil­dren al­ready ex­hibit the traits that re­main with them through­out their lives. There­fore, the ini­tial years in a child’s life are cru­cial to shape their char­ac­ter and have a last­ing im­pact on their fu­ture.

Did you know that…

• 90% of a child’s long term hap­pi­ness is de­ter­mined by the way their brain pro­cesses the world.

• A child’s brain is 31% more pro­duc­tive in a pos­i­tive com­pared to a neg­a­tive state of mind.

• Dopamine floods into the body when the brain is in a pos­i­tive state. This turns on the learn­ing cen­tres in a child’s brain giv­ing them the abil­ity to adapt to the world in a mean­ing­ful way.

• Sim­ply put, em­pow­er­ing chil­dren to pos­i­tively in­ter­pret the world will im­pact their per­son­al­ity and trans­form their lives. This is mind­ful­ness.

What is Mind­ful­ness?

Mind­ful­ness is a par­tic­u­lar way of pay­ing at­ten­tion with a pos­i­tive mind. It is the men­tal process of pur­pose­fully bring­ing pos­i­tive aware­ness to one’s mo­ment to mo­ment ex­pe­ri­ence. With reg­u­lar prac­tice, mind­ful­ness is known to change im­pul­sive re­ac­tions to more thought­ful re­sponses.

Mind­ful­ness has be­come pop­u­lar world­wide. Mind­ful­ness is be­ing used in medicine to treat pa­tients, in cor­po­rate en­vi­ron­ments to in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity, and by ath­letes and artists to en­hance per­for­mance. With so many lead­ers and role-mod­els at­tribut­ing their suc­cess to a reg­u­lar mind­ful­ness prac­tice, the time has come to bring mind­ful­ness to our chil­dren.

A reg­u­lar mind­ful­ness prac­tice at home can:

• Im­prove your child's con­cen­tra­tion and mem­ory re­call

• In­crease the abil­ity to prob­lem solve and make re­spon­si­ble de­ci­sions

• En­hance aca­demic suc­cess

• Re­duce anx­i­ety and cul­ti­vate cop­ing skills

• In­crease aware­ness and em­pa­thy of self and oth­ers

• Im­prove be­havioural pat­terns and build healthy re­la­tion­ships

Un­for­tu­nately, our cur­rent education sys­tem fo­cuses solely on aca­demic per­for­mance with lit­tle em­pha­sis on so­cial and emo­tional learn­ing. It is cru­cial that par­ents help ful­fill this gap by wa­ter­ing the seed of mind­ful­ness in their chil­dren.

Mind­ful Par­ent­ing

Given that chil­dren ab­sorb so much from the be­hav­iour of par­ents, it’s es­sen­tial that par­ents learn to be mind­ful role-mod­els them­selves. Chil­dren silently ob­serve and mimic how their par­ents re­act to var­i­ous stim­uli. For that rea­son alone, it is crit­i­cal for par­ents to em­body the con­cept of mind­ful­ness to have a last­ing im­pact on their chil­dren. De­vel­op­ing a reg­u­lar fam­ily mind­ful­ness prac­tice can be fun, heal­ing and trans­for­ma­tive for both chil­dren and par­ents.

De­vel­op­ing a reg­u­lar fam­ily mind­ful­ness prac­tice can be fun, heal­ing and trans­for­ma­tive for both chil­dren and par­ents.

How to Be­gin

The goal when in­tro­duc­ing this con­cept is to make it a fun ex­pe­ri­ence and de­velop a pos­i­tive as­so­ci­a­tion to mind­ful­ness. We en­cour­age par­ents and care­tak­ers to start with just a minute or two of for­mal mind­ful­ness prac­tice each day and in­crease it grad­u­ally over time. Try and set a fixed time each day for this prac­tice as reg­u­lar­ity and con­sis­tency is key. A morn­ing mind­ful­ness rou­tine is a pow­er­ful way to start the day and chil­dren are of­ten most fo­cussed at this time.

A more for­mal prac­tice in­volves get­ting into a mind­ful pos­ture with your child with six ba­sic guide­lines: fac­ing for­ward, back upright, be still, quiet, keep your body & mind re­laxed yet alert and let your eyes close.

Once you and your chil­dren are set­tled and com­fort­able in a mind­ful pos­ture, bring your at­ten­tion to your breath and en­cour­age your chil­dren to do the same. Ask them to take deep breaths while guid­ing them with pos­i­tive af­fir­ma­tions. (i.e. I am calm and re­laxed. I am aware and fo­cussed. I am kind and car­ing).

A for­mal prac­tice is pow­er­ful, how­ever, mind­ful­ness can be prac­ticed any­where you are, no mat­ter what you’re do­ing. Some sug­ges­tions in­clude; guid­ing your child to be more aware of their sur­round­ings by ask­ing them to pay at­ten­tion to dif­fer­ent sounds in the room or fo­cus­ing their eyes on the small­est ob­ject in sight. Dur­ing meal time, en­cour­age your child to eat slowly and qui­etly to en­hance the ex­pe­ri­ence of each of their senses as they eat. In­spire mind­ful dis­cus­sions dur­ing meal times by ask­ing you child the fol­low­ing ques­tions: "How did it feel to eat qui­etly and mind­fully? Where did this food come from and which item trav­elled the far­thest to reach us? Lastly, de­vel­op­ing a grat­i­tude prac­tice at the end of each day and en­cour­ag­ing your child to find new things to be grate­ful for, will to lead into a rest­ful, re­ju­ve­nat­ing sleep.

When chil­dren are given the tech­niques and tools to cul­ti­vate mind­ful­ness their per­for­mance lev­els in­crease in all facets of their lives. Ev­ery child has a spirit that moves to its own rhythm and beat. Mind­ful­ness guides them to lis­ten to that in­ner voice and dis­cover their true au­then­tic melody.

Rekha Magon is a mind­ful­ness ex­pert & the co-founder of In­ner Rhythm, a so­cial en­ter­prise spe­cial­iz­ing in bring­ing mind­ful­ness to young chil­dren, par­ents, day­cares, el­e­men­tary schools and li­braries. The Mind­ful­ness Starter Kit, a prod­uct geared for young chil­dren, is rec­om­mended by ex­perts for keep­ing chil­dren en­gaged and cap­ti­vated dur­ing their mind­ful­ness prac­tice.

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