Mindfulness, the new Superpower Kids for
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.
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.