One of the gifts we have is presence. To give this gift to our youth and children means that they will be able to enjoy life more. They will be able to connect to source more. Here are some tips that can help you teach mindfulness to your children.
- Keep it simple. Use the words awareness or noticing with children. Mindfulness is noticing our thoughts, what our body feels like, what our ears are hearing, and anything else that is around us and happening right now.
- Listen to the bell. An easy way for children to practice mindfulness is to focus on paying attention to what they can hear. I’ve used a singing bowl for this exercise, but you could use a bell, a set of chimes, or a phone app that has sounds on it. Tell your children that you will make the sound, and they should listen carefully until they can no longer hear the sound (which is usually 30 seconds to a minute). I find that this exercise does have a calming effect on my children, and it’s a fun way to teach them to pay attention to their surroundings.
- Create a mindful bedtime ritual. Bedtime is a great time to introduce mindfulness to kids. Body-scan meditation before bed.
- Practice with a breathing buddy. For young children, an instruction to simply “pay attention to the breath” can be hard to follow. Have each student grabs a stuffed animal, and lie down on their back with their buddy on their belly. They focus their attention on the rise and fall of the stuffed animal as they breathe in and out.
- Make your walks mindful. One of my children’s favorite things to do in the summer is a noticing walk. We stroll through our neighborhood and notice things we haven’t seen before. We’ll designate one minute of the walk where we are completely silent and simply pay attention to all the sounds we can hear — frogs, woodpeckers, a lawnmower.
- Establish a gratitude practice. We believe gratitude is a fundamental component of mindfulness, teaching our children to appreciate the abundance in their lives, as opposed to focusing on all the toys and goodies that they crave. Each night at dinner we each share one thing we are thankful for.