Updated: Jun 3
A child's world is full of doubts, fantasies and a lot of new information to be understood. Nowadays young people are exposed to more and more stimuli, that comes from everywhere: from home, from the demands of school life, from the technology that surrounds them and from their extracurricular activities. We've been demanding more and more of children and their attention, which activates their energetic and curious side. Obviously all of this impacts parents' lives, who may not be able to keep up with their children. But what can we do to help our kids focus their attention on one activity without quickly getting tired and shifting their focus to another stimulus? Practice mindfulness!
Mindfulness is the practice of attention and focus in the present moment. It is about being aware of what is happening here and now, and being able to focus on that. Regular practice of mindfulness exercises helps us to better understand ourselves, our bodies, our emotions and how we can manage them. In addition, it decreases anxiety and improves our memory and concentration. These effects are seen in both adults and children, but depending on the child's age the type of exercise will differ.
Before you start practicing mindfulness with your child, do it by yourself to understand the experience of participating in a guided meditation. Reflect on the difficulties you've felt and on what you liked or disliked. It is important that you do this exercise because later on you will be the one who will guide the meditation with your family. This way, you will have a better understanding on the subject.
After you are more familiar with the practice of mindfulness you can try the following activities:
From the first year until 3 years old – During walks you might do outside with your child, start talking about what you are seeing and hearing. Describe what is around you, talk about the trees, listen to the wind, be silent and watch the birds.
If it's raining outside you can always stay at home and focus on playing with a toy. Observe and talk about the colours it has, see and feel the shape of the toy together with your child, and try to hear the sounds it can make. Practice this exercise for about 10 minutes.
From 3 to 7 years old – Some mindfulness exercises are fun to do with the whole family. During a meal, tell your child that you are going to play a game: All of you are aliens now! So you don't know this planet nor the dish of food in front of you. You must analyse it!
What food is that? What does it smell like? What's the consistency? What flavours can you taste? This exercise helps the kids concentrate on the eating process, and it can help to establish rules at the table directing your child to the food. For younger children, it is an exercise that can also help to expand their vocabulary.
Above 7 years old – At this age you can perform a breathing exercise where the goal is to concentrate on the air entering and leaving the lungs and to understand what movements the body does during this process. You can count up to 5 while inhaling, then hold your breath for two seconds and exhale for other 5 seconds. It is important to explain to the child that it is normal for our mind to wander from what we are doing. What we can do is to be kind with ourselves when that happens and go back to trying to focus on the exercise.
For children suffering from anxiety – you can do the same activity but with the soap bubbles' toy. This will help your kid control the breathing pace. Focus on observing the bubbles, on understanding their shape, colours, and how they fly away.
If you want to know more about the practice of mindfulness you can check our social media or contact us. Whenever possible, practice a mindfulness exercise with your kids and family, you'll see that your lives and relationships will improve!