This post was written by Samantha McGraw, a guest contributor to Saved By Grace. Her other post, How to Teach Kids to Meditate, is a very popular post.
Mindfulness with kids doesn’t have to mean 30 minutes of quietly meditating. Kids of all ages and backgrounds can learn to practice mindfulness, and each kid’s practice will look as different as the kids themselves.
7 Ways to Teach Your Kids Mindfulness
No matter how it’s practiced, mindfulness offers calm and clarity when difficult times arise. The world is not always kindhearted; kids will get hurt. But if we teach them right, they will discover that their greatest challenges can also be their greatest teachers.
Teaching children to be present and mindful builds emotional intelligence, leading to happier kids and families.
The problem is that kids are trained to disconnect. In our preoccupied world, the default reaction to stress is to check out. Don’t like how you’re feeling? Feeling bored? Check out with something outside of yourself by watching a movie, playing a video game, or checking social media. A recent study found that adolescent boys would rather receive 10 minutes of low-level electric shocks than spend 10 minutes alone with their thoughts, without their electronics. When our children are taught to disconnect from their life, it’s no wonder they struggle with their emotions.
Mindfulness and compassion go against this disconnection by forcing you to slow down and connect with your experience and the world around. Over time, kids learn to tolerate their experiences, good and bad, and come to see that every experience is manageable. Teaching children to check in, rather than check out of, with their experience builds emotional intelligence.
In fact, research in mindfulness shows that meditation and mindfulness practices are helpful for the whole family. They can help you be calmer, less stressed, more present, and more effective as a parent. One of the most valuable gifts of a mindfulness practice is this: that what we practice ourselves, physically, emotionally and spiritually, helps others.
If you or your kids think you don’t have time for even a little mindfulness, think again. There are many small moments in your everyday life that can become a mindful moment. You and your kids can take an opportunity to be mindful whenever you are reminded by the following 7 everyday moments:
- Lying in bed first thing in the morning, just before getting up
- Hearing the sound of laughter or sharing in it yourself
- Feeling the breeze on your cheek
- Hearing the birds chirping
- Opening a book or notebook
- Taking the first bite of a meal
- Hugging or cuddling someone
Just allow yourself to be “in the moment” when you experience any of these activities. You’ll notice yourself easily reconnecting with your life. Together, you and your kids can easily think of dozens of more ways to pause and be mindful every day.