Learning to be mindful allows us to be conscious of our body and mind, our feelings, wants, reactions and limitations. It allows us to “take a break” from the hectic daily activity to “check in” to ourselves – our thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness teaches us that just like sleep is important for our body to rest and recharge, having “down-time” and being still is important for our brain to be able to learn and make the proper decisions.
We live in such a high stressed fast paced life that now more than ever it is important to have the necessary tools to help us maintain ourselves grounded, calm and focused, in order to live happy and meaningful lives.
As adults we understand the world in a very different way than children do. And as adults, we forget what it was like to be a child, discovering the world little by little. Children will tend to live more “in the present” and enjoy what they are doing at that very moment. However, in today’s fast paced life where we are always on the go, we end up teaching our children that everything has to be done fast because there is not enough time, that in order to take advantage of our time we must multitask, that free play is a waste of time and that in order to properly prepare for the future we need to have them in a million classes and directed activities, not allowing them to be creative and figure out ways to entertain themselves.
We constantly tell our children to be good and to pay attention, but do we ever take the time to explain to them what it means to be good and teach them skills to learn how to pay attention?
Be good, be nice, be polite, listen, don’t hit or bite, don’t scream, pay attention, don’t speak when someone else is speaking, wait your turn, etc., etc., etc.
Children constantly hear what they are supposed to do or not do, but most of the time they are not taught how to do many of these things or they are not given the proper explanation as to why they should or shouldn’t do them. We give them mixed messages of what is right or wrong and many times we tell them to do or not to do something yet teach by example the complete opposite of what we say.
We tell children to pay attention and to listen, but have we ever taken the time to teach them what it means to listen properly? Do we listen attentively to what they are telling us? Most of the time the answer is no.
We teach our children not to hit each other or say nasty things to one another, unless our child is being picked on or bullied and then we teach them to learn how to defend themselves and hit back if they are hit first.
Let’s face it; children are more confused than ever adding to the stress of academic pressure and peer acceptance. No wonder there are so many stress related illnesses and behavioral problems affecting our children everyday!
Mindfulness helps our children by teaching them to stop and check in…
Using the breath as a focus point and a very powerful calming tool, children learn to notice how their body feels, what they are thinking about and what they are feeling. They learn that what ever they are feeling or thinking is ok, accepting what is happening within without judgment, helping them to validate their thoughts and emotions. They learn to think things through before reacting to a thought or feeling. They learn to be compassionate and empathetic with themselves and with others.
By accepting their feelings and emotions without judgment, they learn to be more accepting and less judgmental of others. By learning to listen to themselves they slowly learn to listen to others in a more attentive way. By accepting themselves as unique individuals and learning to caring for themselves, they also learn to accept and care for others, showing more compassion and empathy.
By experiencing a sense of calm in their bodies and in their mind, children are able to concentrate better and be more focused; they become more responsive and less reactive, allowing for a healthier overall environment.
The younger we begin to teach these helpful and life-changing tools to our children, the faster they will begin to reap the benefits, allowing for a happier and healthier life.