In our booming digital age with its high expectations and fast-paced living, it’s easy to lose track of our mindfulness. Visible stresses, the ones we carry on our shoulders from work to home and the struggles of everyday life, muddies teaching mindfulness and kindness to children.
When we recognise our thoughts, we can take ownership. Teaching mindfulness begins by listening to ourselves. By being present in our own lives, we can also be present for our children. A child learns by copying behaviour, so role models are always the best teachers.
Read on to discover:
- What is mindfulness
- What are the benefits of mindfulness
- What’s the link between mindfulness and kindness
- How to practice being present
- How to teach kids mindfulness.
What is mindfulness
Mindfulness is often confused with a spiritual awakening, being Zen or the act of meditation. While these activities promote mindfulness, being mindful is merely the act of being aware of what’s happening right now.
Some people call it being present in the now. It includes using your senses to be aware of yourself and your environment. So, what you see, hear, taste, smell and feel, but also how you feel on the inside, your emotions and thoughts and how you respond to what’s happening.
The Early Years Learning Framework or EYLF calls it “being”. It recognises the “significance of the here and now” in a child’s life. It’s about your child being present, getting to know themselves, developing relationships and exploring the joys of everyday life.
The art of mindfulness is being aware without judging. So, turning off your negative and critical thoughts that dredge things up from the past or that could happen in the future. Staying focused in the present is tricky.
But being present is also about being aware of this judgement, how it makes you feel and act and learning to react differently.
What are the benefits of mindfulness for kids
Practising mindfulness has many benefits for both adults and children. Being mindful improves:
1. Improves decision making
It creates a space between a strong emotion and the way we react.
2. Strengthens social interactions
Mindfulness leads to an increase in social behaviours.
3. Provides stress relief
Ability to deal with stress or regulate against the harmful effects of negative emotions improves.
4. Quietens busy minds
Negative thoughts about the past or future are replaced with a mindful observation of what we see, hear, smell, taste and feel.
5. Regulates emotions
Being able to identify and acknowledge how we feel, allows us to cope and respond to our inner feelings consciously.
6. Increases ability to focus
Less noise in our heads means we are less likely to be distracted by our emotions and thoughts.
7. Improves self-esteem
Recognising our negative thoughts allows us to respond to them with kindness and feel better about ourselves. Improved focus and enhanced skills boost self-esteem.
8. Accelerates learning and memorising
Less stress, quieter minds and improved focus enhance cognitive, creative abilities and problem-solving skills.
9. Makes us feel better emotionally and physicallyWith less stress and anxiety to deal with, we get better sleep, and our health improves.
What’s the link between mindfulness and kindness
By practising mindfulness and making better decisions, we can respond to things without hurting our own feelings or those of others. Being mindful creates a safe space where we can consider all those feelings. It gives us the opportunity to react gracefully.
Mindfulness begins with being kind to yourself. Being mindful requires us to become aware of and accept our negative thoughts. By being kind to ourselves, we are able to listen and hear others more clearly. When we are kind to ourselves, our compassion for others grows.
When you’re mindful, you are:
- More aware of the world around you
- More likely to notice where kindness is needed
- More able to feel connected with others and the world around you.
How to practice being present with mindfulness meditation
The first step to teaching mindfulness is to become mindful yourself. Meditation is one of the tools for achieving mindfulness. Find twenty minutes in your day to close your eyes and practice meditating.
If meditation seems daunting, try a quiet relaxation exercise instead:
- Find a comfortable chair or a quiet spot on the floor where you can sit or lie comfortably.
- Close your eyes and relax your body.
- Focus on your breathing and the rise and fall of your chest.
- Be aware when your mind wanders off to other thoughts.
- Return your focus to your breathing and let your other thoughts fade away.
There are many variations to this relaxation exercise. Instead of focusing on your breath, you can choose to focus on what you hear, smell or touch/feel.
Teaching mindfulness to children
Asking children to sit quietly for 20 minutes can be a difficult feat. But teaching mindfulness to children is not impossible. Rouse their curiosity by doing your relaxation exercise where they can easily join in.
If they don’t join you straight away, that’s okay. Perhaps your child needs a little enticement. Invite them to join your relaxation time. Ask them to bring their favourite teddy. Their teddy can sit beside them or on their chest.
Show them how to focus on their breathing. Use the teddy as a prop. They can watch it rise and fall on their chest. The first time you do this together, it may only last a few minutes, but each time you practise, it will get longer.
After each relaxation exercise, ask your child how they felt during it. Did they feel uncomfortable or have any troubling thoughts? Were they able to focus on the rise and fall of their chest?
Be Inspired With Mindfulness at Petit Early Learning Journey
At Petit ELJ we recognise our duty to help little people grow and learn. Our holistic approach to learning embraces a connection of mind, body and spirit. We believe children and educators are companions through this remarkable journey of childhood. As such, we live our values.
We encourage a positive approach to guide the behaviour of children with a strong emphasis on modelling. That is, when Educators display appropriate behaviour and communication through their own actions, children learn what is expected of them including compassion and empathy.
Come discuss mindfulness and the Early Years Learning Framework with our Educators at your nearest Petit centre. Book a tour now.