Young children possess a natural ability to practice mindfulness. They innately do not think much about the past or the future. Instead, they reside in the present moment. Starting a mindfulness practice at a young age can guide them to pay attention in the present moment and help them develop a life long skill set to gain behavior regulation, focus, and self-esteem.
Susan Kaiser Greenland, author of The Mindful Child states that mindfulness is the new ABCs for learning and leading a balanced life. All over the globe, mindfulness is slowly starting to become part of the curriculum and is usually taught a couple of times a week to students K-12. The following benefits have been found in students when practicing a mindfulness program:
- Increase in moment to moment awareness
- Increase in attention
- Increase in social skills
- Increase in sleep quality
- Understanding of emotions
- Increase of meta-cognition
- Decrease in anxiety (especially test related)
- Decrease in ADHD behaviors
- Decrease in aggressive behaviors
I have two small children and when I practice mindfulness they want to join in. Together we do hatha yoga or lay down to focus on belly breathing. By making these sessions short, they are able to follow along. These are great opportunities to teach children at an early age to make time for pauses in each day.
Another example of how our family participates in mindfulness is during meal times. Most evenings we all sit and eat dinner together and make sure that we do not have distractions at the table (electronics, toys, etc.). Since my children are small, focusing on eating will help us to enjoy the food we are eating, establish table manners, and help pay attention to portions. I also believe mindful eating educates anyone on how to be grateful for the small things in our day to day lives.
I am looking forward to reading The Mindful Child and other books on how I can teach my children mindfulness. I truly believe that mindfulness is a vital habit to have throughout our lives that enables emotional stability and self-awareness.
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