Mindfulness,- it seems like the new buzz word, like gluten free for the soul. But like most ‘new’ things, it’s not actually ‘new’ but rather an ancient old practice. What you might not know is mindfulness is quite a natural state for young children, that is until they learn otherwise from adults and the world around them.
Practicing mindfulness is a whole mind and body state of awareness focusing on the importance of your present experience rather than those of the past or future. Research suggests practicing mindfulness provides a myriad of health benefits, including reducing stress, anxiety and ADHD in children.
Young children hold the unique ability to completely immerse themselves in the present moment without thinking about what’s next or dwelling on what’s happened in the past. You might have observed a young child play where they are so completely entranced in what they are doing that it seems they are ignoring their parent’s request.
This is a beautiful gift that should be fostered rather than hindered and although it is not always realistic to ‘be in the moment’, children emulate adult behavior and can quickly lose their natural knack for being present if they are constantly around stressed parents.
Demonstrating mindfulness as adult does not mean attending yoga and meditating daily, it can be as simple as eating a meal with your child, distraction and technology free. Invite your child to talk about the flavours, the smells and the taste of the food, you will be amazed at their descriptions. Or instead of turning on the TV, lie on the living room floor and do some leg stretches together, concentrating on breathing in and how it makes your muscles feel.
Limiting television and screen time will also help foster mindfulness as the child and parent can play, talk or read distraction free. Television and screen time has been proven to hinder a child’s natural curiosity whilst increasing hyperactivity and attention span.
Lastly, be realistic with your expectations of yourself and your children. We live in a fast pace world ruled by technology and parents have more stressors than ever before. Make sure you give yourself a pat on the back daily for raising wonderful children who we can learn so much from.