By 5 years of age, most children are heading into kindergarten having learned to polish learning some life skills: getting dressed, taking baths, washing hands, learning how to write, riding a bike and so on. As it turns out, it is possible to begin to teach mindfulness in children and some meditation.
It is a good idea to instill this concept as a daily habit rather than using it during times of stress. Practice is key to becoming more proficient, and can be incorporated into daily routines or activities, such as when playing outside, drawing or painting, and when doing bedtime reading. Help children feel new feelings and sensations, even if the moment may seem neutral at the time. It’s amazing how easily pleasantness can pop up after a few minutes.
Children like to copy parents so it’s a clever idea for parents to be role models for them. Practice mindfulness yourself in front of them and with them. It’s possible that at the beginning, while you are seated in a relaxed position, maybe even in a yoga pose with your eyes closed, your child may not know what you are doing (there may be even some laughing and giggling) but will be curious and learn from there.
As kids grow older, life becomes more challenging as they begin to experience the loss of control and have set backs. They may even find adversity in the school playground or classroom. It is easy to lose grip of the moment to the point that it threatens the sense of self. It is at this point that kids begin to question their worth and their strength. A simple exercise to incorporate into the practice of mindfulness is with the mnemonic RAIN (The New York Times, 2017):
Here are some phone apps that can be helpful to kids (from iPhone Magazine and Psychology Today). You may need to be involved initially to help them explore the app:
As kids grow into their pre-teen and teenage years, it will become important for them to understand that either good or adverse moments, bringing either happiness or sadness/frustration/anger, do not define them. By practicing mindfulness and meditation, they can go deeper into who they are and what they want in life. Tune in for the next article on Mindfulness for Teenagers!