Can kids really be mindful?
The answer is YES!
Mindfulness is a technique to pay attention to the present moment. Now what does that actually mean? We live a fast pace and busy life, often times feeling like we can’t show our feelings because it makes us look weak. So, internally we suppress our emotions. Being mindful is about being aware of our thoughts and feelings in the moment. The more we acknowledge our feelings, the more they will be free flowing and eventually dissipate.
First YOU have to practice being mindful, we can’t expect our kids to do something that we don’t model. Focus on yourself first.
Mindfulness is not a cure all, but it can be a powerful tool. It can help with sensory issues, big emotions, stress, and anxiety.
When we bottle up big emotions, they eventually come back stronger than ever. Allow your child to feel their emotions (and you too!) Don’t try to make them go away or invalidate them. We need to acknowledge the emotion, breathe and invite in the emotion and it won’t remain in our bodies for long. Sit with your emotions. Acknowledge them. Don’t run from them.
In the book, Good Morning Sunshine by Tina Markusson she stays, “We have so many perfect moments we miss each day because we’re stuck in thoughts that can take us away from the present moment. If we spend our time thinking about the future or replaying past hurts, we’re missing what’s going on in the present moment,” she goes on to explain, “Our bodies react to those stressful thoughts with headaches, tummy aches, and tense muscles.”
This is also known as anxiety, asking ourselves the “what if” questions. How many times have you heard your child say, “what if I fall and hurt myself, what if you don’t come back, what if I can’t do it.” Teaching mindfulness and being in the present can rid the what ifs and the anxiety of the unknown.
A mindful script to do with your child:
Cookie Breath: Use your imagination and imagine you are making cookies with your child. Have your child imagine their favorite cookie.
I want you to imagine we are making your favorite cookie. What shape is it? What color is it? What is inside the cookie? Did you make the cookies together? It is now piping hot and fresh out of the oven. What is something we can do to cool off the cookie? If we touch it, it might burn our fingers. Let’s blow some cool air on the cookies to cool them off so we can eat. Let’s remember to use our bellies to breathe and not our chest. On the count of 3, let’s blow on the cookies to cool them off. 1, 2, 3, breathe out as hard as you can with your belly, breathe in with your nose. Let’s repeat this 3 times so I know they are cool enough to eat. Wow! They seem like they are cool enough to eat. Now it is time to eat the cookie!
If your child is struggling with an emotion, on their breaths, have them breathe out “anger” or “worry” and breathe in the smell of the warm chocolate chip cookie they made with their imagination.