How We Can Model Mindfulness for Children
Published by AboutMeditation
Are you modeling mindfulness to your kids? It may be more important than you think.
Imagine it from their perspective: you get to school carrying your backpack and it's filled with hours of finished homework, your computer, phone and lunch. You’re only seven and you’re already running to keep up with a busy schedule.
Not just at school but at home too! You’re tired and just want to ride your bike. But after school you have a new list of obligations…
Even the youngest among us are feeling the speed of our accelerating world. I have found that the perfect remedy for the rapid pace of change in our culture is mindfulness and meditation. We can sail through life’s many twists and turns if we practice daily. And, from my own experience, it’s beneficial to include your children in this transformative process.
But how exactly do you teach mindfulness to your kids?
3 Simple Ways to Model Mindfulness for Children
As a mom of four, I believe preaching is not an effective way to help your kids grasp and integrate mindfulness concepts. Many cultures know that modeling is the best way to teach life skills. What your children see you do- far outweighs what they hear you say.
What does this look like in practice?
First: you need to take daily moments to practice mindfulness around your children. “Tuning inward” can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths inbetween the transition from school to home. Don't hesitate to let them see you!
Second: when you pick up your children at the end of a busy day, say “no” to turning on music and let “the silence” permeate the ride home. They may not appreciate this but, if you are resolute and make it a routine, they will eventually use the quiet to recharge and transition for the next phase of their day.
Third: mealtimes are a fantastic opportunity to practice mindfulness with the family. You can start with a little prayer (no religion required). Encourage taking turns to speak with each other. You can make a quiet effort to be calm and present and whether they know it or not, your children will feel the quality of your awareness.
Lastly, when you express your genuine pleasure and gratitude for the meal, your kids get it at a gut level. It’s a great example for your children, and it can become part of your own daily practice as well.
Transforming Ordinary Moments
Another part of my children’s “mindfulness training” is this: I have always made it a point, no matter how busy we are, to stop and pay attention to the little things.
Even in a parking lot you can find a cute bug or an interesting tree. During trips to Target we always stop for a moment after getting out of the car. I let the children climb on the huge Target “red ball” that sits near the entrance and they laugh and enjoy. Sometimes people look at us, but we are too absorbed and happy to notice...fully present.
In this way you can transform ordinary moments if you stop and practice mindfulness. And the more you do it, the easier it gets.
When these special moments are strung together, your days and years become more meaningful and there is a timeless quality. For kids this is as natural as breathing. It can be for us too, when we practice.
Seeing the Fruits of Your Efforts
A small woodland lies next to the library where I take the children each week. On our many visits there over the years they run to climb the big trees, dumping their sacks filled with books on the grass. This ritual of stopping to connect with nature has become an event in itself. I like to sit on a bench as the children run and climb. Often I close my eyes and connect to my inner wellbeing feeling deep gratitude. Recently, when I looked up, I noticed my kids were also in a mindful moment under a tree...sitting in silence. After many years, it’s starting to look like all that mindfulness "training" is taking root and becoming their own!