The benefits of Mindfuless for kids
Mindfulness is a very on trend word and we know everyone may have heard of it, but do you know what it actually is?
We have done a lot of research and reading into what we think mindfulness is, and there is no correct answer or description of mindfulness - everyone interprets things differently!
But! Our interpretation is that Mindfulness means paying full attention to something. It means slowing down to really notice what it is that you are doing. It’s the complete opposite to what we are used to in this hyper busy world with our minds racing, all the rushing around and the never-ending multitasking.
Being mindful means, you are taking your time. You're focusing in a relaxed and calm state.
All the research we have come across shows how powerful mindfulness is for everyone, but especially for kids because their brains and bodies are still developing!
The benefits of mindfulness for kids include;
- Improved self-regulation
- Increase in self-esteem
- Decrease worry and stress
- Improved social skills
- Healthier body image
- Easier concentration and focus
How have we applied mindfulness in our daily family lives
Improved self-regulation to us simply means being able to pause and think calmly before you act. Think of if your child was intentionally pushed off the playground. Your palms get sweaty, you can feel your body heat rising and your initial thought is "HOW DARE YOU push my child!" You want to act on this by going up and pushing that child over, however if you did that, you can imagine the consequences. Because as an adult we are able to regulate our emotions we are able to teach our kids how to react meaningfully by removing them from the situation and addressing and validating their feelings. This will empower them for their future.
Increase in self-esteem
Its known that many people struggle with a negative self image, both adults and children. We feel that it is vitally important to teach our children to be happy within themselves and to love themselves, however they are. As parents we all understand that how we view ourselves reflects onto how our kids view themselves, whether this is intentional or not.
One of my favourite quotes and the very first one I ever saved on Pinterest was a quote about Self Esteem:
'Parents need to fill up a child's bucket of self esteem so high that the rest of the world can't poke enough holes in it to drain it dry.'
I pinned this nearly 9 years ago as a mum of 1 and still to this day I always think about it and try to make it a priority. A simple way we do this daily is through Affirmations. We are teaching our kids to say these to themselves and to believe the words that they are saying. We have stayed consistent with these 4 affirmations 'I am Brave', 'I am Strong', 'I am Kind', 'I am Beautiful' and it helps them to overcome any negative thoughts and doubts as well as boost their self esteem. Its like anything, the more you tell yourself something the more you believe it.
Decrease worry and stress
When you practice Mindfulness consistently it helps to decrease worry and stress by keeping your child's baseline stress levels down. Ways we have found to do this is through creating consistent routines that incorporates mindfulness. For example with Brody - school going back is a big stressor so we have already started the day using his daily school chore chart. This helps him to know what to expect from the days ahead. We talk about it positively in the lead up and on the day we will do our heart routine, which is on our Instagram as a back to school reel.
We've also learnt to identify triggers or a change to the routine like school holiday, dads being away, events etc. Once we identify these we make sure we discuss them with the kids and talk about how they feel and ease their uncertainty. We will also do things like look at pictures, remind them of past times in which they have been brave and able to work through their worry.
The key for us has really been predictability and reassurance.
Improved communication skills
Mindfulness products, activities and exercises can help with improved social skills as they help your child get better in touch with their thoughts and feelings. And with that increased awareness of how they feel, means that they can become less emotionally reactive and better able to identify, listen and communicate more effectively. We have a feelings book at home with pictures of different emotions which we have found really helpful. Our kids are able to make an association much quicker visually.
You might feel like you are constantly doing these mindfulness practices without results, but we can certainly say that even though it doesn't happen every time, we have seen a massive difference in how our kids are able to communicate with eachother, especially about how they are feeling. It was only the other day that Jaz was talking to Brody and used the words 'I know that you are angry but it wasn't my fault, I was trying to help you' etc etc and it completely changed Brody's reaction. He also led with feelings and honestly we realised that they do understand and even if they don't practice it in all moments, they are taking it in and they are learning how to communicate in a much calmer way! Winning!
Healthier body image
Like most mums body image is something that weighs heavily on our minds. With the world going the way that it is and technology / social media consuming so much of our life, it can be hard to maintain a positive image of yourself not to mention impressionable children. It's something which we work really hard on with the kids and ourselves to reassure us that every 'body' is incredible. It's been a rule in my house, that its completely unacceptable for any of us to talk about ourselves or anyone with words like 'fat' and 'ugly'. These are considered so much worse than an FBomb and in instances where it has happened, we have sat down as a family and discussed the impact of words and write down words that can be used instead of those.
I use a toothpaste analogy with my kids. Once you squeeze a tube of toothpaste you can never put it back it- much like our words, once they are said, you cant take them back.
Easier concentration and focus
The more you do something the better you get at it, and that is so true in being fully present and focussing on what you are doing. A way in which we practice this with this kids is through a breathing exercise. We get one of the kids favourite toys and put it on their tummy. Then we pop the timer on and I say breathe in and out (in my best yoga instructor voice). We then watch it rise and fall which is just a simple way for them to be able to concentrate on each breath.