As adults, many of us are looking for ways to become more mindful in a world that is often fast-paced and stressful. By practicing mindfulness with your children, you’ll be equipping them with some incredible and useful tools that will serve them throughout their entire lives! (And that, as adults, they won’t have to search for...).
Not only will your children benefit from the following mindful practices, but you’ll also learn a lot about yourself whilst building a stronger connection with your children.Here are 9 ways to practice mindfulness with your little ones:
Pranayama is a fun and easy way to practice mindfulness with children. As well as being a great way to calm the nervous system, pranayama is a useful technique to use in all kinds of situations - to relax, to sleep, to focus, and to energize! Here’s a simple pranayama practice for children (and adults!).
- Sit in a comfortable position with the eyes open or closed and the hands relaxed on your knees.
- Breathe in through your nose and count to 4.
- Hold your breath and count to 4.
- Breathe out through your nose and count to 4.
- Hold again and count to 4.
You can gradually increase the amount of time that you practice as your child learns to enjoy it. Even if you only manage one round the first few times, that’s fine! Remember, it’s all about being mindful...so don’t push it, and follow your child’s lead.
After a while, you might like to set a 2-3 minute timer for your pranayama practice.
2. Wake Up Early
Nothing draws away from being mindful and intentional than a rushed morning routine! If your mornings feel more stressful and time-capped than they do slow and enjoyable, it might be time to start waking the family up a little earlier.
Try taking some time for yourself every morning by waking up before your children and spending 10-30 minutes setting an intention for your day, getting ready, and practicing mindfulness in any way that feels natural to you. Meditation, yoga, walking, pranayama, and journaling are all wonderful morning practices.
Following your own morning practice, wake your children up a little earlier than usual so that they have time to enjoy breakfast, look for lost shoes, get themselves ready for the day - all with lots of time for cuddles, conversation, and a great morning spent together.
3. Lead By Example
You are your child’s biggest teacher. And although that can feel a little scary, it can be something empowering! When we lead by example, our children begin to adopt our very best habits without even having to try.
Here are a few ways that you can lead by example, mindfully...
- Show your emotions - name them, talk about them, and show your children that it's ok tofeel an array of emotions.
- Take time for yourself - show your children the importance of respecting their own needsby respecting your own.
- Apologize - say ‘sorry’ if you shout or make a mistake, taking responsibility for your actions will help your children to tune into their own actions.
- Be intentional - go about your day slowly and meaningfully to show your children that there’s no need to rush.
- Listen - take the time to listen to your children and show interest in what they want to share with you, asking questions to encourage them to consider things deeply.
4. Spend Time in Nature
Spending time in nature is a wonderful way to heal and invite a little calm into your day.
Spend some time outside with your children, screen-free, and as moving as slowly as they would like to. Let them stop to look at things and ask questions about what they see. You might also like to draw their attention to certain sights and sounds to encourage them to notice their surroundings.
5. Allocate Screen Time
A little screen time doesn’t have to be a bad thing when used in the right way. Decide on what time and how long screen-time is allowed in your house on a day-to-day basis, making sure to involve your children in the decision so that they have some control too.
Pick a time, frequency, and length - that way, everyone will know what to expect when it comes to screen time and you’ll be more easily able to avoid screen-related arguments with your children. In turn, helping everyone to be a little more mindful!
Being away from screens is important in mindfulness, after all, it’s pretty difficult to be present when engrossed in your favorite TV show. Time away from screens will mean that your children have to tune into their needs to decide what it is that they want to do with their time.
6. Ask Questions
Asking your children questions that require a little consideration is a fun way to practice mindfulness.
You might like to ask them why they chose to use a particular color for their painting, or why birds can fly and we can’t. Get creative with your questions, ensuring that they’re age-appropriate, and watch as they start to think about a clever answer.
7. Encourage Children to Name Their Feelings
Big feelings can be incredibly overwhelming for children, which is why it’s so important to make friends with their emotions. A great way to do this is by naming how they feel. By giving your children a label that they can use to name their emotion, the emotion becomes a lot less scary and a lot more manageable.
After that, let your child know that it’s ok to feel this way and that you have big feelings too. You could even give an example of a time that you felt the same way.
Ask your children the following questions to help them become more mindful of their feelings: What happened to make you feel this way? What could we do right now to make you feel better?
Becoming more mindful doesn’t require a lifestyle makeover. Just pick one practice, implement it regularly, and then adopt a second practice when you’re ready. It’s all about slow, sustainable, and mindful steps.
Do you practice mindfulness with your children? We would love to hear all about it!