Introducing Mindfulness to children – A sneak peek into everyday practices at home.
Mindfulness is all about recognising the present moment. Every action we perform can be mindful. Simple activities like drinking a cup of tea, spending time with our children, walking on stairs, eating or even sitting can be mindful.Introducing mindfulness to children is a very critical yet a vastly ignored area. When introduced early, the children experience improved concentration, joy and emotional stability.
Everyday Practices of mindfulness
Enjoying a meal in silence
Mealtimes are a great way of connecting with oneself but what if you ate a meal with the person you love in absolute silence? I started this practise very early in my daughter’s life. Actually, I stumbled upon this idea by accident. My daughter is a slow eater and constantly talks through the meal.
One day, I introduced the idea of a silent breakfast time to her. I offered her porridge in a bowl and asked her to eat while I sat next to her and ate my breakfast in silence. It was not easy at first as she would keep talking or mostly asking questions to me. But I was calm and ate my meal in silence. She realised that I was really serious with this idea of a silence meal. Slowly as time went by, she got into the habit of eating breakfast without talking. In fact, she told me she likes eating in silence. I call this mindful eating and early introduction of mindfulness practices in eating aides in promoting healthy eating as well.
Listening to the Bell
A bell has a significant place in Indian tradition. The sound of the bell makes us serene and grounded. During the Covid-19 lockdown, both my daughter and myself practised listening to the bell. If you have the Buddha bowl , ring it and concentrate on the sound till it fades away completely or alternatively, you could just close your eyes and enjoy the quietness that surrounds you. You could also fix a particular time in a day and set a timer for 3-5 minutes and just drop everything and watch your breath. Watch every in breath and out breath till the alarm rings. This was a rejuvenating exercise for us during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
Mindful reminders are small posters or painted stones that are handmade by you which carry a positive thought. They can be displayed in a special corner created in your child’s room. Since my daughter loves to paint, I usually ask her to make the background for the cards. I then write some positive message for the week and both of us arrange it on a table. It serves as a constant reminder of positivity in our lives. Every time we pass the special corner, we read the message and it makes us more grounded. You can also add your favourite quote to be displayed.
Hangout with your child
Children love to chill – why don’t you be that cool person they love to hangout with? Offer them your undivided attention. Mindfulness is all about being in the here and the now. Give your undivided attention and the child will reciprocate the same. Do something spontaneous and they will love you for that. Create a new game with silly rules, just cook, paint together, pamper yourselves or just talk or practise listening deeply to each other.
Breathing is something that we all do yet seldom concentrate on. once in a while my daughter and I practise breathing. My daughter loves to narrate / read a few lines that are pre-written with each in breath and out breath. It gets usually tailored according to the time of the day.
It can be as simple as :
Breath in I am calm
Breathing out I smile
Breath in I am a fresh flower / still lake
Breathing out I feel fresh / am clear
Breathing in I realise that I am angry / confused / sad
Breathing out it’s okay to feel anger / sad
Slow and mindful breathing like this makes one more grounded as well. whenever I feel exhausted or angry, I breathe in and out with these verses and I find that I feel better.
I Often find that it’s healing to embrace our feelings. Recognising and accepting our feelings are the first step in mindfulness. Breathing this way helps us also in controlling our emotions.
Watching Mother Nature
It is a common practise for us to visit the terrace every evening for our activities. We play with ball, water, bubbles or just draw with chalk. After our playtime we sit down to observe the sunset or just watch the birds / bats soar in the sky, watch them drink water from the bird bath or look at the clouds in the sky. We also sit and enjoy the breeze on our faces – the way it touches our face. All this has a calming effect on our minds. Watching mother nature and observing its infinite beauty increases the awe and respect for nature.
Let me know about your practices in the comment sections below. I would love to hear your innovative ways.