It’s a great idea for parents to promote mindfulness within their family unit, to improve their child’s ability to stay present and avoid anxious thoughts. Mindfulness is a form of meditation that is becoming increasingly more popular, as it allows a person to feel less stressed and cope with problems more efficiently. A pre-school in New York have put together the following advice to help parents explore mindfulness with their children.
It’s actually a lot easier than it sounds; mindfulness can be practised with almost everything we do, from taking a shower to eating an apple. The idea behind it is to pay closer attention to the present moment as it is happening, rather than letting our experiences flash by with the blink of an eye. Encourage your child to think and talk about their experiences by asking them questions about how they are feeling in that moment. Which of their senses are being stimulated? Would they like to repeat the experience in the future or avoid it? Why do they think it made them feel the way it did? This applies to both physical and mental responses to a situation, both positive and negative.
As an example, you could go out for a walk in the park and talk to your child about what they can see, feel, hear, smell or even taste. Encourage them by suggesting some examples, like the leaves crunching beneath your feet, the cool breeze on your skin or the birds singing in the distance.
Help your child recognise negative thoughts, like when they’re nervous or anxious. Ask them if feeling that way has prompted any physical changes in their body, like increased heart rate, sweaty palms or shaking. Encourage them to come back to the present by asking them “Are you in any danger right at this very moment?” or “Will this problem still be a problem in an hours’ time or tomorrow?” This will help bring them back to the safety and comfort of the present moment, which isn’t usually as bad as it first seems.