Mindfulness for Kids: Why they need it and what can be done to improve it

Today, life can be equated with a turbulent boat on which you are the sailor. Needs are pressing and the obstacles are mounting; only with true control of the swaying boat, can you assure yourself a smooth sail. Our children are no strangers to this whirlpool called modern life. To thrive and propel in such times, mindfulness for kids is vital.

Courtesy: Giphy.com

We can all agree that the challenges of today’s competitive world require us to be more mentally present for the numerous activities than ever before.

(Disclaimer: This blog might be a little long, but I promise you it’s worth sticking through)

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is our ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing.

In 4 words, mindfulness means “To Be Mentally Present”.

Mindfulness
Courtesy: Pocket Mindfulness

Relevancy of Mindfulness for Children

Our kids today are expected to be equipped to face gargantuan challenges in their academic and personal lives. With growing expectations, anxiety and exhaustion follow suit.

We all have seen and experienced the following situations:

  • Lack of focus in the job at hand
  • Decreasing appetite and energy levels
  • A general apathetic approach to life
  • Deteriorating social skills
  • Unexplained fatigue and irritability
  • Constant running out of gas

To tackle these worrisome realities from taking over their mind space, the scope of mindfulness arises for our kids.

Mindfulness is elevated by connections in the prefrontal circuits in our brain, which are created at their fastest rate during childhood.

As parents that come across this concept, we often have the same question of “what’s in store for our kids?”.

What to expect from mindfulness practice for our children?

Experts state that such practices build the five pillars that in turn serve as the foundation for any other skills that our kids will go on to imbibe. These are:

  1. Focus and inner strength
  2. Cognitive control
  3. Self-Regulation
  4. Judgement and Reasoning
  5. Patience and Empathy

These learnings help our kids make more sense of their inner and outer experience and build an understanding of everything that encompasses their world.

How can the kids practice it?

Research shows mindfulness for kids brings positive effects on their mental health and well-being.

Teaching mindfulness to children and adolescents is a growing trend as part of therapy and as part of the curriculum in schools.

There are numerous ways that our kids can be guided to be more mindful.

These include meditation, rhythmic breathing, expressing gratitude, and practising self-love. However, mindfulness is a very personal experience and is highly subjective.

Today there are several meditation apps, like that of Andy Puddicombe’s Headspace app that help you jump start on the journey of mindfulness

Much like science, it comes with the development of an aptitude. This aptitude, when met with compassion and reasoning, goes on to develop the five pillars that I earlier mentioned.

Significance of mindfulness for kids

Most working adults today crave a sense of being at peace with themselves and their surroundings. Over time, we all have realised that this serenity is not something that can be carted overnight.

With the adoption of mindfulness, you tend to become more aware of your thoughts, emotions and physical feelings. Now simply imagine the understated power of such awareness in our young kids. Through practise it will:

  • Help them notice when they get caught up in negative thoughts so that they can manage them
  • Make them aware of the effect that thoughts or events have on their body, so that they can look after themselves better
  • Empower them to make a choice about how they respond to their thoughts and feelings
  • Engrain in them the truism that thoughts come and go and that does not have to define who they are or what their experience of the world is
  • Aid them to truly appreciate the bounty and shortcomings of everything around them

It is a conscious journey that must be embarked on early in life for it to have a lasting impact. For our innate responses to be mindful, it needs to be a part of our system.

Some people may even go on to say that mindfulness as a practice is the only skill we can leave behind as an asset for the further generations to embrace.

If today’s children look to be knowledgeable and technically sound to create a better tomorrow, we must hand them the true reins of their lives and the adoption of such practices is a step in that direction.

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