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Can we teach mindfulness to children?

A child’s imagination is naturally active. Many thoughts pop into their heads every day. Sometimes, they find it difficult to focus because their mind seems to drift from one thing to the next. And because of these very natural tendencies, some children become anxious, fearful, or stressed.

Mindfulness is a tool that children can also use to calm down or slow down, to be more aware of their surroundings, and to eventually manage their emotions and face challenges. Researchers have found that mindfulness offers benefits not only to adults but also to children and teens.

Learning to be present

It is as simple as noticing the present, and being fully aware of what is happening around oneself. Sometimes, because of all the noise and distractions around us, we fail to notice these very simple things. Mindfulness reminds us and teaches us to pay attention. It’s also the same way with children.

There are various strategies used in teaching kids how to be more mindful. One important thing to remember is that it’s always good to start them young. Mindfulness can be taught via games and fun activities. And as with any form of behavior, children can pick up on it faster if the adults around them are also doing it.

Benefits for kids

Mindfulness can help children relax and stay calm. As a result, they will most likely be able to control their behavior and lessen their anxiety or stress. For example, if they know how to pay attention to the present (now), they will be able to notice a negative thought and catch it early before it does any damage.

Mindfulness also helps with improving a child’s attention span. As a result, they do learn better and are able to build self-esteem and confidence. Children who practice mindfulness can enjoy better mental health and an improved quality of life overall.

Many schools have adopted mindfulness programs for their students. Data shows that these schools that teach mindfulness report fewer discipline problems and better engagement from their pupils.

Music and a worksheet

Here are a couple of examples of the strategies being used to teach mindfulness to children. There are many others but since our space is limited, we can only briefly discuss two: music and a worksheet for the present moment.

There are many mindfulness music online. Choose one that can help children relax and stay peaceful. While listening to the music, we can teach them to count their breaths, for example, counting the inhale and the exhale as one, and so on

The worksheet for the present moment is a simple tool that begins by instructing the child to sit quietly and pay attention to his or her surroundings using the five senses. And then, the child can complete the five statements after his or her reflection: “Right now I see/hear/smell/feel/taste…”.

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