Mindfulness in Children

Where to start in raising more mindful kids

Posted Sep 25, 2015

The most precious gift we can give anyone is our attention.
When mindfulness embraces those we love, they bloom like flowers.
Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Meditation Teacher

So what’s the big whoop about mindfulness? Your son or daughter can certainly pay attention if they want too like when they’re immersed in a game of Minecraft or creating an Origami duck so that’s not the problem. But how do you motivate them to pay attention at other times? And why do it when life is jam packed already? I’ll tell you the simple answer: Happiness.

The Science of Mindfulness

Over and over again studies reveal that children that participate in mindfulness programs (in or out of classroom) are happier boys and girls. They develop a capacity to become calm, and remember it like an old friend when troubles arise. One of my 7 year-old clients uses deep breaths when she begins to feel overwhelmed, and then counts to 10 before acting on her emotions, which is great progress because initially she came to me for hitting a kid (yikes!). Now Samantha even tells her mom in LA traffic, “Momma, I think you need to use the breaths” and her mom agrees.

Scientists who study mindfulness point to the fact that meditation, deep breaths, and other mindful exercises actually change the physiology of the brain. Instead of children that have knee-jerk reactions to their anger, frustration and upset --- we’re raising more and more children to respond to life from a calmer place (most of the time). Of course, no one is perfect but progress is possible for most children.

Starting Today

Our children oftentimes respond quickly to life. And sometimes their responses are less than stellar so helping them slow down, and take a mindful breath before responding is a good starting point. It helps them create a wee bit of calm and let-go of their frustration before reacting. Some helpful breathing exercises are:

  • Hot Soup Breath – Take air in your nose, and blow it out your mouth like you’re cooling a hot soup. Usually a minimum of 5 hot soup breaths are needed. (The slower the better)
  • Belly Breathing – Put one hand on your heart, and one on your tummy. Take a deep breath in for a count of 1-2-3, and out 1-2-3. Repeat at least 3 x and feel calmer.

If we can get our children to slow down, create calmness, and then respond to life from that place they’re on the way to becoming more mindful. It’s really one step or breath at a time.

By Maureen Healy

Maureen D. Healy is an award-winning author, popular speaker and healer helping highly sensitive kids thrive globally. Currently, she’s completing a mindfulness based book for highly sensitive children to be released in 2016. More info: www.highlysensitivekids.com or @mdhealy