How to Raise Mindful Children in a Digital World
What can parents do to help their children experience mindfulness?
Posted Feb 04, 2013
In a previous post, I asked the question: “Is technology making your children mindless instead of mindful?” I think it’s safe to say that it is incredibly difficult for children to be mindful, present, and calm in our culture that is now dominated by the constant flow of information.
Yet, if you want your children to be truly happy, you must give them opportunities to experience mindfulness. In this crazy new world of technology, what a wonderful lifelong gift you give your children when you help them to, paraphrasing a well-known adage from the 1960s counterculture movement, to “turn off and tune in.” You do this by creating regular opportunities for your children to disconnect from technology.
You can start by looking at your children’s lives and seeing all the times when they’re “mindless,” meaning they’re being overwhelmed by information, distracted, and drawn outside of themselves. You will likely find that this state of mind dominates their daily lives.
Next, look for times in your children’s days in which they have opportunities to be mindful, but aren’t. Examples include when they’re doing their homework, at meals, out for a walk, exercising, or just having family time.
Then, work with your children to help them create situations in which they can be mindful. You might not even want to use the word mindful as it carries connotations that might make it unattractive to your children. Instead, you can talk to them about being present, focused, or fully engaged in whatever they’re doing, and describe the many benefits it has to offer. For example, you can ask your children not to multitask while they’re doing homework (after explaining how multitasking is both ineffective and inefficient for studying). You can also have a rule of no media, answering phone calls, or responding to text messages at the dinner table.
Finally, you can create family opportunities that allow for and reinforce the value of mindfulness including having no-technology days on weekends, organizing deeply engaging events, such as camping trips, or reading uninterrupted with your children. Importantly, you want to role model mindfulness by practicing it in your own life, so you can apply the same exercises that I just described to yourself. Taking active steps to create mindfulness in the lives of your entire family is a win-win-win situation. Your children learn to be in the moment and are, as a result, more successful and happier. Being more mindful yourself, you will be a better person, spouse, and parent. Lastly, your family will be less stressed, more harmonious, and more fully engaged in being a family.