What is mindfulness?
Webster’s dictionary defines it as the quality or state of being mindful; the practice of maintaining a non-judgemental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.
While a good explanation, this definition doesn’t capture the true essence of what we believe mindfulness is, especially in the context of caring for children.
Mindfulness is our ability to attend to the present moment, with curiosity and kindness. It is our ability to pause, assess what is happening right in front of us, and respond with clarity, as opposed to reacting based on our (often unhelpful) habitual patterns. It is a willingness to be present, and to allow what is here to be here… because it’s already here! Extensive research has been done on this topic, and the overwhelming conclusion is that we are happier when we are present.
The problem that we are facing today is that most people have not been exposed to these skills earlier in life, and therefore wish that they had learned about it sooner. Teaching mindfulness to children from a young age is an invaluable skill that will help them navigate the challenges of childhood and adolescence.
How can mindfulness be taught?
The question then becomes, ‘what actual techniques can we practice and teach to children to help them develop mindfulness?’ Mindfulness can be practiced in a lot of different ways – there is no catch-all method or solution to achieving it. The key message behind this practice is to live in the present more. There is a tendency among people to go about their day on ‘auto-pilot’. This can be changed by paying attention to the smaller things and letting yourself feel how each unique situation affects you. Another key principle is to focus on what you are experiencing and feeling. Too often people only focus on the external things in life, rather than turning inward and reflecting on how the external things make you feel.
Some key outcomes that can be learned through practicing mindfulness:
- Non-judging: Become an impartial witness of your own attention
- Patience: Give yourself the space to have whatever experience occurs
- Trust: Trust yourself
- Letting go: Not letting yourself get caught up by emotions
These principles are vital to imprint onto children from as early as possible, to help prepare them for a life that will be filled with challenges and obstacles that will have to be confronted. By practicing mindfulness from an early age, future generations will be better prepared for dealing with those challenges without losing sight of what’s important.
Want to learn new techniques that will help to develop mindfulness in you and your child? Keep an eye on our Facebook page – We will continue to post articles and tips in the coming weeks!
- Smegen, I. (2018). Mindful at School.
- Killingsworth, M; Gilbert, D. (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind.