The Importance And Simplicity Of Raising Mindful Kids10:11 AM
The connection between meditation and mental health is clear. Learning how to teach kids mindfulness techniques and raising mindful kids are the new black.
Mindfulness Now, Better Mental Health Later
As our world continues to prove to be tricky to maneuver, mindfulness and meditation continue to rise as vital skills for both adults and children. On VProud, there is an amazing mindfulness video and conversation about how to raise mindful kids. And below, mother, teacher, and Executive Director of Brilliant Mindfulness, a company dedicated to offering mindfulness programs that help children regulate emotional stress, Sarah Rudell Beach reflects on the video with a very important point: Exactly how do we teach kids to be mindful? Sarah's two-step mindfulness teaching lesson plan is simple, poignant, and something that we can all start today. We love it and think that you will, too.
—The VProud Team
By Sarah Rudell Beach for VProud
Several years ago, in response to a temper tantrum, I, probably not very calmly, instructed my daughter to “Just breathe!”
“I DON’T KNOW HOW!!” was my six-year-old’s response.
I was shocked – how does she not know how to breathe?? She’s been doing it for years!
I’ve come to realize that we tell our kids to do a lot of things that we think are self-explanatory – “Pay attention!” “Calm down!” “Breathe!”
But do we ever actually teach them HOW to do those things?
The ability to regulate our emotions, and the capacity to direct our attention where we want it when we want it, are teachable skills. As parents and teachers, we have an amazing opportunity to provide children with the tools and practices they need to calm themselves down when they are upset. How wonderful would it be if we all taught our children how to just breathe?
That’s why I love the short film Just Breathe. Those kids in that video know a lot more about their brains than a lot of adults do! Teaching children about their brains and bodies and nervous systems is empowering. Kids can begin to understand that when they get triggered into anger, it’s not their fault – it’s their amygdala and their threat-detection system warning them that something in their environment needs their attention.
And while those big emotions are not their fault, it IS their responsibility to be able to respond to them in a way that doesn’t harm themselves or others.
This is why teaching mindfulness to children is so valuable. Mindfulness is our ability to pay attention to the present moment, with compassion and without judgment. When we can observe what’s happening with clear awareness and understanding, we can respond skillfully, instead of reacting based on our ingrained habits.
And one of the simplest ways to cultivate mindfulness and awareness is through mindful breathing. We’ve all experienced the calming effects of a slow, deep, and intentional breath. So let’s teach kids to breathe!
Two Simple Practices to Teach Mindful Breathing to Kids
1. What does your breath feel like?
Just telling a child (or even an adult!) to “breathe” is a bit abstract. Instead, ask, “What does your breath feel like? Can you feel it in your nose? What does it feel like in your tummy?”
We’re really asking them to pay attention to their breathing. Can they notice if one breath feels different than the one before? Do they notice if their body feels any different after taking a few deep breaths?
2. Balloon Breathing
Stand up and put your hands (palms down) on the top of your head. As you breathe in, reach your arms up into a circle above your head (expanding the balloon.) As you breathe out, lower your hands back to the top of your head (deflating the balloon). Repeat as many times as needed!
About the author: Sarah Rudell Beach is a teacher, writer, mother, and mindfulness ambassador! She is passionate about sharing the gift of mindful living with little people AND big people -- children and parents, students and teachers -- so that we all may lead joyful and compassionate lives. She is the Executive Director of BrilliantMindfulness, and lives in Minneapolis with her husband, son, and daughter. Join Sarah's honest conversations on VProud.
Join This Honest Conversation
|Setting up for emotional success: Children practicing mindfulness now are bound for better mental health in the future.|