Life can easily become challenging and stressful making people feel overwhelmed, even our children are experiencing these uncomfortable situations. Kidshealth.org explains stress as “a function of the demands placed on us and our ability to meet them. These demands often come from outside sources, such as family, jobs, friends, or school. But it also can come from within, often related to what we think we should be doing versus what we’re actually able to do.”
Any person who feels overwhelmed can be affected by stress and anxiety. For example, a child of preschool age may experience separation anxiety when being dropped off by their parent, for a day at preschool.
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us” -mindful.org
By supporting children to recognise their emotions and teaching mindfulness, we are sharing with them, life-long skills which can be utilised during uncomfortable or challenging moments. The earlier we practice mindfulness with young children, is greater the opportunity to develop their resilience and ability to embed mindfulness practice in their everyday life.
There is growing evidence that mindfulness training improves emotional regulation skills (Baer et al 2009; Carmody et al 2009).
Teaching mindfulness requires practice and modelling, parents, caregivers, teachers, and educators must invest in these techniques personally to make a lasting impact on the lives of young children. Commit to developing your own mindfulness practice that suits you and your child/children best, take a meditative walk, or practice yoga, just 5 minutes a day can be life changing.
Yoga is a set of stretches or exercises, combined with breathing techniques and meditation principles. Yoga not only helps to develop children’s strength and flexibility of body and mind, but it serves as a tool for teaching self-awareness, mindfulness, and stress-relief.
Meditation is both a skill and an experience that can positively impact your overall health and happiness. Meditation can involve sitting in quiet and paying attention to the body and thoughts.
Yoga and meditation activities should be simple, repetitive and allow children to be noisy, messy, and wiggly. If you want children to participate, the experience must be a fun and playful activity.
Below there is a list of activities that can help children build their ability to practise mindfulness, allow them to practice inside or in nature and encourage them to explore their senses.
- Drawing and colouring enables children to focus and express themselves creatively
- Listening to music provides the opportunity to pay attention to the here and now, children are provided with the opportunity to identify the different instruments and listen to song lyrics
- Walking through nature, playing eye spy or exploring the wide variety of textures and scents in the natural environment, this is also a great way to encourage children’s connection with nature
- Make a garden, plant your very own vegetables, if this is not possible, try contributing to a community garden in your local area
“Gardening activities like digging, shovelling, and playing with soil can provide instant gratification for your mind. Focusing on an activity like this can be a great distraction from feelings of anxiety and can produce a rewarding end result. It helps to ‘stay in the moment’ and appreciate the process.”
Dr. Lyndal Plant, Urban Forester
If you don’t feel confident enough to create your own mindfulness program using yoga or meditation. The following resources are there to support you.
Websites and Apps