Raising calm, happy, confident kids is easier said than done. Social pressures, school-related stress, and activity burnout all contribute to anxieties that our children shouldn’t have to deal with. At such a young age, children should be care-free — exploring the world around them, learning, and having fun.
If your child is struggling with stress, anxiety, chronic worrying, or related symptoms, mindfulness is a practice that can help.
What Is Mindfulness in Simple Terms?
It can be difficult to define mindfulness in just one sentence. There are simply too many definitions out there. For kids, however, it’s best to simplify the definition as much as possible.
If you’d like to explain what mindfulness is to your child, we invite you to use a definition such as this one:
When you are mindful, you put all of your attention and focus on what is happening right now, at this exact moment.
You don’t think about what you had for breakfast this morning or the funny thing you said to your friends earlier in the day. You don’t think about the homework you’ve got to do later this evening or how you’re looking forward to the weekend.
With mindfulness, you do nothing else but focus on the moment that is happening right now. To do this, you can use many different techniques. For example, you can focus on your breathing, notice each and every thought that crosses your mind, or say a “mantra” (favourite phrase) to yourself.
Why Do Kids Need Mindfulness?
Approximately 4.4 million American children aged 3-17 have diagnosed anxiety.
If you’re wondering what are the benefits of mindfulness for kids, here are just a few you can expect. Meditation for kids can:
1. Help them avoid distractions
Kids are often easily distracted. Mindfulness improves focus. This allows them to complete tasks more efficiently and with greater overall ease.
2. Promote joy
Mindfulness allows kids to open their hearts and minds, which naturally promotes more joy and happiness.
3. Teach them how to deal with stress
Often, kids head into their teenage and young adult years without the tools they need to handle stress.
Mindfulness is a fantastic practice to help handle stressful times because it slows down your mind and body at the same time. By focusing only on the present moment, rumination isn’t possible. Furthermore, if you can harness and calm your thoughts, you can also slow your heartrate and reduce heavy, fast breathing and other physical symptoms of stress.
4. Foster peace and calm at home
Lastly, as a parent, teaching your children mindfulness can help you keep your home calmer and more peaceful. That’s because children who understand and practice mindfulness regularly tend to be more relaxed. They can cope with stressors and challenging situations much better. This can help release the pressure valve in an otherwise stressful household, calming fights before bed or naptime, lessening trouble at the dinner table, and limiting other snafus that frequently come with parenting.
Tips for Teaching Kids Mindfulness
"Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor." — Thich Nhat Hanh
Sharing mindfulness with your children can be a great way to connect positively and help them achieve a calmer state of mind.
Here are some tips for helping your children learn mindfulness:
Promote mindfulness as a tool for difficult feelings and emotions
As adults, we know how difficult controlling our emotions and feelings can be. But we also know we’re a lot better at it than we were when we were kids. When you’re young, strong emotions like fear, worry, and anger can come on like insurmountable tsunamis, and it can seem like there’s no way out.
Teaching mindfulness to your child can help them learn that difficult feelings and emotions don’t have to automatically be in charge. With mindful breathing and practice focusing on just one thing, your child can learn to harness their thoughts and let worry and anxiety float away.
Incorporate physical activity
Especially active kids will benefit from incorporating physical activity with mindfulness. After all, even for adults, it can be difficult to sit in mindful meditation. To practice mindfulness while being active, go for a mindful walk, play a silent game of ping pong, or try some mindful yoga together.
Use mindfulness techniques to explore nature
Nature is the perfect place to practice mindfulness. For example, you can go for a mindful hike, do some mindful gardening, or just sit in a beautiful spot and do a bit of mindfulness meditation.
Show them that you practice mindfulness too
Practicing what you preach when it comes to mindfulness is key.
To get started with your own mindfulness training, try our simple and quick Unwind Your Mind session. You’ll stream live with a professional meditation instructor who can help you relax, reset, and learn the basics of mindfulness in just 25 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mindfulness for Kids
Q: Is mindfulness meditation good for kids?
A: Yes! Mindfulness is the perfect activity for kids of any age, no matter their personalities or interests. Teaching your child mindfulness can help them throughout their lives. It teaches them how best to deal with stress, how to concentrate on one task, and how to enjoy the present moment without ruminating on the past or future.
Q: What activities support mindfulness?
A: You can do any activity with mindfulness. For example, you can sweep the floor, weed the garden, or clean your bedroom with mindfulness. All you need to do to be mindful while doing another task is to focus on what you’re doing and try not to let your mind wander to the future or past. A good way to do this is to note each and every movement you make and every thought that crosses your mind. Describe to yourself what you are doing in explicit detail. In moments when you’re not doing anything or not moving at all, simply focus on your breath.
Q: What are mindfulness skills?
A: Just like math, reading, or playing the guitar, learning mindfulness is a skill. You can learn how to practice mindfulness (and get better at it) through repetition. Practicing every day is the best way to attain the skill of mindfulness.
With Mindfulness Practice, Kids Should Start Young
If you’ve used mindfulness to improve your own life, you already know this practice’s amazing benefits. Teaching your children the practice at an early age can help them grow into mindfulness and use it throughout their lives.
Where to start? Try our Unwind Your Mind streaming service. Through personalized instruction, your child can learn to use breathing and mindful focus to slow down frantic thinking and anxiety.
Mindfulness is a tool anyone can take advantage of, but the Unwind Your Mind service is unique to Anahana. Try it with your child today and start to see positive benefits right away.
Download Your Mindfulness for Kids Infographic!
Written by Clint Johnson
Clint teaches Yoga, Pilates, breathe, and mediation to students and teachers all over the world. Prior to joining the wellness world, CJ as his friends call him, started his career as a MBS derivative trader and portfolio manager on Wall St. Clint is the founder of Anahana, and holds an MBA from INSEAD.