Want to bring mindfulness into your life with kids? My suggestion would be to try it out yourself first, really become familiar with it, establish your own practice, THEN share it with the kids in your life. Dr. Amy Salesman, in her book Still Quite Place, says, The only “goal” of mindfulness is to be with that is, internally and externally.
The benefits of mindfulness are endless. Being able to bring your attention to the present moment and to witness what IS, is a powerful change agent in life. Not only does it allow you to begin to process all of the experiences within and around you, but it also establishes a deeper relationship within you, from you to you. From this, the ability to connect with others in an authentic, present way, is born and blossoms. Bring this connection to your interaction with your child, and you have the makings of a strong, centered, stable relationship that can weather the ups and downs of life with more ease and grace. It builds the brain muscles that allow us to respond to our environment rather than to react.
Being mindful always shifts my energy toward calmness, but it can also shift things externally as well. The other day I spent the morning accompanying a third grade boy who had not earned a class reward. He was required to complete work while the class got the reward. While this might be a bit difficult for any child to adjust to, this particular little boy has had a rough start to life. His mom was fifteen at the time he was born. Shortly thereafter, due to his mother’s drug addiction, he went to live with his father who experiences frequent incidents of homelessness. He often presents defensive, oppositional, having high need for attention and a persistent need to be in control. Totally understandable, given his life experience. So, on this day, he was very sad because he had not earned the reward.
I arrived and immediately set my intention to practice mindfulness, to be present, attentive, and connected during the two hours we were together. I brought in mindful listening and asked him to tell me about what happened. I looked at him and commented on how well he was adjusting to the situation. I reflected what he was telling me back to him. Next, I brought mindful attention to the spelling list, to each letter. Our task was to write a list in alphabetical order. I moved at a slow, mindful, steady pace. I playfully asked him questions as he completed the work. I wrote the words myself along side him. He would write one, then I would write it on my paper. I engaged him in teaching me what he was learning by asking lots of questions. Then, I brought mindful presence to our recess time as he played on the swings. I grabbed a swing too. Drawing in mindful listening, I asked him if he could hear the different squeaks that our swings made. I commented on his foot placement as he climbed the rock wall. We kicked the ball together. Then, we shared the mindful taste at snack time. I asked him how his pineapple yogurt tasted, asked him what he liked about it, the texture, the flavor, etc. I brought mindful sight to the rattle snake homework, asking him about each feature of the snake in the wikipedia photos.
During our time together, he cheerfully connected with me. I could feel his body relax and his energy shift into joyful animation, away from the initial sad disappointment. I felt the transformative power of bringing my mindful attention to him and to each task we completed together.
Presence and the ability to bring your attention into the present moment to really see, hear, and honor what is happening is very healing. I encourage you to try it out for small moments each day as you interact with your child and see what you notice and experience.
I’ve written a very brief review of a few of my favorite kids mindfulness resources. Explore, find what resonates with you, but, most of all ENJOY the mindful journey.
Books For Kids
What Does It Mean To Be Present? by Rana DiOrio
I loved this book. Beautiful illustrations and simple text that invites you into mindful reading with it’s clarity and simplicity. Clearly describes some examples of what mindfulness is and what it isn’t. Great introductory too.
Take The Time by Maud Roegiers
Mindfulness For Kids! Ebook by Tracy Bryan
Gorgeous real life photos of children. Guides children through questioning to tune within to their bodies and to truly listen to what the body has to say. Kidsrelaxation is listed in the resource section. What a wonderful honor!!
Meditation Is An Open Sky Mindfulness for Kids (Book or Ebook format) by Whitney Stewart
Encourages kids to “watch their feelings” as they come up. Creative, beautiful illustrations and wonderfully engaging mindfulness activities. Helps kids with focus, wisdom, creating feelings of safety, relaxation, kindness, clarity, decision-making, emotional regulation, and calmness. It’s an awesome addition to my mindfulness library!
Books For Therapists/Educators/Parents
A Still Quiet Place: A Mindfulness Program for Teaching Children and Adolescents to Ease Stress and Difficult Emotions by Amy Saltzman, MD
This book is an excellent resource! Not only does it do a wonderful job at describing what mindfulness is and isn’t, but it also provides the practitioner with detailed information as to the qualifications necessary to teach mindfulness to children and adolescents. Activities are organized and differentiated by developmental levels. Engaging lesson plans included which provide the perfect ready-made curriculum for those trained in teaching mindfulness. If you are just getting started as a practitioner, this book is the perfect place to start, providing ideas for training, background information, and ways to establish your own mindfulness practice before sharing it with others.
Mindfulness Skills For Kids & Teens, A Workbook for Clinicians & Clients with 154 Tools, Techniques, Activities & Worksheets by Debra Burdock
Another wonderful resource, this book synthesizes the work of many practitioners and provides worksheets, handouts, and other tools for use with key mindfulness techniques. I liked how mindfulness techniques were divided into categories such as breath, present moment, listening, thoughts, the various senses (seeing, tasting, touching, etc.), emotions, relationships, and many more. It talks about how to practice mindfulness in different settings, such as at home or at school. There are a multitude of resources here. Check it out!
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