The latest psychological research shows great promise in the benefits of mindfulness for mental health, including better focus, less emotional reactivity, more satisfying relationships, and reduced stress. Because of this, many people are adding mindful activities such as meditation and yoga into their routines. 

As a parent, you may wish to help your child learn mindfulness. Fortunately, children are naturally inclined towards living in the present moment, and by teaching them intentionality around mindfulness, you will set them up with a skill that will benefit them for a lifetime. 

Become More Mindful Yourself

Teaching any skills you don’t have yourself is near impossible. Imagine teaching your child how to ride a bike when you’ve never even set foot on a pedal! If you’re trying to raise a mindful child, teach by example. Try setting aside five minutes a day strictly for mindfulness, whether you practice meditation with an app or simply sit and notice your breath. 

Let Go of Expectations

It’s easy to think that teaching your children to be more mindful will be the solution to all your parenting problems. They’ll stop throwing tantrums, be calm at the dinner table, and your house will be quiet for once. 

A central idea behind mindfulness is letting go of expectations. Will your child become calmer through mindfulness? That may be a side effect, but this isn’t the true purpose. By becoming more mindful, your child can become more aware of their experiences, both internally and externally. They may be able to see their thoughts as just thoughts, understand how emotions manifest physically, notice when their attention has strayed from the task at hand, and learn greater impulse control. 

However,this won’t stop them from being loud, whining, arguing, or roughhousing. Mindfulness will never get rid of what is simply normal kid behavior. Let go of these expectations and you will both be happier for it. 

Keep it Simple

Know your audience. Depending on their age, your child may have a hard time wrapping their head around the idea of mindfulness. You may try using “awareness” or “noticing” things instead. For example, you might prompt your six year old to “notice” their emotions, what they hear, what they’re thinking, or what they feel in their body when something is happening. As they get older, you can teach them more about why mindfulness matters, but keep it simple for now. 

Use Mindfulness at Bedtime

A great way to calm kids before bed and introduce them to mindfulness is to incorporate it into their bedtime routine. Try walking them through a body-scan meditation before bed. Have them lay in bed and close their eyes, then tell them to pay attention to their toes, their feet, their legs, etc. This is a very calming way for them to get in touch with their body before sleeping. It may even help them get to sleep faster at night. You can also download a calming bedtime meditation for them.

Teach Emotional Check-Ins

Periodically throughout the day, have everyone in the family do a check in to see how they’re feeling inside. In Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) by Eline Snel, Snel encourages children to use the weather as an analogy for how they are feeling — sunny, rainy, thunderstorm, etc. You can use this model to have your kids describe what they’re feeling to you. 

Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is an important part of mindfulness, and has many benefits for your child on its own. Teaching your child to practice gratitude can ground them in the present moment. Try teaching your children to say one thing they are grateful for every day, whether that’s around the dinner table or right before bed. 

Mindfulness is a fantastic skill that we foster here at our Montessori preschool in Leesburg. To learn more about how our Montessori program may benefit your child, contact us today!