Mindfulness is not only for adults. But it is also suitable for children. Mindfulness is inherent in everyone. Learning mindfulness early can help children manage and work with the stress they have at school and with friends. It helps when they undergo hormonal changes. Mindfulness practice also helps to cultivate patience and resilience in your child. It could be a valuable tool for them to manage difficult situations. Mindfulness exercises with family help everyone practice together since, besides school and work, the next place we spend the most time is at home.
Here are some mindful exercises you can do with your family.
The best exercise to do before bed time is the exercise of gratitude. Encourage your children to have a notebook to jot down things they are thankful for for the day. Get a notebook for yourself and do this exercise with your kids.
Sit down with your children after dinner and share with them three things you are grateful today. If you start, it will help your children open up to your world, and in turn you can learn about their day.
It may be hard for your children to be appreciative because they might be hampered by difficult emotions from challenging situations. You could start the exercise by asking your kids how their day has been. Also, if they experienced any difficulties? If they did, it is important to listen to them and acknowledge their feelings. We have been too used to sweeping our emotions under the rug. This exercise helps them open up and understand their feelings.
After the sharing, you can ask your children if they could find anything to appreciate or feel grateful for. If they have difficulties, you can help them with the exercise. You can share and encourage your children to think of good things that have happened to them everytime they face difficulties.
This helps your children, as well as yourself, to remember to balance the mind that not only bad things happen to us, but good things too. We tend to put too much weight on the bad things and forget the good.
Sitting meditation is a difficult mindfulness exercise for children because they have a short attention span. But you don’t need to get your kids to sit down for long periods. Just have fun with this exercise using a reward system.
You can do this exercise of sitting by placing attention on the breath rising and falling in the abdomen for three to five minutes every morning sitting cross-legged on the floor. You could reward your kids with their favorite breakfast. Or give them extra 5 minutes extra a day to do what they enjoy.
Using breath as an exercise for mindfulness with family helps everyone, especially children to build focus and attention. There are just too many opportunities for distraction now. Doing breath meditation together as a family helps everyone to learn to pause and respond better in stressful situations.
Another mindfulness exercise to do with the family is the friendliness exercise. You can start by getting your children to sit with you, either on a chair together or on the floor cross-legged.
First, get them to close their eyes and take a few relaxing breaths focusing on the breath entering from the nostrils to the abdomen (like the breath exercise) with their eyes closed. Focus in a relaxed way on the rising and falling of the abdomen for a minute to calm the mind. Then ask your children to think of someone whom they look up to, who they feel appreciative of.
As they think of this person, let your kids know to send kind wishes to this person, and focus on the warm feeling in their heart. Kind wishes can be something simple such as, “May you be well and happy.” Then, ask your children to bring up an image of someone they feel neutral about. You could ask your kids to think about whether this neutral person has any stress and happiness as they do. Also, send a kind wish to this person.
Lastly, gently ask your kids to bring to mind a difficult person they have faced before. Again, ask them to think if the person they dislike too suffer happiness and unhappiness. You could also ask them to reflect if the person they dislike have people who loves them? Then, send a kind wish to this difficult person.
When they friendliness exercise is over, you can ask your kids how they feel. If they have difficulty sending kind wishes to everyone. It is okay if they found it hard to send kind wishes to someone they dislike. It is not necessary to be good in all the mindfulness exercises. Rather, it is an opportunity for the family to share and practice mindfulness, bond and understand emotions.
Mindfulness is more fun when practiced with the family. Mindful Breath offers group practices for mindfulness online. We can customize the practice to fit your schedule, get in touch with us.