Kids and Mindfulness

Caroline Wilson, M.Ed., FMHC
 You may be thinking that kids and mindfulness are not two things that naturally go together. But as anxiety continues to become an epidemic for our children and teens, we must find ways to help them make mindfulness a part of their lives.

So, what is mindfulness? 

A great definition by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction describes it well:

 Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally. 

Stopping, paying attention, and noticing what’s happening around you, and everything you’re feeling, thinking and doing in that particular moment with honesty and without judgment is being mindful.  Sounds easy enough, right?

Actually, this Harvard study found that we spend almost 50% of our time thinking about something else and NOT what we’re actually doing!

Here are just a few of the health benefits of mindfulness that have been researched:
Increased focus and attention
Improved memory and learning
Less anxiety and depression
Better emotional self-regulation
Stronger immune system
Reduced inflammation 

Here are a couple of my favorite mindfulness exercises that you can do with your kids:
 
STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN
 
You and your kids can practice mindfulness anywhere and anytime.  A great way for kids to learn how to be mindful is by using the STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN method.  This involves, STOPPING what you are doing, LOOKING around you and using all 5 senses (what are you seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and even tasting) and LISTENING (listen to your body and mind and how it feels in that moment).

THE FIVE SENSES EXERCISE

Another quick exercise that can be done anywhere is the 5 senses exercise.  Notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.  This exercise can bring you to a mindful state quickly.
These are just a couple of examples of how you can practice mindfulness with your kids.   

Your Partner in Health!
Caroline Wilson, M.Ed., FMHC

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