In recent years there has been a lot of research conducted on the benefits of mindfulness. Mindfulness, simply put, is being aware of one’s thoughts in the present moment. As we know, children have vivid imaginations, their minds are running a mile a minute. If we are being honest, most adults have minds that too are running a mile a minute!
Developing the skill of becoming aware of your thoughts, allows the mind to slow down. In turn, you are then able to better control your feelings, which allow you to self regulate back to a state of feeling good. When children are feeling good, they are able to grow and blossom into the beautiful individuals that they are.
A wonderful way for children to begin to develop mindfulness is by utilizing their 5 senses. They serve as a great indicator for children on whether or not their external environment is creating thoughts or feelings that make them feel good. Let’s look at each of the 5 senses, and help your child understand how powerful they really are.
Adults are influenced by what they perceive in their outer environments. Children are no exception to this. As a result, what they see around them and how they process it will ultimately begin to shape their perspective. The perspectives they accumulate and engrain in their subconscious, will begin to mold their personalities. Thus, how they feel when they see their world around them, will go a long way in determining their emotional states. This is a wonderful opportunity for children to learn how to be selective on where they place their focus.
For example, your child might be sitting in classroom setting where another student is being disruptive. Your child was focused and feeling great about their work, but now are becoming a little agitated or upset that the disruptive child is taking away from their ability to peacefully learn. With some awareness, your child would be able to take a look outside the classroom window and see the beautiful sky. Maybe they see some trees or a bird that looks at peace. They realize that taking a minute to pause and look for the beauty of the world around them makes them once again feel good. They might even take a look at their lunch box in the corner and feel grateful for the delicious lunch you have packed! The options are plentiful, but it is the awareness that will unlock these possibilities for your child.
We as parents have all experienced a situation where we find ourselves feeling very irritated or annoyed by the constant screaming or crying of our children. Similarly, there will be many times things will be happening that will make your child feel irritated, annoyed, or experience some other negative feeling. Nonetheless, your child being mindful of these feelings can take a minute to step away and utilize their sense of hearing to feel better. They might go put on their favorite song and listen to it for a while. They might go outside and listen to the birds and other creatures in nature. They might even come up to you and ask you to say something sweet to them. All are wonderful ways for your child to utilize their sense of hearing to feel good. What they want to hear will depend on the child and the situation, but as long as they know how they feel when they hear it, that’s all that matters!
One of the earliest senses children build on at young age is their sense of touch. Many of us may already know that babies develop strong emotional bonds from skin to skin contact. The power of what they touch or feel remains strong throughout their entire lives. Your child might have a favorite blanket or plush toy that they love to hold, which gives them a sense of comfort. Whatever it might be, they are already displaying a sense of awareness of how to regulate their emotions. As they learn to become more mindful, they might find that the warm embrace of a loved one is what they need when they are not feeling good. Some children might find a sense of calm by petting the family pet. Depending on what emotion they are feeling, they might like a squishy toy that allows them to release some inner tension. Again, these are just examples, but as long as they continue to develop their ability to be mindful of their feelings, they will find the right tools to help them feel better.
Do you ever notice how your children come running to you when they smell their favorite dessert being made? It doesn’t matter if we are at home or out at a store, this happens every time, without fail, in my family! The reason this happens is because the children associate those smells with the enjoyment of eating something delicious. It would be fair to say that this makes them feel good.
The same thing can hold true for when your child might smell fresh cut grass. It may elicit memories of playing outside with their friends on a warm summer day. Perhaps they smell something not as pleasant, but it reminds them of their fun trip to the zoo. Regardless, these are wonderful moments for your child to become aware of what they are thinking and how it is making them feel. By doing this, they will know in the future what smells might help bring them back into a state of feeling good and seek them out!
How often do you find yourself asking your child to hurry up and finish eating? Maybe this doesn’t happen to you, because your child devours their meals before they take a breath. Either way, this is a wonderful opportunity to help your child practice their mindfulness. Are they taking a minute to chew their food and appreciate how it tastes? Have they taken the time to see how their bodies feel when they eat this food? Do they realize they are full a lot sooner than they expected? These are all questions you can ask your child to help them practice becoming mindful of what they are eating.
While a lot of this may seem easy and obvious, it may not be to your child. By helping them slow down and take a moment to think about their thoughts and feelings, you are developing their ability to be mindful. The more mindful they are, the more likely they are to keep themselves feeling good and thriving as they move forward through their days!
Rachna Patel is the founder of OH-KS Corporation, a company that creates one-of-a-kind programs and materials, to help children ultimately become happy, healthy, confident, have a strong growth mindset, and so much more. To learn more about their latest products, you can visit their website at www.OH-KS.com