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Mindfulness is a virtue that we could all benefit from a little bit more of. The practice of bringing an accepting attitude to the present moment does everyone some good. But unfortunately, it’s also not a mindset that you can just slip into. It takes practice. Establishing mindful practices in children is a great way to set them up for a life time of rewarding social and personal interactions. It can help them develop compassion, empathy, and curiosity.
So, without further ado, read on to learn how you can foster mindfulness in your children.
At its core, mindfulness is the practice of living in the moment. It sounds very simple, but most people struggle with it, and modern technologies don’t necessarily foster the habit either.
Mindfulness doesn’t just mean being in the moment though, it means approaching it with an open and accepting attitude.
The mind of a child is, in many ways, naturally geared towards mindfulness to being with. Almost by default they dwell exclusively in present, and their natural curiosity further contributes to their potential for mindful practices.
With a little bit of practice you can channel these natural attributes of your child to instill a habit of mindfulness that lasts for a lifetime.
Yoga for kids is on the rise, and for the purposes of mindfulness, this is a very good thing. Yoga actually has deep spiritual ties, with origins in Hindu prayer practices.
Most teachers in the modern western setting try to avoid the religious connotations of the practice, and instead distill the teachings down to their physical benefits.
But regardless of what words the teachers use, yoga still fosters a connection between the mind body and spirit that is necessary for a mindful lifestyle.
For children, the benefits of yoga are several fold. At its most basic level, yoga promotes physical fitness, and body awareness.
More than just stretching, yoga also teaches postures and breathing techniques that can help to reduce stress and anxiety. The best part? Yoga can be done anywhere without the need for special equipment, all you need is a yoga mat that provides enough support and comfort for the little ones, making it a tool that your kids can bring with them anytime that they need it.
The benefits of meditation for anyone are immense. For one thing, mediation can help children focus better on their school work.
One recent study showed that children with ADHD who engage in regular meditation at home were able to focus better at school.
It has also been linked to higher grades and better attendance.
Some schools are even replacing punitive detention practices with meditation sessions in the hopes of fostering better long-term results.
Emotional intelligence is a key aspect of long term personal development. In fact, it is actually a skill that the healthcare professional is putting an increasingly bigger premium on.
In fact, as the healthcare industry moves increasingly towards artificial intelligence (with an additional $6 billion being spent on it in the next several years) emotional intelligence will become ever more important. Why? Because it is one skill that machines can’t learn.
Emotional intelligence requires an emphasis on empathy and understanding of others—skills that spring naturally from a mindful lifestyle.
Children are naturally very capable of compassion. To foster their natural tenacity for this virtue, it is important to embody those attributes in your own actions.
If you create a culture of compassion in your household your children will internalize it.
But to really promote a compassionate way of life you need to make sure that your kids are being exposed to it at every level. Surround them with compassionate people.
You can further help your children by continuously having conversations with them about compassion. The more you emphasize it as a virtue, the more they will try to embody the practice in their own life.
To truly instill an environment of mindfulness in your home, it will mean deliberately educating your children on the practice. Mindfulness teachings are on the rise. About 1.7 million kids practiced yoga in 2012 alone.
Teaching your kids about the benefits of yoga, the importance of compassion and empathy, and the virtues of living in the moment will pay off in the long run. Remember, that the very best way to teach your kids anything is to live by example.
Written by: Lilly Hughes, Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher, www.womencaringfortheland.org