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How to train mindfulness in children and teens

Nowadays, everywhere I go or in articles I read, there will be mention of mindfulness. 

Trust me. Mindfulness has become increasingly gaining attention not only among adults but also children.   

Parenting can be a stressful job as it entails loads of responsibilities, time and energy. 

Guess what?

Even though we may have a great plan and road map, there are many factors that are outside of our control and we start to worry about things such as our child’s behaviour, health, and development. 

I am one of the parents who always worry about my children’s health and well-being especially when my elder one was bullied when he was in school. 

As a result, I turned to mindfulness as a way to manage and support both my children and their well-being. We did mindfulness meditation and yoga mainly because it was the easiest to get started for us. 

Mindfulness wasn’t so “popular” back then and it was usually practised by adults. As time goes on, more schools are training mindfulness in their students as well.


What exactly is mindfulness?

Personally, mindfulness is about being conscious and in a mental state of awareness. 
That’s it! I didn’t know that mindfulness entails more than that. 

Mindfulness is also about
– being aware of the present moment
– being open
– not rushing to get things done
– not multitasking 

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing our attention on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting our feelings and thoughts, without judgment or distraction.

Why is it so important?

Even though I have been telling my children to think before they speak or act, it never comes across to me that this is actually one of the essential mindfulness lessons to teach especially for young children. 

There has been an increasing body of research done on mindfulness to find out how the effectiveness of mindfulness on brain and behaviour, and mental and physical health. 

The results have consistently suggested that mindfulness is an effective tool for improving mental and physical health

A research article “Exploring the Effects of Meditation Techniques Used by Mindfulness-Based Programs on the Cognitive, Social-Emotional, and Academic Skills of Children: A Systematic Review” has shown that there is positive impact of mindfulness in children and mindfulness training has helped improves the performance of children on tasks that evaluate cognitive functioning such as attention or executive functions and academic skills. 

In that article, it has also shown that “performance on a reading comprehension test was significantly improved after participation in an intensive 2-week mindfulness training”

My main concern is not just about their academic skills but also their well-being. Their studies have shown that it increases optimism and improvements on social behaviours of those children who took part in the mindfulness program. 

Now, isn’t that a very effective and powerful tool?
Would you like to know how to use this tool?

How do we train mindfulness in our children and teens?

Now that we know that mindfulness in children has a positive impact, bear in mind that every child is different and the techniques used in training mindfulness can produce different outcomes as well. 

Nevertheless, I will continue to practice mindfulness with my children at home as I do regard mindfulness as a valuable way of promoting their emotional well-being and resilience especially when I have a teen and a highly-emotional child at home. 

There are many ways to practice mindfulness and here are the 3 steps that I have been doing…

  1. Be their role model
    Children tend to look to us for guidance and modelling, so it’s important that I practice mindfulness myself. Imagine you have a hard day and your children come looking for your attention by misbehaving. I would usually flare up and yell. After practising mindfulness, I am able to stay calm, breathe and observe the situation before I respond. My children noticed how I react and they learned to do the same as well. 
  2. Learn to do deep breathing
    This is really effective especially when our emotions run high or feeling anxious. Deep breathing is a simple way to practice mindfulness, as it helps both children and adults manage stress and regulate their emotions. Mothers always have that instinct when their child is about to blow up. Before they do, I always get them to take deep breaths and it works wonders!
  3. Being patient and consistent:
    Is not easy being consistent. We have to make an effort to be patient and consistent. Mindfulness takes practice and repetition to become a habit, so being patient and consistent in teaching and encouraging the practice takes time and we are currently working on it. 

In addition, here are the 3 steps that I would love to add to my previous list:

  1. Make mindfulness a part of daily life
    Sometimes when I have a busy schedule, I tend to let slip. I am making the effort to incorporate mindfulness into daily routines, such as before mealtime or bedtime or even during the car ride to their school.
  2. Encourage mindfulness through activities
    When they were younger, we used to do a lot of art and it is one of the best mindfulness activities for children and adults. Now I am slowly adding yoga and meditation into the routine.
  3. Use technology mindfully
    Technology has both positive and negative effects on our lifestyle, especially social media which increases anxiety and insecurities among children and teens. Technology is also a source of distraction but we can’t fully avoid it. Instead, I will be adding mindfulness apps that can help children and teens to practice mindfulness in a fun and interactive way.

Mindfulness is one of the essential and valuable skills that I encourage children and teens to learn and develop healthier habits and better manage their emotions. 

With this skill, they will become more aware of their surroundings with the ability to make better decisions in the face of difficult situations, respond calmly and with compassion when faced with adversity and have an overall improved quality of life. 

Of course, training mindfulness in children and teens requires patience, consistency, and even creativity. As parents, we can help them learn to be mindful in a fun and engaging way. 

I hope this gives you a better insight into mindfulness and help you to kick-start mindfulness practice at home with your children and teens.

PS: I will be sharing more tips and info on mindfulness for adults, children and teens. Join our mailing list so that you will be the first one to get the latest updates. Sign up here!

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