B = Be Here Now
Do your children often get overwhelmed by seemingly small problems?
Tears and tantrums over broken toys, hurt feelings, and unwanted bedtimes are common in most family households.
As parents, we accept that children often have a skewed perspective of life’s events, but taking the time to teach kids to be present in the moment and live in the now can give them a powerful tool they can use for the rest of our their lives. You may find that you learn to be more present in your daily life as well.
All of us, children included, can get wrapped up in worries or projections about what will happen in the future, or thinking too hard about the past, or distracting themselves with lots of input. Helping children to different degrees, depending on their ages, know how to let the past and future float away will give them a life-long self-calming skill and the knowledge that their feelings and fears, while important, are temporary and without form.
Make living in the present a priority for yourself and your kids and everyone in the family will benefit from a better attitude and an improved ability to handle stress, sadness and anger.
Kids who are taught mindfulness are more likely to have a healthy self esteem and less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression as they get older.
- Pay attention to breathing at bedtime. You might not be able to teach a young child deep meditation techniques, but you can lay together at bedtime and feel your tummies rise and fall with each breath. This simple awareness of breath increases mindfulness and can help calm your child at the end of the day.
- Ask how the body feels when kids are scared or sad or experiencing other emotions. Before you jump in to alleviate your child’s discomfort, a natural urge for any parent, stop and ask them a few questions about how they’re feeling and what the emotion is like in their bodies. For example, ask where in their body they feel happy—is it a tummy rumble or legs that want to jump? This helps them become more aware of their own reactions to emotions and helps them pinpoint how they feel RIGHT NOW.
- Talk about your own mindfulness. Teaching by example is always effective, but mindfulness might not be something your children can see on their own. Talk to your kids about when and how you choose to live in the moment. For example, explain that you aren’t answering the phone during story time because you’re focusing on enjoying reading together.
- Take a timeout. Create a family habit of responding to high stress by stopping and take a moment to be quiet, close your eyes, and count to 10. This helps kids and adults come back to the present when feeling overwhelmed and is a simple behavior to model and teach.
The Association for Mindfulness in Education offers research and resources for parents and teachers who want to encourage children to live in the moment more often. The Mindful Child is also a good resource for parents.