Mindfulness for children has been found to:
improve attention span
help stress and anxiety
leads to a child showing more empathy for others
improve a child's self-management tools
Mindfulness practice has helped millions of adults learn a more resourceful response to the stresses inherent in being human.. Children too, who are under great pressure from peers, social conditioning, media and the internet, can learn to protect themselves by using these well-researched tools, when those mindfulness tools are adapted to younger age groups.
When children learn how to be mindful, taking a few moments before responding to stressful situations, they become more resilient, more thoughtful and more empathic. They also learn to understand the relationship between thinking and feelings in the body.
We all know mindfulness is good for us. Mindfulness allows us to be present in our parenting, choosing a skillful response, instead of succumbing to our visceral reactions. Mindfulness is also good for our children. There is an emerging body of research, including some exciting new NZ research, that shows mindfulness helps children improve their ability to pay attention, to calm down when they are upset and to make better decisions. In short, it helps with emotional regulation and cognitive focus. Doesn't everyone want that for their children?
Individual sessions for children (plus a parent or family)
The. very best way to teach mindfulness to a young child is to practice and model it as adults and parents. I feel more and more that the natural expression of mindfulness, in fact any quality of balance we want to see in others whose lives we are helping to shape, begins with us, so we can then ‘transmit’ invisibly to children through our own energy and example, in the messiness of ordinary life. I therefore suggest that you attend a introductory course or one-day retreat or have some individual coaching yourself before you book a session for you and your child..
why book a session for your child?
Mindfulness is an important tool for children when they are happy and healthy, but sometimes parents only think of it when there are issues like:
Low attention span or focus
Stress and anxiety
Lack of empathy for others
Difficulty relaxing or sleeping
Lack of body awareness
what do we do in a session?
In a session for your child, one you would also be participating in), present-moment awareness is built using engagement in the senses, games, activities, walking and conversing. Here are some of the things we might explore:
Using the senses to come home to the present moment
Awareness of the breath as an anchor
Mindful movements and games
Walking mindfdulness practice
Relaxation tools for your child to use as resources
Exercies to help sleep
Interactive drawing work
where would we come, and how much?
Sessions are available in WELLINGTON: (Thorndon or Wadestown) and KAPITI: (Paekakariki )
Fees are negotiable, depending on your situation, and whether you can come the Kapiti Coast. I also offer FAMILY SESSIONS, and the fee is dependent on how many are attending. You are welcome to email me for more details, and to explain your circumsances.
Mindfulness courses for children
NOW, IN THIS MOMENT:
a 7-week mindfulness course for children
(Wellington / Kapiti region only)
Now, in this Moment is a 7-week programme designed for groups of children of an approximately similar age range within 2 or 3 years of each other, e.g. 8 - 10 year olds Please contact me f you are:
a principal or senior teacher in the Wellington/Kapiti region AND would like this programme offered in a classroom at your primary school
a parent/caregiver from Wellington or Kapiti and can arrange a group of at least 8 children of an approximately similar age group (within approximately 2 -3 years of each other) AND a venue.
PLEASE NOTE: IThis course is not available in centres other than Wellington or the Kapiti Coast.
Fee: $120 / child (plus 1 parent, if they can attend -I encourage a parent to come along to at least some sessions.)
• Reduced stress and anxiety
• An increased sense of calm and well being
• Improved attention span and focus
• Understanding of the relationship between thinking and feelings in the body.
• Higher degree of self-management and self responsibility
• Development of more positive rellationships
The course fee includes access to short mindfulness recordings. It is essential that parents have a commitment to doing practice with their child during the weeks between lessons. Each week an e-mail will be sent to you with the activities for the week and an explanation of what we covered in the lesson, so your child can be supported daily in what they are learning.
There is no dogma or belief system to adopt in mindfulness meditation.
"Mindfulness helps me be calm and go to sleep."
"I think mindfulness should be taught all over the world."
"I shared it with my family and they are better mentally behave."
"I like the mindfulness eating."
"Mindfulness helps me calm my temper when my sister annoys me."
"I have learnt lots of new things like the vagus."
- comments from Kahikatea classroom, Clifton Normal School, Wellington, after doing a PBS programme with Rachel.
outline of programme
Week One: Coming Home to Ourselves
Getting to know each other. Introduction to mindfulness. Using listening and eating as tools for mindfulness.. The mindful bell. Mindful movements. Learning a short mindfulness practice. Using the scrapbook.
Two: Original Happiness
Group game. Happiness is not outside, in ‘things’. Exploring the quality of peace-insdie. Cultiviating gratitude. Continuing with mindful movements. practice. Happiness practice and discussion Mindfull eating.
Three: The Wonder of Being Alive
Exploring habits of mind. Encouraging children to see things freshly each moment. Mindfulness practice.. Mindfull movements, continued. Mindful eating
Four: Drawing Breath
Drawing mindfulness practice. Mindfulness and emotions. Being aware of stressors and the gap between a stressor and response. Mindfull movements.
Five: Building New Pathways in the Brain
Mindfulness and the brain. Learnng the wiring of happiness and gratitude.. Mindful movements, continued. Discussion.
Six: Loving Kindness and Connection to the Whole
Loving kindness practice. More on gratitude. .Seeing the different connections between all things. More mindful movements.
Seven: Bringing it all Together, Celebration
Putting all the learning together. Sharing. Mindfulness practice, in sitting and moving.Eating food together. Where to from here.
Please click below to read:
children’s mindfulness courses available outside the Wellington/Kapiti region
If you would like a mindfulness course offered in your child’s school, send your principal the following link so that they can look at training staff to offer the ‘in-house’ course, Pause, Breathe, Smile, an 8-week mindfulness programme designed for the NZ curriculum.
Please note that i am a trained facilitator for the Pause, Breathe, Smile programme, and that my programme Now, in this Moment, with the blessing of the developers of the PBS programme, bears some resemblance to it.
To read a 'Stuff' article about the Mindfulness in Schools Programme:
Tips to start teaching your children mindfulness
Learn mindfulness yourself and start (or maintain) your own practice.
To teach mindfulness to your children, you need to practice it yourself. You can start slowly with a meditation practice of just five to 10 minutes a day. Click here for courses for adults.
Keep it simple. Mindfulness is a big word for young kids to understand. Put simply, mindfulness is awareness. It is noticing sounds, thoughts, feelings, sensations in the body, and anything that is around us and happening right now.
Be aware of idealism
The purpose of teaching mindfulness to children is to develop their awareness of their experiences, inner and outer, and to recognize their thoughts for what they are, without judgment, to understand how feelings and thoughts affect the body, to recognize when their attention has wandered, and to wake up a sense of self-responsibility. . It is not a fix-things tool, and it will not stop tantrums, excitement and all the things that go with being a child.
Don't force it. Mindfulness may not be for your child right now. The timing may not be quite right. So model mindfulness, and encourage it, but don't insist!
5 mindfulness practices to do with your child
1. Listen to a bell. I often begin to teach children to practice mindfulness by asking them to pay attention to sounds. I use a singing bowl, but you could use a bell or anything that creates a sound that lingers a while. Tell your children to listen and put their hand up when they can no longer hear the sound.
2. Rock a stuffed toy to sleep. For young children, to teach breath awareness, it works well to ask them to lie down and put a stuffed animal on their belly. :Then they focus their attention on the rise and fall of the stuffed animal as they breathe in and out.
3. Mindful walks. Go for a "noticing" walk with your child, and ask them to focus on the sounds they hear, then the things they see, then the feeling under their feet etc. Just one at a time!
4. Practice gratitude. At dinner, or bedtime, share with your child the things you have been grateful for in the day, and ask them to do the same. Do it every day.
5. Practice mindful eating. There is a classic mindfulness practice called the raisin meditation. Click here to read a simple script.
Above all, remember to have fun, to keep it simple and to use repetition. Some things you try will work, and some won't!
Rachel: A deep interest of mine is in seeing adults and children learn to live with more ease and joy. I know at first hand our human capacity for pain, and i have understood that it is the mind which creates and perpetuates the most intense suffering. I have found mindfulness practice to be wonderful in learning to slow down, to uncover limiting thinking patterns, and to cultivate more ease and spontaneity in my everyday life.
I find the company of children refreshing. It saddens me that they are not being raised in an overall culture of wisdom and are therefore influenced by the values of a performance and economically-driven age. I love children's openness, unexpectedness and their capacity to respond to mindfulness practice.
In 2007 I had the privilege to meet and become a student of Aotearoa-born Spiritual Master, Sri Yanchiji. The spiritual journey, of re-discovering the natural and inherent joy that comes from simply Being, and enquiring into all that eclipses that happiness, is increasingly informing my work with others.