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)
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
- Emotional over-reactivity
- Lack of body awareness
- Emotional withdrawal
what do we do in a session?
In a session your child, which you would normally be present for and part of, present-moment awareness is built through variety and reinforcement, using their engagement in games, activities, walking and conversing. Here are some of the things we might use:
- Chocolate mindfulness!
- Breathing practices and games for your child to use as an anchor
- Mindful listening practice
- Mindful movement
- Mindfulness walks
- Mindful eating; games to wake up the senses
- Fun relaxation tools for your child to use as resources
- 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. Please email me for more details.
Mindfulness courses for children
I occasionally offer 7 or 8-week programmes in Kapiti for groups of children of an approximately similar age range, e.g. 8 - 10 year olds). Scroll down for upcoming courses.
If you can arrange a group of at least 6 children of an approximately similar age group (within approximately 3 years of each other) and a venue, i can arrange to come and teach a weekly course in the Wellington/Kapiti region. The programme i teach has some similarities to "pause, breathe, smile" programme (scroll down for more details)
upcoming course for children
NOW IN THIS MOMENT:
a mindfulness course for children
Lotus Yoga Centre, Paraparaumu
a 7-week course for 8 - 10 year old children
15 October - 3 December, Mondays, 4.15 - 5.15pm
PLEASE NOTE: The second week's lesson falls on Labour Day and we will have a class that afternoon.
There will be no class on Monday 19 November
• 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
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.
Fee: $120 per child (plus parent)
"Mindfulness helps me be calm and go to sleep."
"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 think mindfulness should be taught all over the world."
"I have learnt lots of new things like the vagus."
- comments from Kahikatea classroom, Clifton Normal School, Wellington, after doing a programme with Rachel.
Please click below to read:
In 2012, Grant Rix, from the NZ Mental Health Foundation, created and began piloting an 8-week Mindfulness in Schools programme which has been the subject of an Auckland of University research study. Results show that children who have done the programme exhibit better focus, lowered stress, and better emotional resilience and impulse control. The programme is now available to be offered to any school who wishes to have the programme in at least one classroom in their school.
I suggest you contact your child's school principal to interest them in offering the course in one or more classrooms. Here is the link you can send them:
Outline of the 8-week programme in schools
Week One: Coming Home
Introduction to mindful breathing - and mindful movements like 'opening the curtains', 'the penguin' and 'seaweed'.
Two: Happiness Here and Now
Exploring the difference in happiness - how material things offer a temporary boost, whereas actions create a sustainable sense of wellbeing. Encouraging children to foster friendships and be kind.
Three: Everything for the First Time
Experiencing things freshly in each moment, helping students appreciate newness and things they often take for granted rather than getting stuck in unhelpful habits.
Four: All things Rising and Falling
Exploring physical sensations in the body. By now, children are aware their breathing is always rising and falling. Now that's extended to emotions and how emotional states are 'triggered'.
Five: Moving Still
Using a mind-jar (a glass jar filled with water and glitter) and engaging in the 'neuron dance', students learn about the brain and how mindfulness can settle a scattered mind.
Six: Kind Heart, Happy Heart
Mindful breathing, sending kind thoughts and practising gratitude.
Seven: Everything is Connected to Everything Else
Seeing the different connections between things and how being isolated and alone can be harmful.
Eight: Touching Base, Touching stillness
Kids bring in an object that reminds them to practice mindfulness
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.