Mindfulness for children
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?
Next dates and venues to be arranged.
FEE: $140 per child
The group size is limited to 10 children.
Mindfulness for Children
- an 8-week course for children between 7 and 9 years, or between 10 and 12 years
• Increased calm and well-being
• Reduced stress and anxiety
• An increased sense of 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.
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 am offering the course above privately because it has not yet been taken up by Kapiti schools, and a percentage of the fees will be paid to the Mental Health Foundation.
I am a trained facilitator for this superbly-crafted programme. If you'd like to read more information about the programme and related research, or if your principal is interested in having mindfulness taught to the children at their school, please click below:
The link above is also relevant to pass on to your child's or children's school principal, for them to consider offering as part of the curriculum.
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:
Please click here for information about individual mindfulness sessions for children.
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!