“Students are told to pay attention a thousand times in school, but rarely are they taught how. We tell our kids to be nice to each other again and again without ever teaching them the incredibly accessible exercises that cultivate empathy and forgiveness."
Last month, I wrote an article on social and emotional learning for children and how emotions, unmanaged stress and poor regulation of impulses can interfere with attention, memory and often unwanted behaviors. Now, I want to share integrating the social and emotional skills with mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness techniques can benefit everyone, both children or adults.
Imagine introducing mindfulness techniques early in childhood to help decrease negative thoughts and behaviors and build self-confidence before they reach a level of chaos or crisis. We all want this for our children, right? I remember my first child having emotional and behavioral struggles. As a mom, I felt like the worst parent ever. I had no idea what to do to help him. I think, "if I had only known then, what I know now…things would be different." I know I’m not alone with this feeling.
What Is Mindfulness?
When many think of mindfulness, they first think of yoga. Yoga is a form of mindfulness, but there are many other mindfulness tools too. Mindfulness is awareness. It is the practice of paying attention to thoughts, body sensations and sounds around us. Most importantly, mindfulness teaches us to respond versus react. Mindfulness can be simple, but we need to practice it. When we try anything for the first time, it feels awkward. However, the more you practice, the more natural it becomes.
What Research Shows
Research shows that mindfulness can be beneficial for our children in these ways:
How to Teach Mindfulness to Children
Lori Cull-Deshmukh, LMSW