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So we parents are convinced that we want more time and space in our lives. To do this, we have chosen to integrate a mindfulness practice in our lives. This may be a formal meditation, or this may be through different techniques to slow down and focus on our breath more frequently. Either way, this eventually leads parents to experience great relief, optimism, and desire to share this journey with their children. Kids can reap the benefits of mindfulness and it can help them self-regulate and learn to concentrate their attention. Before you embark on bringing this journey to your children be aware of your intentions and do not push these activities. I repeat: do NOT push these activities on your children. If they resist, no matter how well-intentioned you may be, drop it. The best way to encourage your child to slow down, listen to their body, and breathe is to authentically role model this behavior through your own practice. Children will naturally drawn to mindfulness when they are interested and forcing them will be counterproductive.
That being said, below are several resources I recommend to share a mindfulness journey with your children starting with focusing on their breath. (Future posts will focus on mindfulness of body, emotions, heart, and more–so sign up for our mailing list!)
1. Hoberman Sphere: Use this fun toy to visually show how breath expands and contracts and the appropriate speed to do so to calm down. My child liked playing with this toy more than using it to monitor his breath, so I took my own advice and abandoned (for now) us using it together. Instead, I used it alone and found it very helpful in staying focused on the cadence of my breath and sustaining attention on my breath.
2. Noticing Breath: Have your child get a special stuffed animal lay down. Put it on your belly and have them notice what it does when you breathe (go up and down). Now put it on your head or legs and have them notice what it does when you breathe (nothing). Have them lay down. Have them try moving it slowly up and down 5 times. Ask them how they feel when they take 5 deep breaths.
3. Breathing Technique: Have your child inhale like they are smelling a flower and exhale like they are blowing out a candle. I did this with my kids at a family yoga class we recently attended. It is a relatable visual for the kids which will help them understand the 2 main parts of their breath more clearly (inhale and exhale). If you have another tangible object for them to inhale and another to exhale (like a balloon), use it! It will make the “lesson” more fun and memorable.
4. “Calm” App. We carry our phones with us wherever we go, so this app is nice because it is practically always at an arms lengths aways! This program has some neat features which kids (and grownups) will enjoy using including: a visual breath tracker telling you when to breathe in and when to breathe out. It also has a “sleep story” feature where you can listen to a calming story before bed. The app can record the frequency of your meditations which is helpful. I personally don’t love having an app be a part of my mindfulness routine, but if it works for you, go for it!
5. The Boy Who Searched for Silence by Andrew Newman: I got this book at Dr. Shefali’s Tsabary’s Evolve conference last year. She gave a beautiful endorsement of this book. This book is a beautiful tale of boy who is looking for silence and the amazing feeling he experience he has when he finds it. My son is inexplicably drawn to this story and I am fascinated that he keeps picking it for bedtime. Instead of asking him, I am just riding the wave and enjoying the process…I hope you do too. This book gets 5 stars from us.
Again, a note of caution about getting so excited about your mindfulness journey that you force it on your children. You can expose them to what you are learning, but they will reject it if it gets pushed on them. The breath is their most sacred home that they will find peace in–whenever they choose to go on that journey. Don’t taint it with your expectations, judgements, and intentions.
What other mindfulness of breath tools do you recommend?
@2017 Nurture: Family Education & Guidance, nurturefamilyeducation.com
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Introduction to Conscious Parenting
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