Hello and welcome back to another episode of THH Podcast! In today’s episode we discuss ways to introduce mindfulness to your kids. More specifically, we discuss ways to make your children aware of their emotions so they can live more mindfully.
To give the briefest of summaries, mindfulness is a way of becoming acutely aware of what is happening around and within us without reaction or judgement. If you’re like me, an adult who is just now starting get the hang of mindfulness, you know it’s not as easy as it sounds.
That’s why I vehemently believe our children should be practicing these skills while they are young. The more practice they have, the easier it will be for them to seek mindfulness in adverse or strenuous situations.
Teaching these skills can be a little tricky (and require a lot of work and patience) so I have broken down some of the steps I’ve personally used with my children. Feel free to take what resonates and/or make your own spin of these things.
Without further adieu, let’s dive in!
#1: Have Your Children Identify Their Feelings
In order to become aware of what is happening within us, we have to be able to define our emotions. One of the simplest ways to introduce mindfulness to your kids is to have them identify what emotion they are feeling.
There are a variety of ways to teach emotional identification to your children. The first step, however, should be to teach your kids emotional vocabulary. After all, how are they supposed to identify their emotions if they don’t know what to call them?
I know Pinterest is loaded with tons of free and paid printables regarding identifying emotions. Click here to access the board I created specifically for introducing mindfulness for your kids.
If you want to go deeper, there are tons of books about emotional awareness. With both resources, your kids will be able to identify emotions based on facial expressions and/or go in depth into the cause and effect of emotions.
Be sure to take your time and work with your kids. It can be really easy to hand these resources over and have them figure it out on their own, but don’t cheat them out of these lessons. Let them ask questions and go above and beyond to answer them.
#2: Openly Discuss Feelings As They Arise
Each of us experience emotions both physically and psychologically. When we can identify these reactions, it becomes easier for us to step into a state of mindfulness rather than continuing reacting blindly.
When you notice your child starting to get frustrated or angry, talk with them about what is happening in their body. Ask them what thoughts are going through their head. Ask them what reactive steps they are thinking about taking.
This is the most important time to practice active listening. Look them in their eyes and make sure they know there is no wrong answer. Let them get everything off their chest. You will notice instantly they start to relax just by talking things through.
Another important thing to keep in mind here is you don’t just single out negative emotions. Talk with your kids about what they are feeling even when they are bursting at the seams with joy. It’s just as important to understand how positivity feels in the body as it is to know negativity.
#3: Give Your Children Journal Prompts
If you’ve been following this podcast for any length of time and don’t have a journal for everyone in your household, clearly you haven’t been listening.
All jokes aside, journaling is an INSANELY powerful tool for introducing mindfulness to your kids. Sometimes it can be difficult for kids to spew their emotions out on a blank page, so I really love the idea of giving them journal prompts.
One of the most effective journal prompts for introducing mindfulness to your kids is “when I feel [insert emotion here], I feel _____________ physically and _________________ mentally”. This plays right off the previous tip, but instead of being a fleeting conversation, your kids will have a hard copy of their reaction to various emotions.
After your kids have identified how emotions affect their bodies and minds, the next step is to have them develop an emotional action plan. Basically it’s a way to rewire their brain from unconscious reactions to a state of emotional awareness. This step is really crucial for assisting your children to overcome overly powerful emotions on their own.
The first few times you see emotions panning out, speak with them about it. Then redirect them to their journal and have them practice their emotional action plan. After a few times of guidance, let them try to handle it on their own. If they continually struggle, talk openly with them about what’s happening and see if you can come up with a new plan together.
#4: Practice Yoga Or Some Form Of Exercise
Yaaaaas! Here comes the inner hippie you’ve been waiting for!!
As both a certified yoga teacher and a lifelong student of yoga, I can guarantee yoga will change your child’s emotional well-being. Any time we move our bodies, we are releasing feel good hormones. However, when we move our bodies in sync with our breath, we are entering a state of moving meditation.
If you listened to my podcast on brain breaks, you know having your child take even a 5-minute break can be effective for improving concentration. The same concept can be applied to your child’s emotional well-being.
Let your children watch yoga videos or even read books on yoga to pick out a few favorite poses or sequences. When they start to go through a particularly emotionally charged moment, invite them to seek mindfulness by practicing those moves in sync with their breath.
Even if it’s just a quick 5-minute session, your child will re-enter the situation with a renewed sense of peace and clarity. It could even be beneficial to have them journal how they felt both before and after moving their body so they can decide if that will be an effective piece to their emotional action plan.
#5: Have Your Child Practice Meditation
Yes, I am fully aware I have suggested meditation in basically EVERY podcast. No, that will not be changing any time soon.
Look, it’s 2020 y’all. If you aren’t on the meditation bus by now, you are missing out homie! Meditation is such an amazing, powerful tool that everyone needs to be practicing (not just adults).
I realize it can be difficult to get children to sit still and breathe even for a short period of time (after all, I have an insanely kinesthetic child myself). A great way to work with that is to have your child watch guided meditations.
Some of our favorite guided meditations are from Go Noodle. You can find Go Noodle on YouTube and as a Roku TV channel. Their meditations are short enough to keep your kids attention and have great visualizations.
I will also be releasing some guided meditations for the kiddos really soon so be sure to stay subscribed to the podcast and blog so you will know when they are ready.
#6: Be A Good Role Model
Finally, and arguably most importantly, practice what you preach! I highly recommend you follow all these tips not only for your children, but for yourself as well.
The more your kids can see you working with your emotional action plans and catching yourself in the midst of a reactive state, the easier it will be for them to do the same.
You guys know by now I’m completely transparent about my own struggles with mental health and practicing the skills mentioned in this post. I truly understand this is way more difficult than it sounds. However, the best way to raise emotionally intelligent children is to be an emotionally intelligent parent.
Don’t beat yourself up if you struggle with this step. In fact, be open and honest with your kids when you struggle.
Having open discussions with your children works both ways. If you want them to be able to admit when they are struggling, you need to be vulnerable and let them know you go through the same things too.
Go Introduce Mindfulness To Your Kids!
As you can surely tell, mindfulness is something that is very near and dear to my heart. I truly believe the world would be a better place if we could all operate from a space of mindfulness instead of reaction.
I hope you found these tips to introduce mindfulness to your kids beneficial. I would love to hear in the comments below if you have any additional suggestions for this subject.
Be sure to give the podcast a listen if you want a more in depth version of this topic and share it with your friends if you think it could be beneficial. Thank you so very much for taking the time to hang with me today. I look forward to bringing you more great content soon.
Until next time. Peace out, homies!