Proponents say it is possible, albeit challenging, for kids to step away from screens and homework and take some time for mindfulness activities.
By now, most of us have heard of “mindfulness,” the practice of focusing attention on the present moment without any judgment. Many adults practice it through meditation, yoga, walking or simply sitting still.
But mindfulness is not just for adults. According to mental health experts, it can also be good for children.
“Mindfulness helps kids cope with the daily stresses we all face,” says Michael Crowley, an associate professor at Yale Child Study Center and advisor for the Yale-Scholastic Collaborative for Child & Family Resilience. “Mindfulness skills offer a simple but profound way to be present, manage one’s thoughts and emotions, and get more out of life. These are healthy ways of thinking that are incredibly helpful in childhood and adulthood.”
Experts say that mindfulness can help children sleep better, enhance focus and reduce anxiety and depression.
“Since mindfulness is vital to a healthy lifestyle, it’s good practice to lay the foundation as young as possible,” says Bridgit Dengel Gaspard, a therapist and author. Mindfulness activities “help with impulse control, self-soothing, empathy and resilience. They bypass your current operating system, such as being overstimulated or tired, and shift you into a more peaceful state.”
Eva Petruzziello, an elementary school teacher and yoga instructor, says she has been teaching children mindfulness throughout the pandemic.
“We have seen a huge difference in the resilience of elementary school children in dealing with difficult social-emotional issues,” she says. “Mindfulness allows them time to respond to stimulus, to feel safe in the moment and to calm down when overwhelmed.”
In a world filled with video games, social media and screens large and small, experts say it is not always easy for children to slow down.
“In some ways, it is harder for kids today to find that mindfulness,” says Nadine Levitt, an author and founder of WURRLYedu, a music education platform. “Our modern lives offer so many distractions that offer quick dopamine hits. It’s easy to get hijacked by those distractions and live a very unconscious life.”
Proponents say it is possible, albeit challenging, for kids to step away from screens and homework and take some time for mindfulness activities. We asked a variety of educators and other experts to email us their best ideas for practices you can use at home. Here are some of those suggestions: Try a “mindful minute.” “It is one minute where kids take a deep breath and check in with themselves – how are they really feeling?” Levitt says. “For younger kids, we focus on just one aspect, but you can take it further with more reflective questions or by tapping into their five […]