Teaching Mindfulness to Kids to Cope with COVID-19 Outbreak
Being at home has become the new normal these days as the cases of COVID-19 continue to rise. The imposed restrictions, new routines, and everyday worry about health and safety can take a toll on our mental health and emotional well-being as adults, more so for our kids.
Starting mindfulness practice is a great way to cope with the stress and fears brought about by the pandemic. It is not only valuable now, but it is a practice that is useful even after we resume back to our regular daily lives.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of tuning oneself to the present moment and focusing on something specific. It is being aware of the movements of your body and your surroundings. It is focusing on your senses - listening to the sounds of nature, smelling the freshly cut grass or freshly brewed, or feeling the warmth of your palm against your knee. It is also the practice of recognizing your thoughts and emotions and how it affects your body.
Why should you introduce mindfulness practices at home?
Mindfulness can help improve our kids' overall well-being and behavior. It also equips them to face daily situation, stressful or not, in a positive manner.
It is timely and valuable to introduce mindfulness practice to your kids as they will reap these benefits.
1. Learn how to handle and manage stress
Kids suffer from stress like us, adults. They may feel it now because they don't see their playmates, or they worry about finishing online school on time. While we can't really remove the stressors for them, we can teach them how to manage it.
Through mindful practices, perhaps they can calm down, think more objectively, and plan how they can help themselves instead of dwelling on the problem.
2. Promote positive outlook
Mindfulness practices promote a feeling of calmness and gratitude. These foster positive thoughts and disposition.
3. Increase the ability to focus and pay attention
The kids' frequent exposure to television, video games, social media, and gadgets, give them constant stimulation. This leads them to want results almost immediately and to have the feel of instant gratification. Because of this, they tend to multitask most of the time, and quickly lose their concentration.
As the kids continuously practice being mindful, they improve their ability to concentrate and focus on a specific item or action. The practice also teaches them how to acknowledge distractions and re-direct themselves back to what they are doing. This habit is also helpful for their studies and other activities.
4. Help develop empathy
As kids develop self-awareness and understanding of their emotions, they become sensitive also to the feelings of their friends.
5. Help learn to self-regulate and self-control
When faced in a difficult or stressful situation, kids may tend to cry, whine, and throw tantrums. In practicing mindfulness, kids learn how to pause, observe, assess, and control impulsive decisions and reactions.
6. Fosters self-esteem
Being in an embarrassing situation or receiving hurtful words can break a child's self-esteem. When these negative situations are replayed over and over in the child's mind, feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness may grow.
But with mindful practices, the child learns to focus on the present and set aside the past. Doing so promotes confidence,inner peace and security.
7. Improved Physical Health
Stress and anxiety can cause sleepless nights, appetite loss, and mood swings. Having these negative feelings can cause headaches, tummy ache, decrease immunity, or lead to low blood pressure. Since mindfulness helps in minimizing stress and anxiety, kids can have a better condition with the regular practice of mindfulness.
How can I encourage my kids to start and practice mindfulness?
1. Start your own mindfulness journey.
Practicing mindfulness allows you to experience the positive benefits yourself. With a better understanding of what mindfulness is and its benefits , you can better explain what it is and what it is for. Also, your kids will most likely follow your lead when they see you practice mindfulness too.
Kids, especially the younger ones, are naturally fond of movements, and they may find it hard to stay still most of the time. Do not get frustrated or lose hope if they do not seem to cooperate with the mindfulness activities. Like sports or music, it is a skill that requires regular practice, so just continue to encourage your kids to join you in the mindfulness activities. You can also use other techniques and see what best fit their personality and preferences.
3. Introduce mindfulness and mindfulness practices to your kids.
Explain what mindfulness is to your kids. Feel free to share with them what you do and how you feel during and after you practice mindfulness.
4. Include mindfulness activities into your kid's routine.
Setting specific time for mindfulness activities helps the practice to be a part of your kids' routine. When it is included in their routine, they get accustomed to it, and the practice becomes natural to them.
5. Pick a time when kids are usually relaxed.
Their daily playtime may not be the best time to introduce mindfulness activities to them. You may opt to inject mindfulness activities during their quiet time. In this way, they are less distracted when you engage them in mindfulness activities.
6. Prepare the environment and tools that will be used for mindfulness activities.
A way to help your kids to prepare and focus during mindfulness activities is to ensure that the space is ready for them according to the activity you intended to do. If you and the kids are doing yoga, set aside the table or remove any toys on the floor to make room for stretching exercises. If you have planned a sensory activity, prepare the materials beforehand.
7. Encourage your kids to share their mindfulness experience with you and the family.
Talking about their feelings and experience allows kids to open up and express themselves. it is good to ask them for suggestions on what other mindful activities then can do by themselves or with the family.
8. Don't force your kids into practicing mindfulness activities.
Allow your kids to ease into the mindfulness practice at their own pace. Avoid using mindfulness activities as punishment so that they don't develop resentment toward it.
Now that you have learned about the benefits of mindfulness practice and tips to get started, are you excited to begin your mindfulness journey? We are so motivated as you. Be sure to watch out for our next article, which we will list out ways to practice mindfulness for you and your kids can do together.
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