Practicing mindfulness can have powerful effects over our lives. It promotes happiness, relieves stress, and has even been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Mindfulness practices in childhood can form habits which will inform behaviour in adulthood, giving children the gift of a calm, optimistic nature and the tools they need to deal with stress in a healthy way. To explore some mindfulness practices in further depth and to learn how you can introduce them to your family, read the following advice shared by an independent school in County Kildare.
One method of mindfulness for children is picturing their ‘happy place’. This exercise can help children in moments when they feel overwhelmed or frightened. Ask your child to close their eyes and think of a place they feel safe, it could be the family living room, their cosy bed or sat eating dinner around the dining room table. Once they have a place in mind, ask them to describe it. Is it warm? What can they hear? Is anyone there with them? Once your child has built a strong image of their happy place, tell them that they can visit there anytime they like within their mind. Being able to focus on their safe space will give children a sense of grounding and comfort when they feel anxious or upset.
Mindful breathing is another great practice to introduce to children. It has the power to reduce blood pressure and deplete stress hormones such as cortisol. Ask your child to imagine that there is a balloon in their belly that they are filling up as they slowly breathe in. Get them to hold their breath for a beat when the balloon is full and then slowly let the air back out as they breathe out. When your child gets worked up and finds their emotions running away with them, ask them to imagine they are filling the balloon. This practice will help bring their focus into the present moment, enabling them to deal with anxiety and difficult emotions.