You’ve probably heard about mindfulness, but chances are, you’ve not considered its potential use for your hyper child who still can’t sit still for long periods. Yet, mindfulness can be effective with kids as young as preschoolers.
Mindfulness teaches your little one to be more aware of the sights and sounds around him, as well as his thoughts, ideas and emotions.
Your child is encouraged to recognise and value each moment, with the aim of understanding himself and enjoying life better.
This type of self-awareness enables him to have more control over his life, to deal with each moment as it comes, rather than be carried along by life’s events.
Practitioners of mindfulness claim that it is especially helpful for restless children because it helps them regain focus on the present. Mindfulness, it is claimed, can give them a sense of inner calmness.
Like all psychological techniques, mindfulness requires training and practice.
So, if you are interested, look for a child-centred mindfulness group in your neighbourhood.
In the meantime, here are some starter activities:
Have your child lie on his back, on the floor, on a soft carpet or rug. Then ask him to concentrate on his breathing, without speaking. Put a soft toy on his tummy and tell him to watch it as his stomach moves slowly up and down with each breath.
Encourage him to relax and think about how his body feels while doing this. How does the soft toy move? What is he thinking right now? What is he feeling?
Mindfulness involves awareness of what is going on all around at the time. Listening is important.
When your child is sitting comfortably in a chair, ring a bell and ask him stay silent and to keep listening until he thinks the ringing has stopped.
Then, he should continue to listen to the sounds in his environment. What sounds did he hear after the bell stopped ringing? What did he hear that he hadn’t noticed before?
Take your preschooler for a walk in your neighbourhood park. Encourage him to look closely at the different sights, perhaps a stone or a butterfly. What does he see when he peers closely at them?
What are the different smells in his surroundings and how do they change as he moves from one place to another? Ask him to pick up a leaf from the ground and tell you how it feels. Encourage him to concentrate only on that one item.
Tensing and relaxing
Ask your child to lie flat on the floor, silent, with his eyes closed. Ask him to tense his body muscles as tight as he can.
As he does this, remind him that this should include his hands, legs, and arms as well as his chest and shoulders. Then tell him to slowly relax all those muscles. How does he feel now? Is he warmer or colder? Is he more comfortable or less comfortable? Do this with him for a minute or two.
Develop your child’s ability to understand his feelings and to express them verbally by asking him to tell you how he feels at this moment. Does he feel happy or sad?
What happens in his body when he has that feeling? Then ask what he could do to change that feeling – for example, to turn sadness into happiness, or to turn irritation into calmness. This increases his self-awareness.
You might tremble at thought of your hyper child trying these activities, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly he engages in them and the effect they have on him.
Watch these videos
Here, the team from Chiltern House Preschool, which has been holding weekly mindfulness sessions for its children, share how you can guide your kid.
MINDFULNESS FOR KIDS: PART 1
MINDFULNESS FOR KIDS: PART 2
MINDFULNESS FOR KIDS: PART 3