We all have heard the words “self-care” attached to pictures of the spa, bubble baths, and reading. For young children, their physical well being is taken care of by their parents (hopefully). But what about their spiritual and emotional self-care? We read them books, we allow them creative spaces, and we teach them how to identify their emotions. Is that enough?
Diagnoses of mental illness are on the rise and we are now more aware and proactive of our mental illness; the conversation has opened up. We can give children the tools to identify and work through complicated emotions from a young age, so that they don’t suffer as much through adolescence and adulthood.
Through play, our children learn about mindfulness. Mindfulness is one of the most important tools to reducing anxiety and stress. It can also shift our thinking from negatives to positives! Here is a short list of activities I do with my 4 year old during dinner, to help shift her thinking into a more mindful and positive mindset:
- Think of 5 people we want to send positive notes to (sometimes we actually write up cards for them).
- Describing the smell, texture, and taste of the food we are eating
- Think of 5 things we are grateful for that day
Children have a natural desire to get up and move around during the day. Involving them in mindful movement is a good way to have them learn about the way their bodies work, and can later help them identify when something is wrong. Some mindful movement examples that we do before bed are:
- Guided story time yoga (check out Cosmic Kids on YouTube for fun yoga)
- Noticing our heartbeats. We sit still, lay down, and move around a little bit to identify the speed of our heartbeat.
If you incorporate mindfulness into your daily activities, you might agree that it is more of a journey than a destination. Teaching children about this journey at an early age can give them tools to ease transitions, stress, and anxiety they face throughout their life. The mindfulness journey doesn’t need to start at 20, 25, or 30. It can start as early as 2, 5, or 10 years old.
Is there anything you do with your kids for mindfulness that you recommend bringing into daily life?