As a mindfulness teacher, the most common question parents ask me is “How can I get my child to do mindfulness?” Believe it or not, the most common reflection students have for me is “How can I get my parents to do mindfulness?” As it turns out, the answer to the first question is in the realization of the second question. Our children sense the stress felt by the trusted adults in their lives and wish for it to be better.Integrating Mindfulness - A Daily Choice
Mindfulness is the practice of paying curious attention to what’s happening in the present moment. It has been studied for its effectiveness in reducing stress, improving attention, and reducing misbehavior. That being said, mindfulness is only meaningful when individuals make a choice to practice - it can’t be forced. Exposing our children to the tools of mindfulness is helpful, but they must be allowed to chart their own course. One way to cultivate this is to model it in your own life. In this way, you offer an invitation instead of set an expectation.
How can you develop your own mindfulness to thoughtfully engage with the people around you? With mindfulness, you use the tools of your breath, your body, and your senses to become aware of your experience without judgment. This awareness allows you to respond thoughtfully to events as they unfold instead of reacting to them out of habit (such as arguing, withdrawing, or avoiding each time you feel an impulse). This might mean putting down the cell phone during dinner or in the car. It might mean sitting quietly with a child when the impulse is to do more work. Or it may even mean practicing regular meditation.
Mindfulness is contagious. When children see the impact of their parents’ and guardians’ mindfulness practice, they pay attention. In this way, one can use mindfulness to build and improve connection with others and to recognize our interdependence, leading to a more present and compassionate community for everyone.
Take The Next Step
If you’d like to learn more, join us on Monday, February 27 from 7 to 8:15 p.m. in the Middle School Community Room for Mindfulness Is For You: Tools for Parents and Guardians. This workshop will explore the science of stress, performance and mindfulness in an interactive, experiential format. We will introduce and explore several practical tools and strategies for bringing mindfulness to your life and to the experience of parenting.
Give mindfulness a try with a Moving From Thought to Sensation practice: