Info for Parents/Caregivers
Everyone experiences stress and anxiety — parents and children alike. As an adult, it’s not always easy to manage stress, but for children, it can be very difficult. Mindfulness can be the solution.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness involves maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment non-judgmentally and on purpose.
How can mindfulness help?
Sometimes, you may feel that your and your children’s energy and stress “tanks” are running on empty. With long days of work and school and other activities, there may be little time to sit and relax and to enjoy each other’s company. Mindfulness helps you raise your own and your child’s awareness of the mind and body sensors in response to stress, emotions, thoughts and feelings. This awareness then helps you focus on exactly what’s happening in your body and mind which, in turn, brings you to present-moment awareness and helps you manage thoughts and feelings, even in very stressful situations.
As a parent, it’s hard not to focus on the past and future. You may worry about the past — what you or your child did or didn’t do — or about the future — what might happen if you do or don’t do specific things. Mindfulness brings you into these moments and makes you more aware of these feelings. It allows you and your children to let things go and accept and embrace the fact that you cannot control the future or change the past. Mindfulness does, however, gives you more time – and more meaningful time - in the present.
Helping children to be mindful
Mindfulness is not a skill child learn by themselves.
They can learn these skills in two ways:
· by watching how you deal with stress — when they see you manage a stressful situation calmly, they will be calm too
· by learning simple, practical strategies that build self-awareness and self-reflection — when your child understands the impact of anxiety or stress on his mind and body, he becomes able to recognize those signs. And he can then take steps to calm himself down so he can do that math test or get that needle that he is so scared of.
Helping your child develop mindfulness involves helping her notice what is happening right now. Instead of being reactive and responding in ways that create more stress and anxiety, by being mindful and becoming aware of how she feels, your child can learn to create a space between a strong emotion and what she does about it. She learns to stay calm and make better decisions, leading her to feel happier and more in control.
Does mindfulness really help?
Research on the impact of children and adults using mindfulness techniques has shown the following benefits:
· Improved impulse control
· Improved ability to focus ad concentrate throughout the day
· Improved emotional and social skills
· Improved self-regulation, behaviour and emotion management
· Change in brain architecture in response to stress, reducing the impact of stress and anxiety
· Increased ability to be empathetic and understand their own and other’s emotions and feelings (children)