You're never too young for mindfulness
Mindfulness has become a “buzzword” of late. Many posts on social media popping up, sales and adverts galore.
However, what does it even mean?
And, how can a child be mindful?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines mindfulness as:
For a long time now, children as young as 4 have been expected to attend a full day of school, 5 days per week and often are followed by evenings of after school clubs, or weekend activities. Whilst these clubs are fantastic, I believe all in moderation.
I hear often over children involved in over 3 clubs per week!
Clubs offer great experience, talent development and new skills along with socialisation. But what about free play? If children are never bored, how do they develop their imagination? Will they ever know how to spend time alone and manage their thoughts?
Being “busy” often makes a person appear popular, or in demand. However, often this leads to exhaustion, especially in adults.
We have developed a culture where rest equals laziness. However, rest is essential to maintain a functional mind and body. We have to recharge ourselves in order to be able to focus on our tasks (whether this is work/study or child rearing etc.).
We often hear the phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup”
This is so true! You would not let your phone battery die and expect it to work would you? So we also need to allow time to recharge ourselves.
To be able to do this, we need to be able to recognise our emotions and what they mean. You body will offer you warning signs! It is our job to know how these present and what we can do to aid our mind and body to stay in the best possible functional state.
In 2018 the Mental Health Foundation completed an online Poll with YouGov to assess stress levels:
“In the past year, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope”
That is an astonishing number!
Another study also conducted by a Social Psychologist at the University of Virginia noted:
“For 15 minutes, the team left participants alone in a lab room in which they could push a button and shock themselves if they wanted to. The results were startling: Even though all participants had previously stated that they would pay money to avoid being shocked with electricity, 67% of men and 25% of women chose to inflict it on themselves rather than just sit there quietly and think”
They had the option to just sit from 6 – 15 minutes alone in an empty room with their thoughts, or give themselves an electric shock! That is a large percentage of people who feel uncomfortable with their own thoughts!
So being mindful involves us exploring our thoughts. We observe our thoughts and sit with them. Notice how these thoughts are affecting us both physically and mentally. This aids us to recognise any difficulties we are having and then we can learn to deal with any uncomfortable feelings.
Many of us have no idea where to start! This is why starting from as young an age as possible is essential to make this practise “normal” for the younger generation. Then maybe if the above study was conducted again in years to come, we will see a much lower outcome of the electric shocks!
Start simple; discuss emotions and how they make you and your child feel. Explore what triggers these and how we could see situations from a different perspective. Learn to prevent explosive situations by taking time to be mindful of the situation you are in before reacting – this alone with practise can aid with anger outbursts and negative behaviours in my experience.
Try something new today, introduce you and your child to mindful approaches to life.
Enjoy each moment.
Casey Reece – Relax Kids Coach