Mindfulness for Children (and Parents)

The day usually comes when we see our children cry and we ask, “Why?” The answer is, “I don’t know.” Emotions, stress and hormones are closely related. Each off these can in turn can greatly affect the others. Stress can cause hormone levels to rise and send a kid into a tailspin of emotions.

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Most of us know that stress from one person can have a domino effect reaction. Your child is stressed, you worry about your child, you go to work and perhaps take it out on someone else. Happiness, as well as stress, can travel up to 3 people removed from the original person who experiences it. The ripple effect happens whether we are happy or not. So, why don’t we choose happiness?¬†

Happiness is a huge topic being research at several universities throughout the world. Happiness seems to be as elusive as many concepts in Quantum physics- we know that it exists, we can experience but once we try to put into words exactly what it means we can be left speechless. However, even though researches have not found the ultimate reasoning behind happiness there have been some progress on finding certain aspects that may lead to happiness. One of those is self-regulation.

Self-regulation begins with “knowing thyself.” This can be challenging and be daunting. Most things that people do today is meant to do anything but know oneself- most things lead to running, hiding and distracting from knowing where we are emotionally, physically, and mentally. Even if we get close to know where we are we almost automatically want to change where we are. The motto of “working on oneself” can be a form of distraction as well. Making progress can be wonderful but if we are not aware of where we are in a given moment if is difficult to to know ourselves.

If parents struggle with this, children’s struggle is compounded by even less tools to deal with the stress of life. Self-regulation is a skill that can be learned. But it takes practice. Mindfulness is one way to begin the process of becoming more aware of where we are at any given moment. We don’t have to go on a retreat, we don’t have to close ourselves off to the world, or go to the top of a mountain. We can just begin by sitting and bringing awareness to our breath.

Many of us, myself included, freaked out and wanted more instruction. While there are many different ways of being mindful becoming aware of the breath is many times the beginning, middle and end of a practice- the one thing we can always go back to to ground ourselves in now. The main thing is to try to experience the breath, not just think about what it is like to breathe. I will some videos and resources in upcoming posts. But for now, just breathe. Before introducing it to your child try it every day for 3 minutes for a week. If your thoughts wander be kind to yourself. We train our brains constantly to jump to something else. Be gentle and bring your attention back to your breath.