As a parent, you’re probably always looking for ways to help your child become more focused. But it’s not always easy when children are still small! One good way to begin is to talk about feelings and thoughts with your child.
When they’re small, children cannot always name their emotions. They feel them – but knowing or understanding why they feel them is a different matter. That’s why it’s vital to talk to your child about actions that are driven by feelings – so that they can recognise them at a later date. Strong emotions like anger, fear, jealousy, and so on are frightening for small children to experience so talk to them about these things. Equally, discuss happy feelings such as joy, excitement, and love.
Introduce the idea of calmness
Once your child understands a little about their feelings, you can introduce the idea of calmness or a state of simply being and not feeling anything very strongly. Experiment with your child. Help them to sit quietly and listen to the sounds around them, smell the flowers in the window or the food cooking – whatever there is in the environment to notice. This in itself is mindfulness. The art of simply being.
Using mindfulness every day
If you notice your child becoming overly emotional about something, encourage them to practice some mindful breathing. Sitting still and breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth will calm them.
Mindfulness exercises have been shown to help children develop the skills needed to concentrate, remember and follow instructions as well as helping them to adapt to changing situations and wait for their turn. You can practice mindfulness at any time of the day and in any environment. You could be walking in the rain, waiting for the bus, sitting in a busy classroom.
Children and adolescents alike seem to enjoy mindfulness and indeed, many schools are now introducing it in the classroom like this boarding school in Wiltshire where it’s used to great effect judging by the academic success of the school as a whole. It’s a wonderful resource for children and can have powerful results for troubled children too.