Kids today are growing up in a much different world than their parents. It wasn’t that many years ago that children spent a significant portion of their day involved in free play, both inside and outside. Their time was unstructured, and they used their imaginations and whatever else they had at their disposal to play, learn, and grow.
Our world is nearly unrecognizable from a few decades ago. We are more connected than ever, primarily through technology, and we are increasingly less connected with the here an now. People are extremely busy, working full-time while raising children and running from appointment to appointment. This hectic lifestyle is transferred to our children — they not only pick up on our anxiety and hurried lifestyle, but they have their own lessons, sports, and scheduled playdates. Children have less and less time to simply “be” and to connect with themselves and the world around them in a conscious way.
This is where the idea of “mindfulness” comes in. Realistically, our lives are not going to get less hectic. So, it’s beneficial to train ourselves and our children to process our experience a bit differently and mindfulness is one way to do that.
What is Mindfulness?
You may have heard or read about mindfulness, but have never fully grasped its purpose. It’s actually a very simple concept — mindfulness means being aware of the given moment and recognizing (and accepting) our body and our mind’s process during that moment. Emotions, thoughts, reactions, and feelings are all acknowledged and accepted without judgment. Mindfulness means that we are present in the moment and accepting of everything that it brings.
How Mindfulness Benefits Children
Using breathing and grounding techniques, mindfulness benefits children in a variety of ways. Research has shown that mindfulness increases a child’s attention, memory, and decision-making skills. It increases self-awareness, social awareness, and confidence. It also significantly increases a child’s empathy. A child who practices mindfulness is more resilient and better able to cope with everyday stressors and more capable of self-regulation.
Mindfulness gives children the tools to recognize and control how they deal with nearly anything they are faced with. When faced with a potential stressor, they are able to calmly step back and control their emotional response.
According to research conducted by the University of California in partnership with Mindful Schools, a program focuses on mindfulness in classrooms, benefits of mindfulness practice for young children include:
- Improved focus
- Improved grades
- Decreased stress
- Emotional regulation
- Increased compassion
- Increased conflict-resolution skills
Teaching mindfulness at a young age gives children the opportunity to develop certain life skills earlier, along with the opportunity to increase the benefits of those skills as they get older. Mindfulness is just one more piece of the puzzle that is raising a well-rounded young person. Contact us to learn more about how we incorporate mindfulness practice into our curriculum at Red Door Early Learning Center.