We all feel the need to do something to calm our monkey minds. This also applies to kids and teens. In fact, our minds are continuously distracted by various stimulants. When we are distracted more than our limits, our minds will take it as stress. The issue of stress can also occur in kids and teens. However, our little ones usually do not recognize it by themselves and they need us to relieve it. That is why we need to support ourselves and our kids for a healthier mind, body and spirit. The most working methods to combat the issue of stress both for kids and adults are found to be mindfulness and yoga practices.
Why mindfulness and yoga?
As modern human beings are more and more distracted day by day, the monkey mind state is a universal problem now. This happens to everyone, so you are not alone. This situation recently triggered mindfulness and yoga to be the most go-to methods.
Both mindfulness and yoga are based on Eastern practices. However, scientific experiments in the West also proved the benefits. Some Western experts even created programs for everyone to embrace these practices in daily life. So, it is globally proven!
Let’s now focus on how to invite ourselves and our kids to these practices. There are five tips that can help you create opportunities for mindfulness and yoga with kids.
The 5 steps
1) Create time and space
As a start of mindfulness and yoga with kids, we need to make time and space for ourselves and kids. You do not have to do everything at the same time or in one go. It is about creating the opportunities and spaces to breathe for your kids. This is not just for the practice purposes but also during the day. The aim is to help your kids and yourself to get as little distraction as possible. Here I say as little as possible because it might not be possible to remove all stimulants completely, such as excess toys, screens or any other noise.
Time is also important. Plan the times that you are going to invite your kids to a short yoga practice or calming the mind moment. This depends on your schedule as a family. However, most of the time early mornings are preferred before you all become tired, less energized or caught up with all the duties you have.
A break in the afternoon would also be nice to practice mindfulness and yoga with your kids. Moreover, you can do some short practices a couple of times a day. The more you practice the healthier you become as a family.
2) Observe and Accept
Mindfulness and yoga are gate openers to observing your inner self and outer world. This observation happens in a way that you have not experienced before. So, now you have time and space to sit together comfortably with your kids. This second tip is about making the statement of how you are doing and what is going on in your life.
So, take a deep breath in and exhale. Then ask this question: “How am I doing right here right now?’’
If the kids are not familiar with this practice, the parents can go first. You can talk about your own feelings or try to come up with ways to also help your kids express their feelings. Once you talk about your feelings or situation, at the same time you are acknowledging it. This is already a major step towards regulating stress and calming the mind.
3) Activities per age group
There are many ways to invite kids to mindfulness and yoga practices and these activities are categorized by age groups. Of course, the methods and activities in teaching mindfulness or yoga to younger kids are different than the ones used to teach teens. For a young kid to learn yoga, you can either just do your own yoga. By time you will see how your child imitates you and starts doing the same. I advise you to further look into one of our previous Delft Mama articles by Meredith for her advice on yoga with kids. There are also other ways like watching child-friendly yoga lessons from YouTube. One of my favorites is Cosmic Kids Yoga channel. Agashnee also mentioned it on her Delft MaMa post about home-based learning. I hope you already checked on it!
A Dutch mindfulness expert, Eline Snel, also created a special mindfulness method for different age groups. She named her method Sitting Still Like a Frog. You can start with the book as a guide to apply some mindfulness methods with your kids at home. You can even look for further training for yourself to become more informed on how to apply the methods.
4) Embrace the nature around you
Nature is the most helpful and healing resource. The best observations and real-life experiments are done in nature. However, at certain times you can face limitations to your resources of nature. You may not be able to go out due to certain restrictions. In this case, you can still think of some solutions that will help your kids to connect with nature. If you are not able to go out of the house, going out to the terrace or watching the sky from the balcony or window will be some options. Another solution is growing plants and vegetables inside your living place or in the extension area. Walking bare feet at home or playing with water are even more simple ways to connect with nature.
If you have the opportunity of going out to the green fields, forests, and beaches, then that’s great! Nature will help your kids to do more observation and experimentation better than anything available via screen. Being out in nature has healing effects for everyone.
You can also create that space you need to sit, meditate and do yoga in nature. Another mindfulness activity that can help your kids use their senses or discover nature is an outdoor scavenger hunt.
5) Check for trainings, schools and professionals
There is an increasing effort to add mindfulness and yoga in the school curriculum all over the world. There are some schools in the Netherlands which started to include mindfulness in their curriculum. The trend is increasing in the last five years. However, there is no standard yet all around the country. In some cases we see more teachers receive mindfulness training. This could mean that the teachers are more aware of mental health for their student and the benefit of mindfulness and yoga for that. In case your child is going to a school where there is mindfulness/yoga as part of the curriculum please write down in the comments or in Delft MaMa FB page.
There are times that are harder than others in our lives. This is also a fact for our children of young ages and teens. Children need more guidance to embrace how to be mindful or how to apply yoga in their daily lives. With our help they can process the difficult situations in their lives. Sometimes kids with specific issues prefer to visit psychologists because their parents are not the solution to everything. However, not everyone has the same opportunity to be referred to a medical person. Here mindfulness and yoga offer the tools to help all children.
Parents and teachers are the ones that have impact in the lives of children. Hopefully we will all be more educated and encouraged to guide our kids with the mindfulness and yoga methods.