As adults, we know what negative effects being on the internet can have on our mental health. From busy, preoccupied thoughts and low self-esteem to poor sleeping habits and an inability to live in the present; the internet, with its constant notifications and never-ending timelines, can wreak havoc on our minds.
Children are getting more and more tech-savvy, and as their exposure to the World Wide
Web increases, so does their vulnerability to all of the above. Mindfulness is one of the best
strategies to protect your child’s mental health as they grow up around the internet – and,
mindfulness will help your mental health, too.
Without further ado, here are some (surprising) ways that you can practise the vital art of
mindfulness with your child.
1. Go on a garden safari
If you have a back garden, this is perfect. Tell your child that you are both going on a safari expedition. Your child’s goal is to notice as many birds, bugs, creepy-crawlies and critters as they can – basically, anything that walks, crawls, jumps, swims, or flies. Anything that lives. Focus all of your senses on what you find
This ‘mindfulness safari’ helps your child to step out of their consciousness for even a brief
moment as they recognise lives other than their own. It gives you perspective and, as an
adult, you may appreciate how insignificant the safari makes you feel. It’s a fun activity for
your child, too!
2. Introduce a gratitude practice
Gratitude is a fundamental part of mindfulness and it teaches us to appreciate everything that we have and are grateful for. Give your children a moment to appreciate what they have, and make it a daily thing. It’s a proven technique which will assuage a child’s desire for things that they want (but do not need). It sounds a bit preachy, but it works.
3. Spidey-sense meditation
If your child is a superhero fan (SpiderMan in particular but you can still make it work if not) you can teach them to activate their ‘spidey-sense’ by asking them about what they can smell, taste, hear, and see – right now, at this present moment in time. Your child will learn how to not get caught up in things so that they can take stock of what they feel like.
4. Sit like a frog
That’s right – sit like a frog. Invite your child to be like a frog, sitting very still on their lily pad. Breathe carefully. If your child moves too much the lily pad will tip over! Teach your child to sit still and focus on their steady breathing. It sounds bizarre but it works!
5. Five senses exercise
This is a fundamental mindfulness exercise for adults but it works just as well for children.
Ask your child to name each of their five senses, and the things they can sense: what they
can see, what they can feel, what they can hear, what they can smell, and what they can
taste. You can make it fun using Post-It notes maybe, or have your child call out each sense in a funny voice. This method is quick, easy, and effective.
6. One last tip – have a ‘reward system’
Remember that mindfulness activities might not be as fun for your children as they are for you – this is why the above activities all have a fun ‘twist’ here and there. What will help is a reward system of sorts. Nothing too extravagant – Toys For A Pound have loads of cheap and affordable toys with which you can incentivise mindfulness. Before you know it, your child will be practising it on their own.