Teaching Your Children to Value
When you were young, you may recall a parent or teacher telling you to ‘be mindful’. Today, the practice of being mindful is more than learning to keep one's hands to themselves on the playground. In fact, the practice of mindfulness is a movement and can be a wonderful way for children (as well as adults) to find a calm center, ease busy minds, learn to self-regulate emotions, and create an optimistic disposition and overall happy demeanor.
So what is mindfulness? Known to be rooted in meditation, mindfulness is the constant awareness of one’s feelings, thoughts, environment and feelings (mindfulness/definition). An essential component is the notion of acceptance so a child who learns to be mindful may learn to accept the answer of “no”.
Teaching kids to focus on their breath, bodies and mind can also teach them not to be attached to material items or being told ‘no’ when asking to do an activity. It stands to reason that a mindful child will learn to value the experiences of events in life rather than the materials items. How can parents and caregivers teach such things to their children? Here are components to help you jump on the mindfulness train and on the road to raising a mindful, non-materialist child:
- Pay Attention. Life can be a constant game where everyone in the family pays close attention to their reactions, emotions, feelings and breathing. You can talk about it, color or sing about the feelings – it doesn’t matter as long as you pay attention. The idea is to remain completely aware of how you’re feeling at any given moment, rather than reacting without thought.
- Notice without Judgment. We live in a culture of shame so it's important to teach your children to see how they feel in certain situations and the sensations such as the smells, sounds or taste that you may not typically notice while performing an everyday activity such as eating.
- Thoughts are Things. Teach your children to recognize that their ideas and emotions are short-lived and do not define them. Teach them the mantra “I am not my thoughts” to help them see themselves separate from unpleasant emotions they may not be able to name quite yet. This knowledge is an incredible skill to help kids learn to tune into themselves and gain power over impulsive behaviors and thoughts.
In our fast-paced world, there's no guarantee that your child won't beg for the latest expensive gadgets, footwear or video games. But with a little practice, you can guide your children on a journey to enjoying the simple things in life. Even kids growing up in today's society can learn the importance of fully embracing the moment. Children can be taught to remain in the present moment and rely on space within themselves to regroup if things become problematic in their lives.
For children and teens growing up in a culture driven by technology, immediate gratification and material items, the idea of providing them with an internal source of support from the pressures of the 21st Century is crucial if we want to raise happy, healthy adults. Just think - with a little luck you may find yourself living an entirely new and peaceful way.
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