Children Can Benefit From Mindfulness
April 11, 2014 Leave a comment
Considering all the stresses children experience, I am certain that children can benefit from Mindfulness.
Children can benefit from Mindfulness in many of the same ways adults benefit. Mindfulness can help children gain confidence and an understanding that behaviours like judgment, competition, self-hate and even bullying are often in response to stress and anxiety. The beauty is that Mindfulness can help the child manage their responses – not be controlled by an ‘event’.
3 Ways Children Can Benefit From Mindfulness
1. Thoughts Are Thoughts – Not Truths
Mindfulness helps children (and adults), learn that thoughts are not necessarily truths. For example, a thought that they might not be liked does not make it true; in reality the thought is simply an emotional response that has been triggered by an external influence… so Mindfulness helps them be aware of this and to explore what might be the trigger.
- Thoughts Are Not Necessarily Truths Situation: A popular friend does not say hello when they walk past. A child might think, “Oh No! They think I’m a loser.” The reality might be the popular person needs glasses… or more importantly, they might be experiencing a personal crisis and very soon need the support of their friendship.
Mindfulness helps children be aware of challenging emotions and to consciously respond to ‘what is’ not ‘what might be’ and potentially a negative path of judgment or self-judgment.
Children who practice Mindfulness can learn that when they experience challenging triggers they can control their responses and not get caught up in their thoughts or worse – become violent (often triggered by fear). In addition, by being aware of their thoughts, feelings, actions as well as the world they are part of (not on auto pilot), the child is likely to experience a greater sense of personal pride and respect.
Children can benefit from Mindfulness by learning to be conscious in the present moment – not on autopilot… which is a common complaint by adults of children.
Mindfulness helps children (and adults), learn to manage challenging thoughts and emotions by calmly, bringing awareness of their own feelings and kindness to the people around them.
A self-aware child knows what they are feeling and what it feels like when they are being triggered. For example: “When Bob passes me in the hall I feel nervous.” By recognizing this – they are now able to begin to unravel the reason why they feel nervous. And when the reason why is understood, a child can begin to choose how they respond to that and similar situations. Discovering self-awareness once again registers a sense of personal pride – in this case – of being in control instead of being controlled.
2 Celebrated Peoples Perspectives on Awareness and Autopilot
“We can easily zone along on autopilot for most of our lives,” writes Jon Kabat-Zinn (Professor of Medicine and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine), “meanwhile thinking we know what is happening, who we are, where we are going. That could be said to be our current default setting: the highly conditioned and tenacious mode of unawareness, of automatic pilot, of mindless doing.” And awareness isn’t a new discussion, Henry David Thoreau (American author, poet, philosopher, historian, and leading transcendentalist), wrote the following somewhat blunt passage of his impression of people in the 1800’s: The millions are awake enough for physical labor; but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion; only one in a hundred million to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive.”
3. Awareness Of Others
Being Mindful reminds us that there are always as many unique points of view as there are people in the room… and that this diversity is a good thing. When children are very young they learn in a binary way. Without Mindfulness, it’s very easy for children to consider there are only two points of view: right / wrong… win / lose… popular / not popular. Learning to accept that everyone has their own unique strengths and experiences will enrich their lives and is the basis for respectful creativity and synergy… and this diversity and acceptance bring stability.
It’s important for children (and adults), to see that if someone has a different belief that these people are not necessarily wrong; they are simply responding from a different point of view made up from entirely different life experiences and education. The value of open, respectful dialogue will give each child new insight and an opportunity to learn. While this is valuable for adults to learn, I believe this is doubly valuable for children to learn – to have as a grounding resource to help them through their turbulent formative years. I know it would have helped me.
From Dialogue & Questions Come Creative Answers & A Different Perspective
The Importance Of Listening
As a child learns to be Mindful they learn that they are empowered to do more than ‘fit in’. They begin to identify the opportunity where they can discover how their uniqueness and perspectives are not only valid… they are valuable whether they are making a conscious choice to follow society norms (as a personal preference), or allowing themselves and others to explore independent and perhaps creative ideas / opportunities.
Children can benefit from Mindfulness by becoming aware that they are responsible for their thoughts / their responses. The benefit is that Mindfulness and awareness are able to replace self-doubt, conflict and compromise with patience, calmness and respect for themselves and others; to work together to synergistically find a win-win solution that meets everyone’s needs.
Happy communicating and creating workplace harmony.
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