The term “Mindfulness” has been something of a buzzword over the last twenty years or so, and for good reason.
There are clinical studies and peer reviewed data that back up the effectiveness of mindfulness practice on happiness, focus, and emotional regulation in human beings.
There are companies that have started to conduct optional mindfulness training for their employees at the workplace and many psychologists use mindfulness practice as a suggestion for their patients to treat conditions they are experiencing.
This blog post is going to touch on why mindfulness is important and beneficial for children, especially those that suffer from anxiety.
Mindfulness practice can be harnessed as a tool or practice that can calm children with anxiety and help them regulate the powerful emotions that they feel in the moment.
Doing this improves pretty much every facet of their young lives.
What is Mindfulness?
To put it simply, Mindfulness is the moment to moment awareness of what is happening at any given time.
In your normal day-to-day life, you might walk up a flight of stairs. As you walk up the stairs, your mind is racing and you are most likely thinking of what you’re going to make for dinner or about what your boss said to you the day before.
Maybe you’re thinking about the conversation you are on your way to having with your co-worker who you are on your way to see.
Nonetheless, you are NOT placing all of your attention on what is happening in the present moment.
Here’s what it would look like if you were walking up the steps mindfully….
You notice the color, shape, and texture of the stairs as you walk up each one of them. You notice the feeling of your feet touching the inside of your shoes and the sensation of moving your legs front to back as you ascend.
You notice the sensation of your hand on the railing as you climb the stairs. You notice the temperature of the metal as your hand slides up the railing, slowly.
You may have thoughts that come into your awareness as you climb the stairs, which you do not engage with.
Instead you simply notice that you are having a thought and you let it go.
All of your senses are fully engaged in what you are experiencing at this moment, which is climbing a flight of stairs.
Mindfulness for Children with Anxiety
Anyone who has experienced anxiety knows how unpleasant the thoughts and feelings that come along with it can be.
As adults, we have the coping skills to compartmentalize and get through the day, however there are many adults who have crippling anxiety which makes it difficult for them to function at all.
Children do not have the same coping strategies and emotional regulation that adults have. Therefore, when they experience anxiety, the panic and intense emotions take center stage and cause difficulties in relationships, learning, and with environmental adaptation.
Mindfulness practice can help relieve the anxiety that children might feel in the moment and equip them with skills to cope with their anxiety in the future as well.
Here is a quick mindfulness exercise you can teach to children with anxiety when they are having trouble coping.
Step 1: Notice
Instruct the child to look around the environment and choose one object to “notice”.
Step 2: Label
Tell the child to label how they are noticing the object (i.e. “see” if it is an object they are looking at, or “feel” if it is an object they are touching or holding).
Step 3: Describe
Have the child describe the features of the object (i.e. it’s big, orange, round, fuzzy, soft, loud, quiet, green, bumpy, etc.)
Step 4: Repeat Using Other Senses
Once this is done with one object, using one of the senses, have the child repeat the same process with different objects, sights, sounds, etc. in the environment until they are calm.
Check out this post for more guided mindfulness exercises for children with anxiety!
Mindfulness practice has lots of benefits to offer for children with anxiety.
It helps root them in the present moment and diverts their concentration to objects and happenings in their current environment in the present time.
We hope that this post may spark some curiosity in you and we encourage you to look more into mindfulness for children, especially if you have a child with anxiety.
Mindfulness Practice and DeveloPLAY
The Developlay Box is designed to promote healthy sensory motor development in children with anxiety, autism, and ADHD.
Each month, you will receive a new box with hand-picked toys and tools for your children.
Using mindfulness practice with DeveloPLAY toys is greatly beneficial for children because each DeveloPLAY box is packed with sensory experiences for children to be mindful of.
We have made it super easy and convenient for you to sign up, and we ship your box right to your door!
Sign up below for more info!