Tips for Encouraging Mindfulness and Self Compassion in kids

Tips for Encouraging Mindfulness and Self Compassion in Kids

One of the benefits of living in this self-aware culture is the increased focus on emotional wellness. More than ever, people are recognizing the importance of mindfulness and self compassion, and learning powerful ways to help themselves. Naturally, this cultural wisdom is also being passed along to children at an earlier age. Here we talk about tips for encouraging mindfulness and self compassion in kids.

Learning and practicing these healthy skills in childhood is ideal. This is because the mind is still learning. Brain plasticity in children allows for easier learning of these emotional coping skills, which helps kids have more success in school and have better overall emotional control in daily life (Zelazo, Lyons, 2012). Anyone who has tried to learn a new skill in adulthood can relate to the feeling that this task would have been easier to learn as a child, before other patterns were learned and practiced repeatedly.

Simple Mindfulness and Stress Reduction Techniques:

  1. S.T.O.P. stands for: ask your child to Stop what he/she is doing. Take three deep breaths, breathing deeply into the belly and exhaling fully. Observe physical sensations, surroundings and emotions. Proceed and carry on with more awareness. (Schairer)

  1. Raisin meditation: Encourage your child to focus on a single raisin, observing size, shape, smell, texture and finally, taste. Lengthen this process into ten minutes to enable full mindful observation to take place and to allow for the mind to process all senses in the moment. (Vanderbilt.edu)

  1. 4-7-8 Breathing: To reduce feelings of anxiety and bring attention to the breath, encourage your child to try this simple form of focused breathing. Breathe in for a count of four; hold for a count of seven, breathe out for a count of eight. This style of breathing encourages relaxation by letting out more oxygen than one is taking in, sending relaxation messages to the brain. The benefit of the counting is to refocus attention on something concrete and within ones control. (dr.weil.com)

  1. Loving-Kindness with Self Compassion Meditation: Encourage your child to find a comfortable position and observe his/her physical state and emotions, including attention to breath. Have the child repeat the following “May I be safe, May I be peaceful, May I be kind to myself, May I accept myself as I am.” Teach your child to refocus attention to these phrases when the mind begins to wander, while paying attention to breathing. (Germer, C.) Furthermore, practicing this by yourself can support your own self-compassion.

There are many ways to teach mindfulness and self compassion to children. Similar to the ways adults learn to embrace these skills, simplified versions of these practices are beneficial to children, and easy to learn and utilize.

Contact us to learn more tips for encouraging mindfulness and self compassion in kids. We serve families of San Diego County, including Carlsbad, Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe, Escondido and surrounding cities.

Sources:

Zelazo, P., Lyons, K. (2012). The Potential Benefits of Mindfulness Training in Early Childhood: A Developmental Social Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective. University of Minnesota. Child Development Perspectives. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Philip_Zelazo2/publication/263756839_The_Potential_Benefits_of_Mindfulness_Training_in_Early_Childhood_A_Developmental_Social_Cognitive_Neuroscience_Perspective/links/5681a97408ae051f9aec5708.pdf

Schairer, S. (nd). 4 Exercises To Teach Your Kids About Mindfulness and Compassion. Retrieved from The Chopra Center, https://deepakchopra.com.

Mindfulness in the Classroom (nd). Retrieved from Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University at https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/contemplative-pedagogy/

Video: Breathing Exercises: 4,7,8 Breath (nd). Retrieved from http://www.drweil.com/videos-features/videos/breathing-exercises-4-7-8-breath/

Germer, C. (2009, April). The Mindful Path to Self Compassion: Freeing Yourself From Destructive Thoughts and Emotions. Retrieved from http://www.mindfulselfcompassion.org/meditations_instructions.php

About Susan Gehrig, PhD

Susan Gehrig, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and founder of Paradox Psychological Services located in Carlsbad. She has a passion for supporting the wellbeing of children and teens. Her expertise is in child mindfulness and self-compassion, cognitive behavioral therapy, and child development. Dr. Gehrig provides psychoeducational testing and therapy services to help build a plan for success. Paradox provides services for families of San Diego North County and greater areas.

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