Encouraging Mindfulness in Toddlers
In this article, I will take you through some simple ways to help encourage mindfulness in toddlers. This will also help you introduce breathwork to your children. You’ll find and appreciate the beauty in giving your children the ability to be mindful and navigate their emotions by starting them young. Most adults who are just discovering the benefits of breathwork in their lives just now will agree that they would have loved to have learned this sooner. And so for kids, we would like to introduce this practice in a very fun and loving way.
Children are highly receptive to activities that are playful; these routines and learnings all build well in their memory as their brains are in states of joy, which activates effortless and open processing and retention of any information instilled within these fun activities. This is why the best way to open up young minds to learning is to find ways to keep their activities fun and playful. The best part is that you don’t need any complicated instruments or gadgets. All you need is your imagination, your breath, and your own inner sense of childlike playfulness.
For example, one simple way to start teaching breathwork to kids is by using a candle. Safely light one on top of a table and watch the flickering flame together. Let your kids focus on that flame and gently take a nice breath. Now, let them exhale slowly towards the flame – from a safe distance – and let them observe how the flame on the candle begins to dance. With that gentle breath, the aim is not to let the flame die out by controlling the breathing to let out just enough air to keep the flame burning. Children love watching this and are quite amazed by the tiny dancing light on a candle; let them connect with that light.
Another great way to instill mindfulness is to make sure they are always observant using their senses. Taking strolls in nature or in one’s garden is one simple way to have a sensory experience with kids. Allow them to see, smell, hear, and touch their surroundings; and create games around these. What do you smell? What colors are around you? Do you hear a little creature making sounds? A simple game that is known by most in which you can apply this concept is “I Spy”. From there, you can broaden it to help your kids use and enjoy their senses. Creating a sense of adventure through simple activities always helps in engaging our children.
Aside from adventures, food is also a great way to get the kids all excited. And having them involved in food preparation makes it even more exciting. It’s another sensory activity to get their hands on the ingredients and get familiar with the many wonderful textures and smells. All the more with fresh ingredients, where you can take advantage of using colorful fruits and vegetables. Preparing food also helps prepare them with life skills. It’s a creative way of developing positive attitudes around food. This is also a good chance to introduce them to the relationship between the body, their food intake, and how it gets converted into energy the moment it enters their body. Letting them know the kind of good food they let into their bodies will give them a sense of responsibility over their own health at an early age.
Teaching kids about breathing techniques – that taking slow, deep breaths whenever they feel restless or angry can help them become more aware of the “big person feelings” and how to tame their “angry bears in the belly.” So each time they encounter these big feelings they can have a better understanding that these are normal and they can in fact take control of their inner bears, know their bears, and befriend them easily through breathwork. Better awareness of emotions can help us raise children with a broader understanding, therefore giving them a better sense of inner balance.
Another great thing to develop as a regular routine is ending the day with positive thoughts before going to sleep. While lying in bed, take a little moment to go through the day with your child and ask them, “What was your favorite part of today? What was something that you find really nice about this day?” Encourage them to talk about their experience and their feelings, and try to see their everyday lives through their eyes. In the case of not-so-good days, this exercise is also helpful to take your kid through his or her day and address their worries or any feelings of sadness, for example. This creates a circle of trust and openness in the family, and enables your children to be openly in touch with their true emotions; no filters, no hiding. Just pure learning that it’s normal to have different emotional responses to particular instances, and that humans have a “superpower” to feel a broad range of emotions; that is part of being truly connected to their inner self.
Allowing your children to be completely open creates a space of positive energy within the family circle. When they have this sense of security and trust instilled in them, it helps them to know how to navigate through the many different layers and complexities of human behavior later on in life.
Lastly, giving our children a sense of security is greatly important. Hugging is the most loving and tactile way to let them feel that they are loved and that they belong. This is why having their dolls and teddy bears and other huggie toys close to them is something that gives them a sense of warmth and goodness; they impart the concept of hugging to their favorite toys as a reflection of what they pick up from us when we give them frequent warm hugs. This is the power of the human touch, it channels positive, kind, and loving energies. And this is a concept that they will carry with them when they grow up.
Wishing you lots of love, peace, and wisdom.