How to Practice Mindfulness with Your Kids During the Coronavirus Pandemic
By Ali Andelman
“People don’t realize that now is all there ever is; there is no past or future except as memory or anticipation of your mind.” – Eckhart Tolle
This quote reminds us that we thrive on routine. This is even more the case when something disrupts the monotony of our everyday lives. Something like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Suddenly, we no longer feel comforted in the predictability of the future. The coronavirus lockdown and social distancing took that away and instead brought us into the world of the unknown. As a result, children and adults are experiencing high levels of stress, depression and anxiety.
Luckily, mindfulness activities for kids can be implemented into your family’s daily life to help relieve stress. In this guide we’ll help you learn How to Practice Mindfulness with Your Kids During the Coronavirus Pandemic.
What is Mindfulness?
Before we dive in, you may be wondering: What is mindfulness?
According to a quote from mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”
For me, practicing mindfulness on a daily basis has become a habit since the pandemic hit. The mindfulness practice I follow consists of a combination of practicing yoga, meditation, journaling and reflection. A daily mindfulness practice has become a valuable tool for me, especially as I’m a single parent of three children who works part-time jobs from home (one of them is teaching kids yoga with Pretzel Kids yoga!)
I try to juggle this with running a household, monitoring school work and making sure my kids move their bodies on a daily basis. Yes, it’s a lot to handle!
Here at Pretzel Kids yoga, we believe that every child (and parent) can benefit from mindfulness tips, especially in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Read on to learn more.
Are You Ready to Practice Mindfulness with Your Kids?
Incorporating mindful practices into your life and making them a daily habit is one of the best things you can do to reduce anxiety, depression, fear and other negative emotions.
Plus, the more present and mindful you are with your children, the more they will benefit.
To back up a bit, children thrive on attention from their parents. For example, if you are present with your kids for 30 minutes a day, this is better than being distracted in the same room as your kids for three hours (think: if you’re on the phone, working on your computer, etc.) Children crave to be heard and seen by YOU!
Mindfulness is a way to do this.
To make matters worse, kids are also spending more time on screens during the COVID-19 pandemic – and this can lead to even more mental health issues. According to an article in Very Well Family, too much screen time can cause obesity, sleep problems, behavior issues, and educational problems.
Besides the fact that many kids now can’t participate in their usual after-school activities, you may be working from home and thus too busy to cater to your children once their school work is done.
3 Tips to Incorporate Mindfulness into your Family Life During Quarantine
Following these three mindfulness tips can keep you and your children feel less stressed:
1. Practice mindfulness yourself
Since children look up to parents and teachers as role models, your own mindfulness practice can have a profound impact on your children.
Plus, incorporating mindfulness into your family life will help you and your kids focus on being grateful in the moment. As a result, you’ll all become observers of your thoughts and feelings – instead of letting them impact your actions and behaviors.
I’ve seen this play out numerous times in my own life – even as a Pretzel Kids yoga teacher.
For years my own children were resistant to letting me teach kids yoga to them, even though they knew I taught kids their own ages!
Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, however, my children began asking me to teach them yoga and have even actively participated in my online kids yoga classes.
2. Start small with your own children
I recommend easing your child into learning mindfulness techniques. Too much too fast can backfire, causing them to resist. So, it’s important to teach your child mindfulness a little at a time.
Once you incorporate a mindfulness practice into your child’s life, make it a habit. Use cues from your child as to which mindfulness tool they enjoy.
For example, your daughter or son may enjoy a children’s meditation. There are great free meditation apps like Insight Timer and Calm that have specific children’s meditations. My first-grade daughter has been ending her bedtime routine every night listening to the same meditation about fireflies. She doesn’t want to go to sleep without hearing this same firefly meditation.
It’s now a habit.
In a 2009 study, the European Journal of Social Psychology found that, on average, it takes 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic. If you meditate consistently every day at the same time you too can create a habit.
According to the philosopher Lao Tzu: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
So, find a meditation that both you and your child love – and listen to it consistently at a time that works best.
3. Use mindful exercises which get you and your children moving
Kids yoga is a great mindful practice to bring you into the present moment.
One main purpose of yoga is to reduce your racing thoughts. This naturally brings you and your children into a calmer state of mind.
Here are some other benefits of teaching kids yoga:
- Teaching children’s yoga will create a huge mindful shift in all of your lives. Here at Pretzel Kids yoga, we design each class using kids yoga poses, games, breathing exercises and more. For example, if we have a jungle theme, we can incorporate poses with names of animals from the jungle. This makes learning mindfulness fun!
- You can teach kids yoga outside! Being outdoors is a great way to come out of your head and into the present moment. When you are outside, you can focus on nature, the sights around you, and your movement. You can even incorporate kids’ yoga poses with other healthy outdoor activities like bike riding, jogging, walking through nature, hiking, having a picnic, etc.
Make Mindfulness a Habit in Your Household
The best way to start practicing mindfulness is to, well, start practicing mindfulness! It costs nothing and requires no extra space (unless you incorporate yoga and movement!) What could be easier?
But, if you still need some tips to start teaching mindfulness to kids, follow the suggestions in this guide, and then make it a habit!
And remember this: The more present and mindful you are with your children, the more happy, mindful and resilient they will be. Are you ready to practice mindfulness with your kids? We thought so!
About Ali: Ali is a licensed Pretzel Kids teacher, certified yoga teacher, wellness expert and attorney. She currently teaches for YogaWorks and Pretzel Kids. Learn more about Ali’s Pretzel Kids classes here. You can also learn more about Ali on her website.