Karla Gilbert is an accredited Nutrition and Health Coach, and a mum of two girls. She shares her top mindfulness tips to help ease the pre-school nerves.
When I mention the word mindfulness, we all develop a different interpretation of what this actually means. Some will move towards thoughts of sitting in uncomfortable yoga poses, others will conjure thoughts of simply slowing down and being in the moment. Whatever your take of practising mindfulness means to you – it is the simple act of focussing attention on the present moment without judgement.
Practising mindfulness better prepares us to cope with daily stresses of life. It enables us to be aware of our thoughts, emotions and where we are placed on any particular day. The habit of practising mindfulness is a key component of living a healthy lifestyle which is why it makes sense to expose the life skill to our children from a young age.
Our children are experiencing the world around them at a rapid rate of knots. They are finding their boundaries and understanding what is and isn’t safe. This can surely translate into anxiety at stages of their development, so finding ways to incorporate mindfulness during these times is the first step.
Tiredness, overwhelm, anxiety and simply the unknown provide opportunities for our children to practice mindfulness. I know my own children suffered terrible pre-school jitters which lasted at least 6 months but crossing your fingers and hoping it goes away is not the way to approach things.
Mindfulness activities you can practice with your child can be fuss free and take no time at all. Obviously, young children find it hard to concentrate for long periods of time which is why using techniques that use small snippets of attention span being beneficial.
4 Mindfulness tips for pre-school kids
A ‘breathing minute’
All this means is children take a deep breath and check-in with themselves for a minute in a quiet spot. Younger children could even grab a couple of coloured pencils and draw how they are feeling or what colours they feel represent their moods.
Firm up a mindful mantra
This of course needs to be specific to the individual, so perhaps have this conversation with your child and see what speaks to them. It could be something as simple as ‘I feel calm’ or ‘peacefulness is inside me”, by repeating these words you are naturally assisting the mind/ body connection through affirmation.
Try some yoga poses or stretching with your child
Movement helps release and regulate built up emotions – use prompts such as “Can you stretch like a cat” or pretend you’re an elephant (swinging your arms around). Create some fun around it.
Focus on the senses
Take a walk outside around the neighbourhood. I used to refer to this as a nature walk. Together with your child, talk about the trees, the flowers you see and the insects you may encounter. Listen to the leaves blowing in the wind and birds chirping in the distance. This all helps bring them to the here and now and build a sense of perspective.
Incorporating mindfulness techniques into your child’s everyday life has powerful flow on effects. This is something they will learn to fall back on at times of need but most importantly develop an understanding that connecting with themselves and the environment around them will help them grow and flourish.