“The magic moment where they understand mindfulness is when they can catch themselves not paying attention. That’s their chance to control their impulsivity,” Boston dad Andre Kelly said. “It helps them stop themselves from doing things like jumping on the couch or whacking their younger brother.”
Kelly practices mindfulness meditation with his 10 year old son each morning before school. He is one of a growing number of parents who are teaching their children mindfulness practices such as meditation and yoga to help them relax and be calm.
Many more adults are starting to practice mindfulness and meditation to help guard against the damaging effects of stress. Parents know that their youngsters are not immune from those effects. In fact they find that mindfulness, the practice of focusing awareness in the present moment, helps to curb kids’ impulsivity and reduces the symptoms of depression.
Susan Kaiser Greenland, the author of The Mindful Child, called for a “mindful revolution in education” in a 2010 blog in the HuffPost. Her call to action includes integrating mindfulness into everyday activities as well as play.
She wrote, “Mindfulness is a refined process of attention that allows children to see the world through a lens of attention, balance and compassion. When children learn to look at the world with attention, balance and compassion they soon learn to be in the world with attention, balance and compassion.”
Not everyone agrees. In Ohio, a mindfulness program was shut down when parents complained that the practices are tied to Eastern religions. More recently, an Ashtanga yoga program was discontinued in California because of a lawsuit filed by parents who objected to what they felt were the inherently religious aspects of yoga practice.
Parents who embrace the practice of mindfulness and meditation in their own lives are eager to share their calm with their children.
“Taking the time to breathe and remember that my goal is to be kind in all of my interactions, including with my little girl, helps me show more patience instead of just getting immediately upset,” mother and CT Working Moms editor Michelle Noehren writes on HuffPost Parents. “As a wonderful consequence, I don’t yell anymore.”