What can we learn from children about mindfulness? If you pay attention, you will gather a huge volume of knowledge about mindfulness by paying attention to children. I'm going to focus on the 2 words, ‘What If'. If you find yourself thinking these two words a lot, you may not be as mindful as you think you are. Or those two words may reveal to you why you’re struggling, why you’re not feeling grounded, why you experience scattered thoughts.
Just think about those words for a second. How often do they pass through your thoughts?
What if I don’t finish this report on time? What if that car veers over and hits me head-on? What if I get the corona virus?
We can start a million questions with WHAT IF, and does it do us any good? That’s something we could debate, but lets think for a second about children and how they think. Do any young children you know often ask the question, WHAT IF?
If they do, it’s probably because they’re learned that phrase from adults. In their most comfortable, happiest state, I’ve noticed that children are in the moment and seldom think about WHAT IF.
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7 Ways To Learn Mindfulness From Children
Listen, Listen, Listen. And as you listen, show interest showed genuine interest, ask questions, smile. When they tell you something, be genuine about, about your interest in what's going on in their minds and in their life. Sometimes it's important to get down physically on their level and then just listen to what they have to say. And I can't emphasize this enough. Being a great listener is such an important skill to develop and we can always improve at being a better listener.
2/ Find What Activities They Enjoy
Find out what activities they truly love and show interest. Now, my son loved Pokemon for a long time. So I would learn the names of some of the characters and ask him how he was doing in his recent Pokemon games. And, and I would ask him about YouTube videos that he would look at that were about Pokemon.
And I think that made a difference. I think it's really important to show genuine interest and find out what children really love. Like when I go into classrooms and I'm with children. They sit up and take notice when I say, hey, so what games do you like to play? Or what do you like to do after school? Or, you know, things like that. And it just shows genuine interest. So find out what activities they love.
3/ Know Their Name
It's so easy to mispronounce some names and I can be the world's worst at that at times. But when I'm with a group of kids, whether I'm teaching mindfulness or I'm at a school filling in for a teacher, I make an effort, a real true effort to get their name right.
And I tell them that right at the beginning of the day, I say, look, I will put every effort into getting your name right. And if I get it wrong, please, correct me. I want to know your name. I want to say it right. And you know, you've probably heard this before. There's no sweeter sound and hearing your own name. Of course don't overdo it. It's gotta be natural. It's gotta be comfortable when you refer to that, that person, but really make an effort to use the person's name. Use that child's name
4/ Tell Stories
Like most humans, children love stories, and they learn from them. And they particularly like stories about topics of their own personal interest. Makes sense. Right. If you know the child likes spiders, like they just have this really profound interest in spiders, then tell a story about a unique spider web you once saw or a story about a movie where there was a spider featured. If you really allow yourself a moment to think about it, you can probably remember an appropriate story. It might even be a post that you noticed on social media that relates to spiders.
5/ Offer Encouragement
5/ Offer Encouragement. So be as upbeat as possible and say at least three or four positive comments compared to every less positive comment. So now this takes a lot of practice and skill to do this, to convey lots of positive comments compared to your negative comments.
And as adults we're used to noticing what's wrong and then commenting on things, noticing what the child is doing wrong or what they need help with, you know, telling them how to do it. We're used to telling them to settle down, be quiet or be more careful, all these kinds of things. Aren't really the most positive. I mean, obviously you have to say things like that sometimes, but try to balance those kinds of comments off with statements like, wow, I noticed how quiet you were while the baby was sleeping well, that's, that's great. Thanks for doing that. Or, or gee, you're getting really good at putting your boots on yourself. Wow, terrific. You know, children really respond to that kind of thing.
6/ Show Relaxed Body Language
Children are reading our body language all the time and it speaks volumes to a child.
So yes, the words we say are critically important, but our body language can be very, very important. A lot of times we're in a hurry and we have to go and do so many different things. That busy and frantic frame of mind can display itself in our body language. So, so take the time to notice yourself and you know what? You might even, you might even try this. Use a video camera or your phone to shoot some video of you spending time with your child. Notice your body language. You might be surprised what you see on that video. And of course, make sure you get permission from anybody who might end up being in the video.
Showing relaxed body language and being aware of the body language that you are showing is a skill that takes time to develop.
7/ Smile and Laugh
7/ Smile and Laugh. I think we don’t laugh enough in life. When you spend time with children you see that they love to laugh. They love to smile. In their natural state, they are pretty happy.
They just really want to focus on what’s happening at the moment. They become connected with what's going on at the present moment. And I think the more we can go with the flow and encourage a happy pleasant atmosphere, the better it is. So smile and laugh as much as you can and you will become more mindful. And if you can become more mindful in your life, you, you will have less anxiety. You will feel more grounded. You will feel more focused. There are so many benefits to being more mindful.
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