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  • Writer's pictureEloise

How can you help children to develop the superpower that is mindfulness?

If you ask an adult to explain the meaning of the word mindfulness, you may get many different answers. To some people it means 'being in the present moment' and some people feel you cannot achieve mindfulness unless you are meditating. I have asked the children I have worked with what they think it means to be mindful and these are some of the answers:

"It means you should mind out so you don't trip over anything"

"You have to mind your own business"

"You have to close your eyes and be quiet"

When I am helping children to be mindful, I explain that, to me, it simply means 'using your senses to notice things'. Children are experts at using their senses but they are sometimes in such a rush that they forget to notice how this makes them feel. Taking part in mindful activities outdoors gives children the space to slow down and really appreciate the smells, textures and sights around them.

Activities such as smelling scented plants like lavender, thyme and rosemary, touching and holding natural objects such as pine cones, bark or feathers, closely observing insects, watching birds and noticing the many and varied colours in the environment, give children opportunities to use their senses and to talk about how this makes them feel.

So why is being mindful good for children? Well, to start with, activities that are mindful help to create a feeling of calm and attentiveness that reduces stress in that moment. This helps children to replicate this same feeling in situations where they are under pressure. Learning how to pay more attention and to be less easily distracted is a positive benefit to children's ability to learn.

Slowing down and taking the time to listen helps children to get along better with others, it also helps them to develop patience. This means that they are more able to make and maintain friendships and this is a key factor in enabling children to feel happier and enjoy things more.

Being mindful helps people in just about every part of life and teaching children to be mindful gives them a chance to get really good at it so that they can benefit from it throughout their lives.

So next time you are spending time outdoors with children, have a go at using your senses to notice things. Stop to smell the flowers, run your hands over the textured bark of a tree or sit quietly and watch the birds, the wind in the trees or even the clouds and you will be helping them to learn this superpower skill that is mindfulness.

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