Parenting is an amazing journey filled with love, joy, and challenges. Finding effective and affordable ways to support the well-being of your preschool-age children can be a daunting task. Did you know that mindfulness is a lifelong practice that requires nothing more than your time and attention?
In this blogpost we will dive into how important mindfulness is for preschool age children, what that has to do with mindful pediatrics, and we’ll share some short, practical, and fun mindful activities you can practice with your preschoolers that can be easily incorporated into your daily routine.
Why Mindfulness Matters for Preschoolers
Mindfulness is being present in the moment, fully aware of thoughts, emotions, and sensations, while withholding all judgment. While it may seem like a complex concept for young children, research suggests that mindfulness can significantly benefit preschoolers in numerous ways, including executive functioning and academics (Thierry, et al, 2016).
1. Regulating emotion:
Mindfulness helps children recognize and manage their emotions, thereby, creating a healthier approach to handling stress and anxiety.
2. Enhancing ability to focus:
Preschoolers can improve their concentration by learning to train their attention, leading to better learning outcomes and cognitive development.
3. Developing social skills:
Mindful activities help develop empathy, kindness, and understanding in young minds, laying a strong foundation for healthy relationships.
4. Improved sleep:
Implementing mindfulness routines (especially around bedtime) can lead to better sleep patterns for both children and caregivers/parents.
What in the World is Mindful Pediatrics?
Mindful pediatrics is an approach to healthcare that integrates mindfulness practices to support physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Recognizing the importance of nurturing the whole child is essential for optimal development and growth.
Integrating mindfulness into your child's daily life can create a nurturing environment where they feel safe to explore their emotions. Other benefits include the tendency to better build resiliency. Currently, fewer than 5% of all children were found to utilize mind-body methods to support health and well being, including mindfulness practices like meditation, breathwork, and emotional regulation (Bethell, et al, 2023).
Research demonstrates that mindfulness practices can improve both mental and physical health (Kohut & Saltzman, 2023). Many family practice offices are incorporating this strategy into their repertoire of care options for both children and caregivers. We recognize that healthcare for the complete person is essential for total wellness and healing.
With this shift toward more holistic care, we can expect to see the use of mindful activities among children increase as more families are exposed to this type of healthcare.
Easy, Fun & Short Activities You Can Practice with Your Preschoolers
We’ve compiled a short list of easy activities you can practice with your small children. Recognizing that parents and caregivers are busy and schedules are a necessity, we’ve kept it simple. Introducing mindfulness takes only minutes and can be easily incorporated into your daily routine.
1. Mindful Breathing (belly breathing):
Have your child lie down with a favorite stuffed animal on their belly. Instruct them to take deep breaths, feeling their buddy rise and fall with each inhale and exhale. This fun activity helps kids focus on their breath while providing a sense of comfort and connection.
2. Sensory Exploration:
Take a walk with your preschooler and encourage them to explore their senses mindfully. Ask them to feel the texture of leaves, listen to bird songs, smell flowers, and notice the different colors around them.
3. Mindful Eating:
Turn eating into a mindful experience. Encourage your child to observe the color, texture, and taste of food. Discuss the sensory impact together. Slowing down for family meals isn’t always the easiest, but it’s a great time to connect.
4. Color Wheel for Identifying Emotions:
Create a color wheel with various emotions (happy, sad, angry, etc.). Help your child identify and talk about their feelings by pointing to the corresponding colors on the wheel. While this activity is more time consuming than others, once the wheel is made, you will have this tool available for processing emotions on a daily basis. Here is an example of how to make one.
5. Mindful Movement:
Simple yoga or stretching exercises can be fun with your preschooler. Emphasize slow, intentional movements and encourage them to pay attention to how their bodies feel during each pose. This is an easy one to incorporate into your morning or evening routine.
6. Loving Kindness Affirmations:
Teach your child loving-kindness affirmations such as "May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be safe." Encourage them to send these positive vibes to themselves, family members, and friends. The more we practice this, the easier it becomes. Positive self-talk is crucial to growth.
The benefits of bringing mindfulness practices into your preschooler's life are transformative. These simple tools and small bits of time will help foster emotional resilience, develop focus skills, and contribute to overall well-being. Mindful activities serve as stepping stones to a complete and joyful journey for both you and your child.
Remember, mindfulness requires an open heart, and the willingness to be present with your littles as they explore the world around them.
Taking the time to focus on well-being and self-care is critical. Embrace these moments, and watch as your preschooler's inner world blooms with happiness and contentment.
Color wheel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi52p-lri08