Kids are born inherently mindful – they are much closer to experiencing present moment awareness than adults are. Even if they don’t always understand it or have the ability to verbalize the way that adults do, children often just feel what they’re feeling in the moment, say what they’re thinking and be more present in their responses. Obviously it is important to teach children to filter what is appropriate, but in doing so, parents sometimes discourage kids from acknowledging or expressing what is arising. Kids have a beautiful ability to experience each moment without always judging it or trying to change it – they are simply just in it. When they’re sad, they’re just sad; when they’re tired, they just want to sleep; and when they’re happy, the exuberance on their face shows it.
Over time, through socialization and conforming to social and educational norms, kids are often taught to put aside what is arising in the moment and not acknowledge what is going on. They are not always encouraged to delve further into their experience because sometimes “life happens” at times that may be inappropriate. Cultivating a mindfulness practice with kids gives them the tools to stay with their present moment experience and develop their authenticity.
Kids of any age can learn and benefit from a mindfulness practice. Teaching kids mindful breathing (breathing with awareness), how to slow down and the possibility for being still gives them the tools get back to their inherent connection with themselves. Kids (as well as their parents!) are so bombarded by constant distractions such as technology and digital devices, and our society is so fast paced that slowing down is often not fostered or encouraged. Mindfulness gives kids the chance to disconnect from sensory overload and allow for the opportunity to connect with themselves.