In today’s day and age of screen-time and busy schedules, it can be difficult for parents and children to find time to unwind. From school to play dates and activities such as sports, dance classes, etc., it can be hard to find a moment to rest. For many years, mindfulness was used as a tool to treat children and adolescents with conditions ranging from ADHD to anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, depression and stress. In the last few years, mindfulness has also emerged as a means of assisting children in coping with their day-to-day routines. To ensure that they have a safe space to ease some of the stressors, schools in California, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C., have been introducing mindfulness into the classroom. Schools are not alone in their quest to help the students. Here at the Nanny Authority, a domestic staffing agency that places nannies with families nationwide, we have been noticing a trend of fathers (both married and single) reaching out to our agency for nannies that can help their children tap into this trait.
Practicing mindfulness has been found to be integral to personal happiness and improving physical health. Dads that are mentally well-rested can better focus on children and family life. There are many ways that parents can achieve this emotional stillness, including but not limited to the following:
- Meditation: Meditation helps calm the mind and achieve inner stability. One of the best times to meditate is early in the morning, before you set out to tackle the day’s itinerary. However, that timeframe doesn’t work for every parent so play around with what works best for you. It could even be while you’re washing the dishes! It might seem small but meditating for 20 minutes a day has shown to decrease stress and anxiety, help with insomnia, and improve mental clarity.
- Stay Present: One of the most important things a parent can do during their interaction with their child is to stay present. It’s nice to take pictures during sports games or dance recitals to commemorate the event, but parents should concentrate on their child’s physical presence and not so much on getting the perfect shot.
- Parent by Example: Children are shaped by their parents’ actions. Once your child sees you engaging in the act of mindfulness, they will be likelier to incorporate it into their own life. Children also absorb their parent’s peaceful energy, improving their all-around health.
It can be difficult for parents to practice mindfulness with their children during the day and so, many parents look to nannies for assistance. Our nannies are well-versed in the following practices:
- Emotional Development: Children that are present in the moment are considered to be better in tune with their emotions, and are often better at empathizing with others. Activities that encourage emotional development include non-aggressive ways to release emotions such as doing jumping jacks or writing down their feelings and possible solutions to the problem.
- Walking: Walking helps strengthen the body and brain by sharpening memory, honing observation skills, and increasing relaxation. Children also view a walk with their parent or caregiver as a safe environment and might choose to discuss their feelings on current happenings, both in their lives and on worldly events.
- Sensory Play: Sensory play is an integral part of a young child’s development. Through sensory play, children learn about the five senses, develop motor skills and coordination, and improve their concentration. These activities include listening to an instrumental track, experimenting with play-doh, and playing in the sand.
- Bedtime: Any parent knows how hard it can be to calm down an excited child at bedtime so it’s a great opportunity for parents and children to practice mindfulness together. Some ways to do this include establishing a routine, breathing exercises, and having a “gratitude” talk. A gratitude talk allows children to express what they’re thankful for. It helps increase happiness, improves self-esteem, and allows children to sleep better. Gratitude also encourages perspective. Parents should take this opportunity to remind their children how special and loved they are.
It is important to teach our children how to be present throughout the course of their day. Ultimately, this will help them keep in touch with their inner self as well as strengthen their emotional relationships with others, setting the trajectory for their future. The expression “it takes a village” is especially true when it comes to mindfulness. Caregivers such as nannies, teachers, close family members or friends all have an impact on your child. It is incredibly important that they are aware of the mindfulness values you are trying to instill in your children so that they can strive to teach by example.