Mindfulness is all the rage. There’s a reason why it has gained popularity. Mindfulness lives up to its claims to create a calmer, peaceful and more happy life. I’m definitely not a perfect practicer, but I always wonder what life would have been like if I was taught mindfulness when I was younger. I had never even heard the word mindfulness until about 6 years ago or so.
I made a vow to teach my daughter now what I learned later in life (and am still learning now!). But how the hell do I do that when she’s 1 and a half?? Here’s what I’ve noticed and been able to do so far. Turns out shes teaching me more than I’m teacher her.
Young children are always in a mindful state. If you’ve ever spent time around a young infant or child it can be mind boggling how quickly they can become distracted or fixated on a certain object. It is easy to envy their ability to have zero worries and never be thinking about the past or future. Little ones at this age trust 100 percent of the time that they will be taken care of and their needs will be met. Part of this can be credited to their cognitive ability, but part can also be to the fact that children at this age haven’t learned fear. It is so beautiful and I want it to stay that way forever. It will change, but we can help minimize the impact of fearful illusions.
Take a page from your baby’s book and be in the moment with them. Put the dishes and clean up aside and go color. Build that castle. Play outside and look at the world like you are discovering it for the first time as they are. It actually feels really good change focus from worries to all that’s unfolding in the present. After all, your child learns first from you. The way you react, your habits, all of it. When you find the urge to go into that auto pilot reaction, think of how you wish you would react and do that. No time to think, reflect on the situation and decide what you can do better next time. You will thank yourself when you see your child mimic the positive reaction rather than the negative one.
Think of your child the next time you want to go off on a sales clerk for taking 4 hours to fill a prescription (this was me just yesterday and I felt terrible after. I didn’t even get my full level of frustrated, but I suddenly wanted to apologize and show my daughter that’s not how we act. I drove back and apologized. She won’t remember but this will help me for when she will. Modeling mindful behaviors is a great way to teach your baby what to do without saying much.
Blow bubbles, take breaks and play with feathers. Blowing bubbles when your kid is having a melt down is a way to distract and promote deep breaths. Now sometimes this might not work and you might end up with bubble shit all over your floor. But sometimes, it will work. Get a few feathers from the dollar store and show your child how to keep it in the air by blowing on it. Model deep breaths when the going gets tough and have quiet time to just be together.
As your child gets older, they will understand more mindful concepts. There are a lot of great books out there on Mindfulness you can find in your local library or Amazon. But for now, they don’t really need that. Your child just needs you to show them they way.