In modern times, we are hearing more and more about the positive benefits associated with mindfulness and while many adults practice mindfulness, there is a lot of suggestion about how this concept can benefit and support early childhood development.
There has been a lot of research into the idea of practicing mindfulness with and around children and this has shown that there are many benefits. The Center For Healthy Minds and University of Wisconsin Madison, recently did a virtual presentation on these benefits and since then, many more people have begun to recognise the importance of mindfulness practices for children.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness simply refers to the practice of being in the present moment and paying attention to how you feel. There are several ways of practicing mindfulness from when you focus your attention on the breath to calm anxiety or simply noticing your thoughts during a quiet meditation.
How Can Mindfulness Support Early Childhood Development?
One of the first things that is obvious in children aged zero to three is that they pick on on the anything that their parent or even a teacher does and something else that is evident is that mental health problems are more of an issue in young children now than they have ever been.
This is why a lot of people are now taking a mindful parenting approach and many parents are seeking mindfulness training as a way of benefiting their kids.
A lot of this comes from the information we see from research and the media, such examples being the Mindfulness stress reduction training from Jon Kabat Zinn which shows participants the intense benefits of mindfulness based practices with kids in early childhood.
Increase Positive Moods
Much of the stress and anxiety we feel in life, whether in early childhood or as an adult, comes from a resistance to our feelings and this can effect our mental well being. But mindfulness helps the child to focus on what is happening in the now.
Many parents will discourage their child from expressing their emotions but research shows that this type of parenting does not raise an emotionally intelligent child. Mindful parenting helps the child find ways of accepting their feelings and facing them without judgement.
Toddlers can be particular emotional and often unable to express this but by forming healthy relationships with family and teachers, they will be feel more comfortable expressing their emotions, resulting in a more positive mood that can support early childhood development.
Better Decision Making
Research has shown us that adults who practice as little as 15 minutes of mindfulness a day are able to make much quicker decisions. This is because they tend not to hold on to thoughts or emotions from the past, whether this is relationships or part of their mental health.
Improves Emotional Regulation Skills
There is research that demonstrates that participants who regularly practiced mindfulness were more easily able to regulate their emotions thanks to how mindfulness-based activities change the brain function.
Increase Self Esteem
Negative self image is becoming more and more problematic for a child and and this can impact the rest of their life. Studies have shown that mindfulness-based practices can improve this greatly.
In addition to this, the child may also have improved body image as mindfulness in early childhood can improve physical aspects too. A quick Google search will yield plenty of mindfulness activities for zero to three and adults to improve self-esteem.
Improve Social Skills and Communication
Because the child will be working to understand their emotions, they will be better able to listen and communicate effectively with both another child and members of their family. This will support better child relationships with the family and others. It may also send a powerful message to those around them that the child is in control of their emotions.
How To Practice Mindfulness In Early Childhood
There is no denying that young children do not have a great attention span and you can attend as many focus groups about childhood disciplines and read as many articles on mindfulness in early childhood as you like and still not find the best way to get your zero to three kids involved.
According to one of many early childhood professionals, one of the best approaches is to involve kids in guided mindfulness meditation, but always keep it child-friendly. You mission here is to introduce mindfulness in a way that will work so keep it short, simple and fun. These best practices will help your child to gain a good understanding of the mindfulness practice.
But even before this, when they are babies, you can still take mindful approaches to parenting. Babies and infants respond very well to their parents and something as simple as mindful breathing as you feed your daughter or son can help to ground you both in the present moment.
You will find many an event or course that can help make a member ready to live a mindful lifestyle. Examples of this are the University of Wisconsin Madison school of human ecology. The school of human ecology here offers a family conference for mindful parenting and working with the emotional well being of children and toddlers. This takes place every year at one of several locations including the Center for healthy minds and the school itself.
Wherever you live, there will be a site that you can access some sort of mindfulness education. Some of the most well-renowned are those that practice age-old traditions such as the Zen center on 23rd street in New York; taking your family to these settings can be hugely beneficial for you all.
Learn From The Experts
Whether you attend a teaching event to learn about how mindfulness will benefit the well being of your child or search the internet for information, there is no denying that mindfulness does work. The results speak for themselves and there have been many member survey, research and studies that demonstrate these results. However, they can seem a little complicated, but there are many experts that will work with children and their families to improve their well being through mindfulness.
Maria Gehl is a project direction for early childhood at zero to three. Maria Gehl focuses her attention on mindfulness at zero to three and claims to have witnessed the benefits of this. As such, she does work in focus groups to support professionals and parents who want to improve the lives of their children.
Zero to three is a non-profit organisation that aims to provide training for those looking to help children have improved lives. Zero to three also places an important focus on the early child relationships and how these child relationships can benefit them growing up.
Elizabeth C Davies, Chair of child and family wellbeing and associate professor of human development at the Center for healthy minds works with Larissa Duncan, PhD. Together Larissa and the associate professor are known for their work in the area of mindfulness for pregnant women, children and teens.
In addition to this, Elizabeth C Davies, Chair and Larissa Duncan have planned research into the effects of mindful parenting on mothers’ mental health as well as how engaging in these childhood disciplines can benefit stress responses and neurological development in children and throughout their life. As a result of this, they hope to make mindfulness resources more readily available to both early childhood professionals and families.
If so many professionals are on board with including mindfulness in the life of a child, it stands to reason that there is an effectiveness to this practice.
Children are extraordinarily receptive and how they experience their early years will impact the rest of their lives. One of the main focus points of childhood experts right now is how mindfulness can produce incredible results and benefit a young person significantly.
From improved emotional health to better communication, professionals are demonstrating the advantages of mindful parenting more each day. Zero to Three is an organisation that prides itself on this and as such, you may be able to access an event to teach you more.
At the moment, these events may be virtual and one of many essential coronavirus resources, a virtual event can help to get your started on yours and your child’s mindfulness journey as quickly as possible.
You will soon notice how the practice changes the life of your child and allows them to develop from early childhood to adulthood with strength, confidence and self-esteem.