Mindfulness can help children improve their abilities to pay attention, to calm down when they are upset and to make better decisions. In short, it helps with emotional regulation and cognitive focus.
My 2-year-old son A, one fine day –
A (out of no where) : mumma, how to do dhyaan mudra? Pls do it for me
Me : ok here you go (and now you can see my son’s picture doing dhyaan mudra, above in this post)
And then he said, ‘family meditation time’ … And we both did Om chanting, Gayatri Mantra and Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra chanting together.
If you are wondering how to develop mindfulness in your toddler or how to introduce meditation or any spiritual exercise to your toddler (which is very important in today’s world), here are some tips on the same –
Start With Yourself
Start doing it yourself from today. Toddlers LOVE to imitate adults. You will wonder how beautifully they will start following you in no time & they will be proud of this fact too.
Set A Rhythm
Waldorf philosophy talks so much about setting a rhythm in a child’s life. It makes the life of this little being more predictable & setting a rhythm has so many more benefits. Set an everyday rhythm for any mindfuness exercise – which means meditating or chanting mantras at a specific time of the day every day so that the practice is set into the daily rhythm of toddlers – remember they do not have much sense of time or days as yet. We have started this ‘family meditation time’ as a ritual with me, my husband and my son every night to introduce him to what is called ‘silence lesson‘ in Montessori. Mindfulness and meditation come naturally to us – I’m an energy healer and Reiki practitioner myself and husband is a serious Yoga practitioner.
Sweet & Simple
Toddlers cannot process much so initially keep it super simple so that they are not overwhelmed with the entire exercise. You can even start with a simple Om chanting two or three times or just counting their breaths up to 5.
Keep Your Expectations Zero
Initially, when we started family meditation time, my son just roamed around in the room while I & my husband chanted mantras. But remember that children are listening & observing all the time, even the time when we think they are ignoring everything around them. Gradually he started sitting with us during chanting & now he chants along with us when he is in a good mood, but with eyes open hehe. When he is in a super playful mood, he even monkeys around on our laps while we chant. So the key here is to be consistent in our practice & kids will assimilate the practice gradually, but may not exhibit it always.
Do Not Limit Mindfulness To Meditation Or Chanting
Mindfulness is not just sitting with eyes closed & chanting mantras or concentrating on the breath. It also means being present & aware in your day to day tasks. One great way to be mindful when you are outdoors with your toddler is to make him listen the bird sounds, sound of the trees waving, sound of the water flowing in the streams and so on. We do this with our son & now he himself tells me when we are in a park, mumma, listen the koyal singing, mumma which bird’s sound is this, mumma, I hear an ambulance siren and so on. And many times we realize these sounds after our son tells us! And I wonder when did we lose this capability of registering everything that is happening around us…
Prayers & Gratitude
It is a great idea to involve the little ones in prayers. It is equally important to teach them to express gratitude. The only way is to say grace & courtesy words often ourselves – to our little imitating monkeys 🙂 It is so heart warming when my son says sweet thank yous when I set up new Montessori shelf activities for him or when I get him his favorite stuff to eat etc. And it is so funny & amusing to listen to something like this from my son – mumma, I got a glass of water for you, say thank you 🙂 🙂
Happy Parenting 🙂
This article was also featured on ChildSafeMedia on International Yoga Day 2017. Read HERE.