Mindfulness for Children Part 3 – Bonding with your children using mindfulness techniques.
This blog series will be useful for all of the parents who have kids of their own and for the teachers, caretakers, and adults who are surrounded by kids in their daily lives. Some adults bond with children instantaneously whereas others will take more time on some occasions. Sometimes, as adults, we live in our own head space and find it difficult to bond with children. In all fairness, there is a lot going on these days and in the targets we are setting for ourselves etc. The key is to not be stressed about it, but rather, taking a slight step backward to be able to STEP INTO stress-free time with children to share fun times together.
Below are 5 mindfulness techniques to encourage bonding with children:
Listening is the most important skillset as a parent; to be present and just listen. If the child’s speech is not clear or it’s gobble goo, even as a young child, they know and sense you are listening. If we can spend a minimum of 10 minutes with a child in an attentive way, the relationship is going to have a strong bond long-term. For instance, with my children, I try to spend quality time with them in the mornings when I wake them. They are fresh and ready to share so much information. It’s fascinating to hear their dreams and imaginations before getting into a busy routine. This could also be done at the breakfast table or some parents choose to bond in the evening after school/college, at the dinner table, or before bedtime. The choice is ours depending on our individual lifestyle or specific times we have with them. Remember, these memories will last a lifetime.
Think about the bonding they share with their grandparents. The relationship is strong because they take the time to listen to them patiently. It’s never too later to start this or to remind ourselves to be more attentive listeners and we are training them to be better listeners, too.
Spending time with mandala art, colouring, or craft work helps children to unwind, bond, and share their stories. I found that if I share my feelings and let them do the same over an art table, it’s easier because you are letting go without restraints. Also, the flow of words comes easier when you are working with colours or crafts.
In creative moments, our bodies and minds are relaxed and we can chill into the deeper parts of us. I hear surprising stories as a result of these activities such as a portion of an old memory or some past emotion that was bothering them had spilled out but in a gentle way. “I know my kids” is what we think, but it’s a deeper knowing of them that comes during these moments. We can truly get in touch with this little strong person who has their own views and opinions.
Encourage this communication as this builds their personality and confidence. With my own children, I may learn of some incidents happening at school that had been bothering them, as a result of these conversations, and this practice helps them learn to speak up too. I can share my own experiences with them as well and then they know we are at their level to better understand them. Their opinions are heard and they receive confirmation that their voice matters to adults.
Games like Ludo, Monopoly, and Jenga help with building, focusing, and team strengths. Partner up with children and bring along the teamwork. Small games make way to the heart. Between me and my husband, we take turns with our strengths as to who will be on the floor with the kids. My strength is with art stuff and their dad is in crafts and games. The more mindful we are of our strengths, the better quality time we can spend with them. Outdoor activities are great too, as we can all connect with nature by taking mindful walks to notice what’s around and beneath us. This gives us the chance to slow down, calm our lives, and take a break from busy schedules.
If necessary, take the time to apologise to your children. Teach them that it’s okay to say sorry and adults make mistakes too. But also, we are showing them that we respect and honour who they are by accepting their mistakes. It’s okay to make mistakes and realise those errors rather than carry on with that burden. This is being mindful of our emotions and feelings. I remember the first time I apologised to my children. They were 3 and 5 years old and I apologised for raising my voice. I was in tears afterward as it was such a powerful experience to have that release and I felt good about it after the fact. It also felt good to know deep down that they understood my emotions. Now they know that if they are sorry about something to just say it. Be honest. Teach by doing rather than by saying.
My children and I do share what we’re grateful for and pray every night before bedtime. This creates a nightly ritual with them while focusing on what made them happy to be able to carry that beauty into the next day. This helps us realise we are all sleeping with light hearts and in peace. Once again, acknowledging the goodness around and sooner releasing the harder emotions beneath.
I am sharing these techniques from my own experiences with parenting and also from my interaction with kids at schools that I teach mindfulness. I am learning from the kids every day how to bond, as there is no manual. We all learn from each other. But once we understand that we have an inner child and we don’t always need to be the one in the right being the parent or adult, it’s easier to bond with children. Simple joyful moments is the way into their hearts. They bond with the fun-loving child within you much easier, and remember, we all have one.
Let me know if you practice a different technique in the comments section below!
In today’s rush, we all think too much — seek too much — want too much — and forget about the joy of just being. – Eckhart Tolle
In Part 4 of this series, I’ll wrap things up by discussing how mindfulness tools are effective and can be used in our daily lives without further complicating them.
See you next week for the conclusion of this series!