Depression affects over 300 million people globally, and with our constantly-on world, countless social media apps, and fast pace of life, young people are more likely to suffer from poor mental health than ever. Although not a new technique, mindfulness — the act of fully paying attention to the present moment—is becoming increasingly popular in the modern world.
Studies have found that it can be useful when treating depression, and teaching meditative practices to children has proven especially beneficial. Parents and their infants can practice simple mindfulness techniques such as making eye contact and smiling. Children and teenagers at each developmental stage can use breathing and meditation exercises, introducing them as a regular part of their day.
Mindfulness techniques can help children better manage their emotions, decrease tantrums, and minimise anxiety. It also helps in promoting happiness and helping them truly focus. The key is to present mindfulness as a positive routine for every day – not just in times of stress. Since children today have to juggle so much, not only in school but in life, we’ve put together useful strategies to help them keep their balance.
You can only explain mindfulness by being a role model. Work on being present and calm; focus on your children and make sure you are giving them your full attention. Modelling is one of the best teaching methods for little children: show them how to be mindful, don’t just tell them.
Younger kids might feel awkward about meditating at first but making it a fun activity will keep them interested. Be consistent and teach your children a healthy daily routine for stress release. Practice the three-breath hug, count breaths, notice your surroundings or listen quietly, or use the S.T.O.P. technique when feeling frustrated:
Downloading meditation apps for kids can be great in encouraging tranquillity in an otherwise hectic household. Some sessions only take a few minutes a day and it can be a bonding activity for families before bed.
There are some useful mindfulness apps such as MyLife, which includes free guided meditations and mindfulness activities for kids, or the child-friendly app Smiling Mind. Through these apps, children and teenagers can learn to be present and mindful of the current moment— thereby reducing anxious thoughts and promoting harmony.
Keeping lines of communication open for kids is very important. Make sure children know they can talk about anything, any feelings, positive or negative, and help them to notice their thoughts and emotions. If they learn to be aware of their inner self, it can help them choose their response wisely.
The Japanese call it Shinrin-yoku, which translates as ‘forest bathing’. Many studies show that spending mindful time in the woods or forest can be hugely beneficial for your overall health and can help reduce depression, stress and anxiety. Take your kids for a woodland adventure and you’ll all come home relaxed.
Simple, creative activities at home can make children feel safe and comfortable. These can also help in increasing happiness and enjoying the present moment to the fullest. Switching off mobile devices and television sets reduce distractions and aids thinking ‘outside the box’. Activities at home could include, a little craft project, delicious home baking, listening to birdsong or the soundtrack of the sea, creative journals, reading or writing stories—all at their own pace.
Last word of advice, don’t leave your child’s future to chance! Discover how Future Generali’s Health Insurance can support your child’s mental and overall health, both today and tomorrow.