Why mindfulness for your child starts with you

Many parents see their children suffering: with anxiety, anger, self-consciousness, shame. They want to alleviate the problem. They look to the years ahead, knowing that more challenges lie in wait for their child. If Primary School is this difficult, what's going to happen when Secondary School looms? When puberty hits? When their network of friends shifts into a new shape. When a mean classmate wields the social power of Snapchat?

Teaching mindfulness to children is a great way to help them develop resources, resilience, reduce stress and increase joy. And the single most powerful way to do it is to learn and practice by their side. You explore together, cultivating a space that's calm and peaceful, and above all else - a space that is kind.

You need to let your practice be seen. If things are getting difficult, pause and take a breath. Coming in after a frustrating day, sit down and do a body practice like 'starfish'. If you've ended up shouting, give yourself a moment to feel calmer, with 3 long deep breaths. Let it be visible. You don't even need to draw attention to it; simply practice in plain sight. 

Children don't do what you say, they do what you do (most of us learn that the hard way!). They are our greatest observers, scanning every look, deciphering each tone of voice. They take in all the signals we don't even know we're sending out.

The power of seeing a parent learning how to take care of their difficult emotions and nourish their joy cannot be underestimated. It brings the practice to life - right to the heart of our real, messy, daily life. When you model your practice, children learn a flexible, creative form of mindfulness that will be there to support them at any age, in any circumstance. 

And what a tremendous gift that is.