Everyone wants the best for their children and we do the best we can for them with the knowledge we have, just like our parents did for us.
Perhaps the most important thing we can do for our kids is to arm them with the tools they need to make the emotional roller coaster of life a little easier and in turn help them to be happier individuals.
The formative years
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An important thing to understand about the human mind is that until we reach the age of about 8 or 9, we haven’t yet developed a conscious mind, which means that until that time we are in subconscious mode, absorbing all information and basically learning how to handle life from our parental figures.
Bearing that in mind, you can see how significant it is to teach children to believe in themselves, build their self-esteem and instil positive behaviours as early as possible.
They don’t call them formative years for nothing!
Take care of yourself
Knowing that children learn from their parents, it may come as no surprise to hear that issues such as anxiety and depression can be picked up early on in life and become a normal part of the child’s behaviour.
If you’ve flown before then you’ll be familiar with the safety announcement just before take off where in the event of an emergency landing you’re advised to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others, even before your child!
That might seem very difficult to accept and it might even go against the instinct of a parent.
It just goes to show that if you don’t take care of yourself (i.e, your own mental health and wellbeing) then you won’t be as effective in helping those around you.
The Dalai Lama once said “If every child in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”
While we can’t know if his prediction would come true, he’s certainly got the right idea in teaching children to meditate as part of their daily routine.
The scientific evidence into the benefits of meditation is strong and it’s been proven to reduce stress, improve sleep, increase pain tolerance and increase our sense of wellbeing and peace.
Guided meditation is a great option for kids as it gives them a chance to focus their attention and use their imagination in a fun and engaging way.
Sources for children’s meditation
You can find plenty of children’s meditations online available to download and even for free on YouTube, or you might want to consider signing up for some group classes.
Mindfulness and meditation go hand in hand.
The practice of mindfulness involves being aware of the present moment and of the stream of thoughts passing through your mind without judgment or analysis.
We can often get lost in our thoughts, leading us into worry and negativity and so learning as a child that we are not our thoughts will make us much happier in the long run.
Most of us are taught to say please and thank you as soon as we can speak! But how about gratitude? Did you know that practicing gratitude can lead to a stronger immune system, more optimism and happiness and even make us feel less lonely and isolated?
According to Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. (the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude) we get all those benefits and more from practicing gratitude on a daily basis.
In a series of studies he helped people to cultivate gratitude by keeping a gratitude journal where they would record the things that they felt grateful for. He goes on to say that gratitude helps us to celebrate the present as it magnifies positive emotions and makes us appreciate the value in things making us less likely to take them for granted.
How about starting your own gratitude journal with your children and sharing your thoughts with each other? It’s also a great way to strengthen relationships and establish a happier family!
That takes care of the mental and spiritual side of things. But what about the physical? It is true that both the body and the mind need to work together for a happy and healthy lifestyle.
Look out for Part 2 of the article tomorrow where I will be explaining some simple adjustments you can make for raising happy children.
Connect with Expert Melissa Royle-Guimaraes