Are you struggling to deal with your child’s anger and restlessness? It is perhaps the number one issue that parents face today. Let’s explore how to deal with this issue and other behavior problems in children.
Anger usually manifests as emotional symptoms like throwing tantrums, getting annoyed over small things, challenging authority, disobeying rules and regulations, being nervous and anxious most of the time, putting the blame on others, frustration over minor issues, and more.
However, it does not have to be this way. All of the above symptoms reduce by adopting mindfulness techniques.
Before you dismiss mindfulness as some New Age fad, let me tell you that mindfulness ages back thousands of years, and forms one of the core aspects of Buddhist practices.
Irrespective of its origins, it has nothing to do with religion. It does not ascribe to either rigid dogmas or radical ideas. It is merely a way of observing your thoughts and emotions without creating any reaction or judgment.
This simple observation technique creates mind-body awareness and enables us to get in touch with thoughts, feelings, and emotions that we have buried in the mind’s deep recesses.
The Need To Teach Mindfulness to Children At Early Age
I have bad news for you. It’s quite apparent, but we have not made it easy for our kids. We might think otherwise, but we unconsciously pass on our fears, insecurities, biases, and prejudices onto our children’s innocent minds.
By projecting our insecurities and fears, we kill their curious mind. A creative mind capable of infinite possibilities gets reduced significantly by narrow thinking.
This projection creates a flurry of uncomfortable emotions. And the only way the child can deal with these emotions is either by suppressing or repressing them. And we all know the horrible consequences of that.
Depression in children is not uncommon now. Studies show depression in children as small as the age of three years. But instead of addressing these issues, we are normalizing them.
Through our unconscious actions, we are creating a generation that is arrogant, narcissistic, and highly self-absorbed with the complete lack of empathy, self-esteem, and self-awareness.
These children in their teens and adulthood may grow up to be bullies or drug addicts. And it’s too late by then. It’s a world of pain for parents to see their children in that state.
If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.Mahatma Gandhi
I’m not trying to scare you. I’m only making you aware and asking you to be proactive in your approach to parenting.
It’s crucial to take action now because it’s the right time. When the brains are malleable, inquisitive, and the capacity to learn and absorb concepts is at its highest.
According to scientists, the first five years are the most critical to early childhood development. At this age, 90% of the child’s brain is developed, and it is most receptive to learning than any other point in time.
Citing my example, I have a six-year-old son and a nine-year-old daughter. They picked up mindfulness concepts that took me six years to learn in just a few months.
My daughter especially has perfected the skill to such an extent that she can sit quietly, all by herself, for 10 minutes at a stretch in meditation. And she does this on her own without anybody telling her.
My son often uses my pull-up bar to hang. As he’s short in height, he uses the trampoline to jump and catch the bar’s hold.
That’s his hack👇
There are times where he falls short and misses the bar, and that’s when he comes up to me all upset – crying and complaining.
This gives me an opportunity to make him practice mindfulness. And all I do is to remind him to take a few deep breaths in between his attempts.
Sometimes I ask him to observe his heartbeats and wait till it slows down. Taking these mindful breaks lets him observe these feelings and emotions that are creating an obstacle.
As soon as he calms down, he quickly catches the bar and keeps in a good mood for the rest of the day.
Scientific studies show that practicing mindfulness alters the brain. Through repeated action, it creates neuropathways in the areas associated with calm and relaxation.
Some of the benefits of teaching mindfulness to kids are as follows:
Self-awareness helps in building high self-esteem and confidence in children. It enables them to correctly assess their strengths and weaknesses and work on the challenges they face.
Self-aware children know what they want, and they also don’t feel shy asking things they need.
Not only are they consciously aware of their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and emotions, they are also mindful of how others perceive them. It helps them to create the correct assessment of what to expect from themselves and others.
Being aware of their inner self helps them see the world in their light rather than believing in the ideas projected on to them by others. It enhances their creative potential and creates a sense of freedom and independence.
Self-awareness is an important skill not just for children but for adults also. It enables us to see how our behavior affects others.
Practicing mindfulness offers an excellent opportunity for both the parent and the child to develop self-awareness.
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Mindfulness reduces activity in a specific area of the brain known as the default mode network, or the wandering mind.
Studies carried out at Yale University show how this wandering mind, also known as the monkey mind, is associated with being less happy.
We call it the monkey mind because it causes our awareness to jump from one thought to another, just like a monkey jumps from one branch of the tree to another. It creates a chain of thinking – a pattern that keeps repeating.
And in this process, we create a wide range of emotions that deplete our physical and mental energy, making the brain foggy and unable to focus on the task at hand.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that ADHD, behavior problems, depression, and anxiety in children have increased over time.
Mindfulness helps the children (and adults) to calm their physiology by merely being aware of the afflicting thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
It helps them create a sense of awareness where they can see how their feelings and emotions create mental blocks.
Breathing exercises, in particular, are incredibly beneficial. Our brain requires 20% of the body’s oxygen supply for normal functioning. And when it doesn’t get that – undesirable symptoms manifest.
Deep breathing exercises help lower the heart rate, bringing the heartbeat in sync with the breath. It causes the body to release endorphins, promoting a happy feeling.
Happy kids = Happy parents. 😉
This is why I place a huge emphasis on the breath-work in the super-mindful-kids guide, where I explain a wide variety of breathing activities to relieve stress and anxiety.
Builds Emotional Resilience
Mindfulness brings clarity of mind while decision-making and helps the child understand when to engage and when to pull back, and what to do while facing a challenging situation.
It is one of the essential skills that a majority of people underestimate and often dismiss it as woo-woo stuff.
The core of mindfulness practice teaches how we resolve outer world conflicts by understanding the inner self and building emotional resilience. Emotional resilience is the hallmark trait of world leaders.
Emotionally resilient people better handle challenging people and difficult circumstances. They have high adaptability to the given environment. They are always in control of their emotions.
They have the awareness to respond calmly to a problematic situation, rather than giving in to the impulse and react in a manner that creates further trouble for them.
They learn to handle contradictions and confrontations in a calm and healthy manner, rather than giving away to anger and rage.
However, this skill is not innate. It needs to be nurtured and developed by practicing mindfulness consistently.
Helps in Building Self-Control And Discipline
There was a time when my kids would not eat a meal without watching something on an iPad or a smartphone. It’s easy for parents to give in to such demands creating unhealthy habits.
Watching screens for long hours makes children’s minds foggy. It causes harmful effects like restlessness, obesity, poor sleep, impaired cognitive functions, vision problems, and other behavioral issues.
A recent research report by lancet indicates that 63% of children in the United States spend over two hours daily watching screens.
Whereas, the recommended guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics says that children aged between 2 to 5 should spend less than one hour per day on the screen.
I could see all the above happing to my children; they used to keep restless and irritated most of the time. It was difficult for them to focus on the most basic tasks.
Mindfulness helped us train our kids in a way that got rid of all these issues. It took time, and it was not easy, but the results were much more astonishing than expected.
The idea is not to deny children of gadgets and devices but to make them mindful of their usage. It’s important to make them understand the harmful implications of excessive usage of devices, explaining the science of harmful radiation.
Now I understand that with children, it’s tricky. You can’t expect a child to practice meditation and stay still for 10 minutes. Trust me when I tell you that I tried this with my children and it didn’t work.
Therefore, based upon my experience, I came up with a more practical approach to teaching mindfulness activities to kids.
What I’ve done is that I have gamified the whole process, to make it fun both for the children and the parent. It is more effective than teaching mindfulness the traditional way.
These activities, however, are not my inventions. I have compiled some of the best mindfulness activities on the Internet and added a little of my personal touch.
Kids naturally enjoy doing these activities. They help them develop emotional resilience, self-control, and a sharp mental focus, some of the traits that help them throughout their life.
Kids learn faster than adults, mainly because adults have undergone years of mind conditioning (or brainwashing) about the world, society, and life in general.
Adults have their cups full. Therefore, they must empty the cup before something new occupies it, whereas, with kids, the cup is already empty—their curiosity and eagerness to learn speed up the process.
Please bear in mind that it’s very typical for the kids to be hesitant initially. But with time, as they realize the benefits of mindfulness, the parent’s job becomes easy.
Mindful children grow up to be individuated adults who are fully capable of regulating themselves during emotional ups and downs. It saves a lot of trouble for the parents in the future.
Mindfulness gives us life-transforming skills, creating a better society and a better world. You can give your child the best by enabling them to understand the intricate mind-body connection at an early age.
Check out the Super Mindful Kids PDF guide – A collection of highly effective mindfulness activities for kids aged between 2 to 10.
It contains 34 mindfulness activities that include breathing and calm-inducing exercises and activities that help develop sensory awareness, kindness, compassion, empathy, gratitude, and much more.