Anyone who has kids will be able to relate when I say that, more than anything in life, they inspire us to be better individuals and motivate us to keep on living in a more mindful manner. With our kids’ futures on the line, we can’t help but to look beyond ourselves and act in ways that will hopefully give them a chance at a better life, and one way we can ensure that is by raising them to be more mindful as well.
Photo Credit: Gizaa
If you think of raising kids in a more mindful manner as one of the tasks you need to fulfil as a parent, then you will find that is definitely not the easiest item on your endless TO DO list. After all, chasing around a curious 2-year old all day or waiting for a teenager to come home all night can sap anyone’s energy and patience, leaving you feeling like you don’t have what it takes to teach your kids anything about mindfulness. However, if you approach raising your kids in a more mindful manner as something that you impart naturally to them as you live it yourself on a day to day basis, then it becomes more doable. You don’t have to feel pressured when your little one “fails to share” his toys or your teenager commits some “dreadful mistake” in life when you’d hoped that they would have learned to make better choices by now because you know that the seeds you plant as a parent will eventually come into fruition and that, as long as you continue to live by example, your kids will have a compass to guide them even when they seem to lose their way.
Still, to help you feel a bit more empowered as you strive to raise your kids to be better persons, here are a few tips on raising your kids to be more mindful individuals:
1. Live by example – Already discussed above, there’s no substitute to living by example. Even if you do nothing else, this is the one thing that will surely teach your kids the most about mindfulness. On the other hand, if you don’t make more mindful choices in life, you cannot and should never expect your child to do differently. Of course your child may make better choices than you in the future, but that won’t be something you can attribute to your example, unless your child grows up determined to NOT be like you, which is something no parent would want their child to feel about them.
2. Teach the principle of cause and effect – It’s never too early to start teaching them that there’s a consequence for every action they take. While some say that positive reinforcement works best, I believe in using both negative and positive reinforcement. For little kids this means giving lots of praise when they obey you or act in a considerate manner towards their siblings and giving them timeout when they hit each other. For older kids it can be an extended curfew the next time they go out with friends if they come home on time tonight, while getting grounded for a week if they don’t. This way they will be more likely to think before they act, weighing the pros and cons, since each action can result in either positive or negative rewards depending on what they opt to do.
Photo Credit: Michele Hofstrand
The ripple effect. Our actions causes a ripple effect in our lives and that of others.
3. Engage in fun mindful activities together – Bring your kids to yoga class or take them on your nature walks with you. You can also impart a love for the earth by engaging in arts and crafts activities that make use of found items or by shopping with your teenage daughter in vintage shops (Who said that reusing can’t be fashionable?). There are so many different activities that you can both enjoy and at the same time impart invaluable life lessons to your kids.
4. Let them enjoy the present – Mindfulness is all about being aware of the now. Teach your kids to enjoy being in the present by letting them enjoy their moments. Teaching mindfulness does not entail shoving life lessons down their throat, but realizing how good life is and how much better it is when we make the right choices. So let them be when they’re enjoying their time. Don’t rain on their parade. Praise their accomplishments. And most of all, enjoy them for what they are right now.
Photo Credit: CheriePhotography
There’s nothing as precious as being able to fully enjoy the moment.