Skip main navigation

Mindfulness for parents and teachers

Watch Craig provide an overview of how parents and teachers can apply mindfulness in their lives to better connect with children.
CRAIG HASSED: Hi, it’s Craig here with you. And we’re going to be exploring a little bit about mindfulness and its importance for parents and teachers. Because bringing up children, educating children, is one of the most important but toughest things we ever do, especially in this fast-paced, distracted kind of world. Now, the first thing in teaching mindfulness to a child is to be mindful with the child by modelling it. If we’re not modelling mindfulness, we’re modelling unmindfulness. We’re modelling distraction, inattention, disengagement, and a child will learn that lesson very quickly. So the first thing is to model it, to be mindful with the child. Now, it helps a lot if we’re practising mindfulness personally.
And that will make it a lot easier. So for example, be mindful when the child speaks. Actually turn the attention to the child. Now mind you, if you’re doing something so important that you really can’t distract yourself from it, then you might need decide to the child, well, excuse me. Just wait a moment. I’ll be with you in a second. But if you are actually speaking, then to speak properly turned towards the child. And when speaking to them, to pay attention to what we’re saying, to actually say with awareness, not just on automatic pilot, and not paying attention. That means, for example, lifting attention away from the screen.
Because if we are modelling multitasking to the child, the child will pick up that particular message very quickly as well. Another important thing is to avoid multitasking. And of course, for kids, they’re taking it up more and more these days. And Clifford Nass, from Stanford University, is one of the world’s leaders in this. And from him, these are kids who are doing five, six, or more things at once all the time. It turns out, multitaskers are terrible at every aspect of multitasking. They get distracted constantly. Their memory is very disorganised. Recent work we’ve done suggests that they’re worse at analytical reasoning. We worry that it may be we’re creating people who might not be able to think well, and clearly.
So that’s the impact, despite the fact that kids think that they can and they should multitask, either to have a fuller life, or because they want to get more done in less time. Some things that a family can do together is, of course, to play sport, to just literally play and be really immersed in the play, music, art, social activity, so things that really engage children’s attention much more than screen time tends to do. And then thinking about creating a mindful environment, so for example, connecting at meal time is a very important time. And put the screens away, limiting screen time, social media, and gaming.
And also when kids are online a lot, and on social media a lot, it often subverts other activities, like doing physical exercise, sleeping, or having face-to-face interactions with people. Maybe teach the child some simple mindfulness practises and to practise it with them and encourage the children to practise it as well. Make it a normal part of family life, as it were, and not to interfere with a child’s natural curiosity. So when children are looking at nature, to help them to actually really engage with it, rather than always being in such a rush that we’re dragging young children away from things they’re actually fascinated with. So there are a few tips on bringing mindfulness into the home or into the school.
There are many ways of doing that, modelling it, living it, practising it, and teaching it. So the important thing is to stay with it over time, and then to help children to grow up in a more mindful way, to deal with this challenging world, hopefully for the good of themselves, but also so that they can be mindful with the people that they are one day living and working with as well.

Watch Craig provide an overview of how parents and teachers can apply mindfulness in their lives to better connect with children.

Find out more

To learn more about Clifford Nass and his research, consider reading an interview about multitasking or an overview of his contributions to the study of human/computer interactions, or even watching a video that explores the potential impact that the proliferation of media may have on our lives.

Research into mindfulness-based interventions in schools and its impact on students disruptive behaviour and their performance during lectures and in the classroom environment is also being carried out.

In the See also section of this step, you can also find links to articles and papers related to research associated with this topic. Accessing these is optional.

These papers and articles are included to help demonstrate some of the research in this area, but we do not expect you to purchase a subscription to read the full paper.

Hopefully, just reading the summary provided in the free abstract will be sufficient for those that are wanting to know more about these studies.

This article is from the free online

Maintaining a Mindful Life

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now