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Mindful environments for children

Watch Craig talk about the role that mindfulness can play in parenting.
CRAIG HASSED: One of the really key relationships in the family life is, of course, between the parents and the children. And this is one of the ways in which we either teach being unmindful to children, or we teach them to be mindful by modelling the sorts of behaviours that might actually be conducive. So when a child’s speaking, to actually listen, to really engage, being actually very present in the play, that the quality time is more a matter of not just being physically present with somebody, but it’s actually the state of mind that we’re in to be fully connected in that moment.
That’s what quality time is really about: is where is the mind? But also, being mindful is more and more difficult for children these days. The amount of screen time, the technology, the addiction to technology as well, all of these things can impact on children’s ability to pay attention. Indeed, there’s good research now showing that the more screen time and excess of social media and gaming, all of these things can have effects on attention, behaviour, and also negative effects on mental health as well. So it’s really not that these things are good or bad in themselves, but how they’re used and the extent to which they’re used.
So creating a mindful environment for a child really means that the parents give the lead and model the sorts of behaviours that the children need to take up for their future lives. And a couple of the other really important essential building blocks of mindfulness are about being in the present moment, not living in the past, perhaps, of former hurts and so on, but also not necessarily being anxious about the future and, of course, letting go or non attachment. And especially as children grow up, they’re going to be their own person as they move into adolescence.
And we really need to know how to let go and to allow that person, as they are growing up, to live their own life in their own way. And the last thing that’s really, if you like, the glue of family and relationships is love. And if indeed we’re mindful, then it’s a far more patient and a far more enduring kind of love, not a love that’s necessarily very conditional on people always being the way they would like to be.
So even to be loving even when we’re disappointed by somebody else, to be able to be forgiving, to be able to be compassionate, even at times, for example, when children are playing up, and creating the most angst is to be able to be compassionate and forgiving then. And, of course, that doesn’t mean neglecting values. But it just means that there’s a kind of more enduring form of love which can ride the ups and downs of day-to-day and family life. Perhaps one of the last ways to be mindful in the home is to get a pet. So that can very much help to bring people into the present moment too.
So there are a lot of ways that we can bring mindfulness into the home and into relationships. And that can really form a firm foundation to be mindful as we move back out into day-to-day life.

Watch Craig talk about the role that mindfulness can play in parenting.

Improving the quality of our interactions with people of all ages

Although this step is specifically intended for parents of children, elements of this video might be helpful for grandparents and others who regularly interact with people from a younger generation – whether they be young children, adolescents or adults.

In fact, Craig’s comments about improving the quality of our interactions is probably applicable to all relationships and can serve as a helpful reminder of the value of really engaging fully with others.

Mindfulness programs and research

The links in the See Also section of this step focus on mindfulness programs and research about mindfulness interventions for children, which might be of particular interest to parents, grandparents, teachers and others who regularly care for or work with young people.

It’s worth noting, especially for very young children, role modelling mindful behaviour in the home is perhaps more important than formal instruction in how to practise mindfulness.

For children learn so much from how adults interact with them, hence can easily learn and repeat both mindful and unmindful behaviours that they regularly experience.

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Maintaining a Mindful Life

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