blog post, we noted research that found that using mindfulness techniques has proven effective to reduce stress and depression and to improve parenting skills in parents of children with developmental disabilities.
For parents who think their children could benefit from mindfulness, Sitting Still Like a Frog by Eline Snel is an excellent resource. Snel, founder of the Academy for Mindful Teaching in the Netherlands, has worked to develop meditation and mindfulness training programs for more than twenty-five years. Her book is a user-friendly and effective tool that helps families use mindfulness and reap its benefits. The exercises in it are basic enough for children as young as five but nuanced enough to use with kids into their middle school years.
The book contains exercises for families to try together and explanatory passages aimed at adults that parents will find insightful and intriguing. In addition to the text, the book comes with an audio CD that leads listeners through more activities that promote calm and focus. Those suspicious that the book will smack of strange, new-age ideas will be pleasantly surprised by its down-to-earth tone and common-sense advice. To give you a sense of the program, here’s a short excerpt from the first track on the audio CD:
“A frog sits very still but is always aware of what is going on around it. It jumps, stops, and sits really still, being aware of everything around it. It only moves when it really has to, like when it’s hungry. It doesn’t waste energy doing things it doesn’t have to do. It’s aware of all the commotion going on around it, but it doesn’t react.”
Cultivating this awareness is a big part of Snel’s mindfulness training. In addition to learning to be attentive to their surroundings, kids are encouraged to turn the lens inward to find out what they’re thinking, feeling, and doing with their minds and bodies. Many children have difficulty understanding the escalation of their own impulses or feelings and aren’t sure how to control them, so providing kids with tools for this purpose can be enormously comforting. Parents can give staying power to the book’s worthy lessons by helping kids remember to use what they’ve learned when they’re presented with challenging situations.
Mindfulness can be very beneficial to children with attention difficulties and anxiety. But it can also help frazzled adults manage stress and feel more balanced. So, by sharing the lessons from Sitting Still Like a Frog with your kids, you may be doing yourself a favor, too.