Friday, March 4, 2016

Teaching Children Mindfulness

At The Yellin Center we often work with students who struggle with attention and self-regulation. There is a large body of research to underpin the value of systematically teaching mindfulness to children. Not only can mindfulness training help children learn to self-soothe and monitor their behavior, but it also can develop intrinsic qualities like compassion, kindness, thoughtfulness, and caring.

There are several thoughtful, structured approaches to help develop a child’s awareness of the world around them and grow their emotional intelligence. Taking part in activities that promote mind-body awareness, such as martial arts, yoga, or dance, can be valuable for students who struggle to regulate their impulses. Mindfulness exercises are another great way for children to improve their ability to sustain focus, regulate their emotional responses, and make better decisions.

Some of our favorite resources are:

I am Yoga  by  Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds

We have written in previous blogs about children’s author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds. This time he has teamed up with certified yoga instructor Susan Verde to create a book that encourages children to explore the relaxing world of yoga. The intention of the book is to foster creativity and self-expression in young people in a playful, engaging manner. The narration of the book encourages students to get moving as they are read to, and the back of the book houses a detailed explanation of all 16 poses they will be guided through.

A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles by Thich Nhat Hanh and Wietske Vriezen

A Handful of Quiet
describes Pebble Meditation as a “unique technique to introduce children to the calming practice of meditation.” Pebble Meditation was developed by author Thich Nhat Hanh, who is a Buddhist monk and poet. He was nominated  for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967 by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his work in mindful living. The book guides students through a hands-on mindfulness practice that helps relieve stress, increase concentration, and develop gratitude.

Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children  by Thich Nhat Hanh, Chan Chau Nghiem and Wietske Vriezen

Mr. Thich Nhat Hanh and Ms. Wietske Vriezen bring forth another exceptional resource for developing mindfulness in children. Planting Seeds offers concrete activities and a detailed curriculum for parents and teachers to help children improve communication, grow confidence, and deal with difficult emotions. Techniques in the book and the accompanying CD include deep relaxation, conflict resolution, ethical guidelines for children, and mindful breathing.

I wonder…  by Annaka Harris and John Rowe

I Wonder... 
is a beautifully illustrated picture book written for children age one and above. The story follows a little girl as she confronts several questions about the world around her. Through the process she learns that it is okay to not know all the answers but rather that curiosity and awareness of the world is what matters. The story offers lessons in emotional intelligence and aims to build children’s confidence in themselves.

What Does It Mean to be Present? By Rana DiOrio and Eliza Wheeler

The award winning children’s book What Does it Mean to be Present? encourages students to be mindful by equipping them with practical ways to be present. It teaches students how to listen to themselves and others, as well has how to slow down and focus on what is going on in the world around them. This book is one of several in the What Does It Mean To Be …? series. So if you like this story, you may also enjoy author Rana DiOrio's books on developing kindness or a global mindset.

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