Mindfulness has been a hot topic in the social emotional circle for a while. It is no wonder. Mindfulness can help teach people young to oldish how to better handle all parts of daily life. Got slammed at work with a report due tomorrow? Take a mindful minute to center and breathe through it. Had all 3 kids decide they are not eating the meal that took 2 hours to prepare? Turn on your calming music as you whip up an alternative meal in a few minutes. Mindfulness has helped me through many difficult moments. This past year has taught me that life happens. Being able to find positive coping skills through them can be a huge life changer. This also includes the students and children in our life. We can teach them how to have more mindful practices so that when life gets overwhelming we can handle it. Read 5 mindful tips to help your students learn more about mindfulness.
5 Mindful Practices:
- Feeling Awareness. One mindful practice I incorporate is teaching a large range of feeling words. Students who struggle with emotional regulation often have a hard time putting words to how they are feeling. When you are able to help them name their feeling, this can start them on a more productive path to handling it. Mindfulness is about accepting the feeling and working through it without judgement. It is okay to feel angry, sad, disappointed, or excited.
- Body Awareness. This practice is similar to centering and brings awareness inward. You can teach your student how to identify how they body responds in different situations or feelings. This helps your student to identify and name the sensations rather than just reacting to them. Have them start with the most common emotion they feel when upset. Very often this is anger or frustration. Have them identify how they body feels when angry. Does their face get hot? Does their mind race? This awareness also lets them know that even though their body can do this automatically, there are things they can do to regain control.
- Breathing. Having a mindful strategy that students can use at any time, without any materials is essential for them to do it consistently. That is why one of the first strategies I teach is breathing. It is always there and can be done anywhere. I also love that you can practice mindful breathing in many ways. Bear Breathing. Bunny Breathing. Spider Man Breathing. The options are endless. Get creative and have your students practice many kinds of breathing.
- Unconditional Acceptance. This means accepting things that we cannot change. This practice is sometimes harder for the adults than children. Most children accept things for what they are without questioning. However, when students go through traumatic or life changing events, it can be very difficult for them to process it, let alone accept it. Helping your student to love themselves through things they cannot change can really make a difference. Helping them to know that things can be frustrating but it really has nothing to do with them. Dad could be sick or the family has to move yet again. That is hard. Letting them know that disappointment and frustration is okay. That sometimes we go through things that are hard. Have them identify what is in their control and what is not. Then have them try to let go of the things they cannot control. It can be a great exercise that can really teach skills that can last a lifetime.
- Being Present. This might be the hardest thing for some students. This practice brings awareness to the present. This includes all thoughts, beliefs, feelings, sensations, etc. For some students, this can be chaotic and hard to focus. I tend to incorporate this in small segments. One of my favorite exercises is progressive muscle relaxation. It can help students to focus on the sounds, smells, and sensation while relaxing the body.
I hope you enjoyed these tips on how to integrate mindfulness into your classroom. For ready to use materials, see the links below.