Having a mindfulness routine paired with self care is one of the best ways to take care of your mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
It goes beyond treating yourself to a new outfit, having ice cream, or taking a bubble bath. It’s understanding how your brain and body work, so you can bring awareness to how you show up in the world (I call this doing the “inner work”).
For many of my clients inside our mindfulness community, Grow You, they want to take their work to everyone they know—friends, family, and their kids. That’s what this post is all about—how you can bring mindfulness and self care to your family, in an age appropriate way for your kids to benefit, too.
Here’s a list of five ways to teach kids self care and mindfulness so they can experience more calm and peace regardless of what’s happening around them.
1. Explain the difference between feelings and actions.
Letting kids know that all feelings are okay but that all actions aren’t is a great place to start with mindfulness.
It’s helping them see that they can feel any emotion—anger, frustration, sadness, irritation, etc. while also knowing that they don’t have to react to that feeling negatively. They can simply practice being with the feeling.
This means, of course, that you as the parent can model it. It means showing them that you can be really mad and not yell at all.
Similarly, for a child, it’s showing them that they can feel upset and process that feeling but that hitting their sister is an unacceptable action for your home.
Building the skill of differentiating between feelings and actions is something that will serve your kids forever. There’s no point in time where they graduate from feeling negative emotions, so this will be really helpful as they navigate adulthood.
2. Read mindfulness books together.
There are kids mindfulness books that you can read with your kids.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Breathe Like A Bear by Kira Willey (RJ has this one, and I’ve gotten it as a gift for many of my mom-friends).
- Peaceful Like Panda by Kira Willey
- Listen Like An Elephant by Kira Willey
- My Body Sends A Signal by Natalia Maguire (RJ also has this one)
- Breathing Is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego
If your kids are older, do a search online for the best mindfulness books for your child’s age. This is a great way to bring mindfulness and self care into the home.
3. Talk about the six different types of self care.
The way I teach self care is that there are six types:
Thinking about self care this way not only helps you understand what it is we’re talking about, but more importantly, it helps you more specifically identify what self care you’re in need of.
When you talk with your kids about self care, explain it in terms of taking care of themselves within each category. This way they can feel empowered to look inward and identify what type of self care they’re in need of, too.
4. Take a course on how to teach your kids about thoughts and feelings.
One of the courses inside Grow You is called: How To Teach Kids About Thoughts And Feelings.
Here’s a look at the lessons in the course:
- Lesson 1: Why Teach Kids About This Work
- Lesson 2: Teaching Kids About Their Brain
- Lesson 3: Teaching Kids About Thoughts
- Lesson 4: Teaching Kids About Feelings
- Lesson 5: Teaching Kids About Failure And Mistakes
- Lesson 6: Teaching Kids About Self Love
- Lesson 7: Helping An Upset Child
- Lesson 8: Being An Example
This is one of our most popular courses since most of our members are so eager to share what they’ve learned in Grow You with their kids.
5. Direct your child’s attention inward.
So much of a child’s experience is learning new things from others, where their attention is outward on what other people are doing. Kids are constantly watching their parents and friends to know what to do.
What you can do to help them know what’s right for them is to direct their attention inward.
For example, if your child says “what color do you think I should paint this flower?” instead of answering the child and telling her the color you’d pick, direct them inward so they can look within for the answer themselves. Say something like, “I’m not sure. I’d love to know what color you think you should use.”
This may take a bit of back and forth because they may really be used to you always answering for them, but the more you practice this the more you’re teaching your child that they have all the answers within them (this is at the core of mindfulness).
- Podcast Directory (free download)
- 75 Journal Prompts For Moms (free download)
- Mindfulness Email (weekly email)
A Final Note
Whether or not your child is receptive to practicing self care and mindfulness with you is up to them. All you can do is offer it. And of course, you setting the example in your household will show them the value of both self care and mindfulness, so keep up the great work. They’re watching you, mama.