Strengthening Our Kids Through Awareness and Attention
By Jenny Webb
Recently, my five-year-old son told me that he loves his nana because “She always listens to me.” I was touched that even at his young age, he was able to recognize the power and connection that comes through the simple act of listening and paying attention to another person. Even though his nana lives on the other side of the country, he feels connected to her because she has spent time listening to him (and it’s not always easy to understand five-year-olds on the phone!).
It is so easy to be distracted today—how can we help our children strengthen their ability to pay attention and listen to those around them so they can develop strong relationships? We can help them practice slowing down and focusing on the people and world around us, and in doing so, we can cultivate a sense of spiritual well-being and peace.
Try out the following mindfulness activity with your child in order to strengthen your awareness and concentration.
Step 1. Find a place where you can both sit down, such as on kitchen table chairs. Sit forward and straight on the chair so that your back isn’t touching the back of the chair. Put your feet flat on the floor and rest your hands on your leg or loosely clasp them in front of you.
Step 2. Practice breathing in and out, paying attention to the breath as it goes in and out. How does it feel in your nose? In your lungs?
Step 3. Your mind will wander and chatter; you will quickly find that you are no longer thinking about your breath. This is normal. When this happens, practice returning your attention to your breathing. See if you can sit still, focused on your breathing for five minutes, ten minutes, or even fifteen minutes.
Note: It can sometimes help to count your breaths in and out up to ten (so that every odd number is a breath in and every even number is a breath out).
As with any skill, learning to concentrate through attentiveness takes practice. Attention is like a muscle—the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Challenge yourselves to practice the mindfulness meditation activity outlined above with your child every day for one week, then check in with each other: is it easier or harder? How do you feel physically after those five minutes? Do you feel sleepy or happy? Do you feel calm or grumpy?
Children (and adults!) who take the time to strengthen their ability to pay attention develop a life-long tool that gives them the ability to focus, calm themselves, and connect with those around them.
This post was developed with content from the Spirituality chapter in 30 Days to a Stronger Child. Other topics covered in this chapter include Belief, Attention, Change, Community, Gratitude, and Love. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to look for more activities and ideas to help parent a strong child Emotionally, Intellectually, Physically, Socially, and Spiritually in 30 Days to a Stronger Child.
See our new book 30 Days to a Stronger Child to find ideas for teaching this concept and learn ways and activities to help your child be stronger!
Other articles related to the new book:
Jenny Webb is an editor and publications production specialist who has worked in the industry since 2002. She graduated from Brigham Young University with an MA in comparative literature and has worked with a variety of clients ranging from international academic journals to indie science fiction authors. Born and raised in Bellevue, Washington, she currently lives in Huntsville, Alabama with her husband, Nick, and their two children.