8 Ways To Encourage Mindfulness In Teens
When your kids grow into their teenage years, they begin to change in different ways. They may discover new hobbies and passions that help them visualize their future. They can also become lost in their thoughts and ever-changing hormones, leaving them feeling distanced and isolated from friends and family.
The teenage years have their ups and downs, which makes it more challenging for parents to teach life lessons. One day, you’re their best friend and the next day, your teenager thinks you’re uncool. Teaching effective personal practices like mindfulness can take time, but it’s easy to do when you have the right perspective. Read on to learn about eight ways to encourage mindfulness in teens. With the right approach, you’ll find out how your teens learn best and what you can enjoy doing together. They’ll form mindfulness habits they’ll use throughout their adult lives and you can take comfort in the knowledge that you prepared them for the journey ahead.
Make it normal
If you ask a teenager what mindfulness is, they might picture crossing their legs and meditating. While that’s a mindful practice, it isn’t the only way to be more present in life. The key to getting teens interested in mindfulness is to make it normal, so they don’t feel like they’re out of their comfort zones. Talk with your teens about how you use mindfulness every day. Mention how you practice awareness while you wait at a traffic light or in an elevator. Discuss how they can reflect for five minutes each morning while they wait for the school bus. Mindfulness is a new way of thinking, but it doesn’t require any major changes in life for teens to try it.
Show how it helps
Teens don’t want to waste their time, so they’re quick to judge something new as useless. They may imagine that mindfulness doesn’t do anything, but studies have shown that it does. Give them the facts so they can judge the results for themselves. A recent study by the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that mindfulness improved cognitive function, helping students study and perform better on exams. It restructures the brain and makes it stronger, so a little daily practice can help them graduate and even go to college.
Set positive goals
Part of practicing mindfulness is maintaining positive thoughts, which is hard to do when you’re a teenager. They don’t have much control over their lives and their futures are up in the air, but mindfulness can ground them. Set positive goals with your teens as a way to be more mindful during each week. They could strive to help one person every day, become more physically active or give back to their community by volunteering every month. In doing these things, they’ll become more attentive to their needs and those around them, which is a helpful mindfulness technique.
Download an app
Your teen may jump at the chance to learn what meditation is all about, which is great. It’s important to develop control of your thoughts and mental focus. Make their experience easier by encouraging them to download a meditation app to guide their journey and time their meditations. Some apps will talk them into a peaceful state of mind or play nature sounds in the background. They can try a few different apps to see which ones are right for them before honing their new meditation habits.
Eat meals together
Mindfulness should also be present when everyone sits down to eat. Teens may devour their meals to get back to hanging out with friends or playing video games, but that does nothing for their mental health. Instead, sit down with your kids and encourage them to practice mindful thoughts. As they take each bite, what do they taste? How does food make them feel? Deep breaths and self-reflection will encourage them to enjoy each meal and use it to bond with the family members around them.
Notice your environment
You can always form mindful habits on the go if your family rarely has time together at home. While you’re driving your young teens to class or after-school activities, point out mindful notes about the environment. Notice the blooming plants, pedestrians and anything that catches your eye. Your teens will learn to do the same and increase their awareness of the world around them.
Challenge them to listen
As much as mindfulness teaches teens about themselves, it also tunes them into the people they’re next to. When you get the chance to catch up on your day, challenge your teen to listen to their sibling or yourself for two minutes straight. No interrupting. Concentrating on listening shows teens how to hear what someone’s saying or what’s left unsaid. They’ll form more empathy for their friends and family members, all because they were mindful while in conversations.
Teach about self-care
Mindfulness also instructs people to have more bodily awareness and form self-compassion. It’s easy for teens to worry about how their bodies are changing and compare themselves to others in a negative light. Mindfully reflecting on their well being will introduce them to self-care routines they’ll use for the rest of their lives. Valuing alone time when they’re oversocialized, taking breaks when they push themselves too hard and monitoring what food makes them feel bad and why are just the start of how they’ll learn about themselves by practicing mindful self-care.
Encourage them daily
Practice mindfulness alongside your teens to encourage them to pursue new habits. They’ll grow into themselves with time if they keep up effective practices like exercising, listening and meditating.
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