Children are generally mindful, they live moment to moment quite easily, the key is to encourage them to maintain this skill. We are reading lots about supporting children in schools to be mindful, what about Toddlers?
Firstly and most importantly we can only offer others what we have developed for ourselves. So, developing a regular practice of mindfulness for yourself is the best place to kick off.
Start with 10 minutes a day, just sitting and noticing everything around you moment to moment is great. Bring in meditation when you are ready and then just keep going.
A bit of downward dog
My toddler loves his yoga session at nursery, I am absolutely thrilled that they are running yoga sessions for toddlers. He will regularly just start a bit of yoga in the lounge when the moment takes him.
This is great, we often lose touch with our bodies due to spending so much time lost in thought. Encourage your little one to stretch and bend, this releases tension and allows the mind to rest and focus on movement.
We want to encourage skills for life.
We are quick to distract our toddlers from emotions, as we don't like to see them suffer. However, now and then it's important to acknowledge their feelings. Just asking 'do you feel sad', 'are you angry now' allows your toddler to feel accepted for experiencing emotion.
Trapping emotions in the body and not fully feeling emotions leaves us tense and agitated, there is a time and a place, but do allow emotions to be felt and acknowledged. This allows them to shift and be understood.
Listening to music and dancing is a wonderful way to follow a toddlers lead in mindful movement.
I pop a song on and copy my toddlers dance moves, he finds this hilarious and again it's a great way for them to express themselves and engage with mindful movement.
Another easy task is to ring a bell and ask your toddler to sit still and listen to the bell until it ends.
I have read about this and recently tested it out. Let your toddler lead the way during a walk in a park. Notice how they engage with everything around them and let yourself be guided by their interest in the environment.
We can end up rushing from one activity to another without pauses, this leads to feeling stressed and tired. Pausing and being free and not constrained to time is a great feeling. Encourage free time to wander and notice all that is around.
Ask your toddler to lie down and pop a teddy on their tummy. Encourage them to watch the teddy move up and down as they breath. This may only last seconds to begin with but after a few goes they might start to really enjoy it.
Gratitude and love
In all of our rushing around we can forget all that we are grateful for. Meal times are a great time to talk about what you are thankful for. This helps our children to develop a natural state of being grateful for the little things in life.
There are also some brilliant books about mindfulness and meditation for toddlers to look at with you. Lets not rush, enjoy the special moments.