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Dads2dads: Mindfulness makes us aware

Tom Tozer and Bill Black • Updated Aug 20, 2017 at 4:00 PM

Mindfulness is a key to gaining control over our distracted world. It helps us be aware of our situation, develop empathy for others, and strengthen our ability to listen. Teachers know the challenges of educating a roomful of children, each of whom operates at a different level of readiness with varying states of attentiveness. We adults are no less guilty of distraction. With multiple responsibilities, technological frustrations and frequent interruptions, we are often not as attentive as we should be. 

How often do we misunderstand or not hear what someone says to us? How often do we react without thinking? Mindfulness can help us, both adults and children, operate with more purpose and greater control. 

John Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” He says, “It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”

Gaining focus

Have you ever struggled to cope with a challenging situation or how to help your children master the skills to do so? In her book, “10 Mindful Minutes,” Goldie Hawn describes her program of mindfulness that helps children and adults create awareness and gain control. She speaks of mindful sensing – taking the time to pay attention to being alive. Mindful sensing can simplify our lives, takes us from a hectic condition to a calmer, more focused state of mind and give us the chance to pause, reflect, and redirect.

Goldie Hawn’s educational MindUp program has been able to make a significant difference in the social, mental, and physical wellbeing of children. This school-based program provides students with the tools to reduce stress, sharpen concentration and increase empathy Learn more at mindup.org.

MindUp teaches children how their brain works and to understand the relationship between what they are thinking, how they are feeling, and how they are acting. They learn to be focused, have empathy and stop and pause before they react. 

Exercises

You can help develop mindful skills by playing games with your child to strengthen awareness, attention, empathy and self-control. Ask your daughter to close her eyes, and describe the sounds she hears. Have your son discuss in detail the scents he smells. 

Try having your child close her eyes and describe every aspect of something you give her. Ask your child to describe everything about the nearby environment, being aware of movement, color, and texture. 

Ask your son to get comfortable and describe each sensation for different parts of his body or what he hears in the environment around him. 

These purposeful experiments can help your child pause, focus and be in the present moment. In each case, avoid judgment. Learning these skills is important for gaining focus, becoming nonjudgmental, being attentive and succeeding in school and in social situations. Being mindful helps kids deal with challenging circumstances like a difficult encounter, a bullying situation, or a disagreement by reflecting before reacting and developing some understanding for others. It’s good for us adults, too.

Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of “Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers.” Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @dads2dadsllc. Contact them at tomandbill@dads2dadsllc.com.

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