Have kids, they said. It'll be fun, they said. When these little blessings hit the terrible two's, things get real!
We've held them and nurtured them from their first breath and it seems when they hit a certain age, toddlerhood, they turn into little imps running around controlling the universe. Oh the tantrums!
And we as parents are trying every which way we can to create some peace in our own minds so we don't eventually snap under the pressure. In addition to salvaging what's left of our own sanity, the addition of mindfulness for toddlers might just be the trick!
By now most of the planet has heard of the benefits of mindfulness. With Buddhist roots, approach to life is reaching every aspect of life by storm, calming storm that is, but who would have thought it appropriate for the little tots? Let's face it, our tiny little creations, the people we hope will be the better versions of ourselves, can bring terror to our eyes in a fraction of a second. And for the life of us, we can't figure out why.
We spend our days on pins and needles wondering what's going to cause the next floor-flopping, food tossing, screaming fit. Did you give the little youngster the green bowl instead of the red one? Because last night it was clear the red one was the absolute favorite.
You probably wouldn't let the wee one poke her grubby little fingers in every plate at the dinner table, right? Or maybe you wouldn't let her lick all of the cheese puffs and put them back in the bag, one by one, with all the cheese sucked off. Oh cruel you. For shame!
Our precious little ones are learning, whether we are always aware of it or not. Every single day they learn something else, and sometimes it's over-stimulating. They are learning how to be people and make decisions and, as luck would have it, they are discovering they have their own opinions. Opinions about well, about EVERYTHING. And their little attitudes change on a dime.
Mindfulness for toddlers can help tame these little terrorizing tantrums. Teaching your young child to employ mindfulness techniques (although they won't recognize them as such) will make their lives easier and more productive and joyful. Mindfulness makes a habit of living in the now, experiencing life as it happens, rather than getting by on autopilot and being less aware of cause and effect. In the appreciable short-term, it helps a child learn appropriate responses to differing stimuli.
While all of these mindfulness techniques for toddler may not be effective in the middle of a full-blown tantrum, you'll be able to mix and match which ones are most helpful in time. It's important to incorporate mindfulness for toddlers exercises during every mood, not just as a "fix all" for the times of distress.
The key here is to remember these tiny people are feeding off your energy a lot of the time, so make sure you participate in the same way, with calming efforts and released anxiety. Toddlers are very receptive to your tone of voice as well as non-verbal cues.
Routine, Routine, Routine
Chaos begets chaos. Try your best to have scheduled activities, meals and sleep times. Life happens and schedules change, but keeping continuity creates a safe and comfortable environment, that encourages steady focus.
Classical (especially Baroque) music works wonders, and different styles of orchestra aid in appropriate levels of excitement or calm during the day. A rowdy playlist during the morning helps wake up in a good mood while a slower playlist offering sonatas assist in a calming effect for the bedtime routine. Before you know it your little one will be able to predict and participate in what part of their schedule comes next at the beginning of any given piece of music.
Nature is beautiful. Explore it! Green is a soothing color and when you bring the littlies outside, breathe in the fresh air, and teach them all about the great outdoors, they love it! Soft touches on leaves, exploring tiny creatures like ants and caterpillars, observing their slow and steady movements, it all creates order and peace. Not to mention, it wears them out a little making nap times and bedtime more tolerable. It's ever important for them to have an outlet for their incredible amounts of boundless energy.
Again, mindfulness is about focus, so make an effort to actively engage with them, rather than propping them in front of a screen while you check your Facebook. In mindfulness training, as in all child learning, example is the best teacher.
Toddler massages and soothing strokes on their limbs are awesome. Add in a lower tone than normal or humming a soft tune, and trace their eyebrows with your fingertips (which makes their tiny eyelids flutter and even close) creates the perfect environment for quiet time. These often help during a meltdown as well.
Maybe your child isn't a baby anymore, but they still respond to rhythmic movement. Gentle rocking in your arms or in a rocking chair is ultra-soothing. Remember how you used to sooth your baby with just your heartbeat? That rhythm is what you're going for here.
When all else fails, divert attention to another object. Little tikes are focused on whatever is at hand, be it a good or bad mood, their attention is in the here and now. Especially in the middle of a tirade, you can move their attention to something more pleasant or even funny.
The first attempt may not work, but after a few tries your child may just let the new emotion stick.
These are just a few, but you can incorporate so many others, like tasting and breathing exercises. Emojis are super popular and help the child see the difference in emotions, and you can discuss how to react to these emotions.
Mindfulness for toddlers is important for both parent and child. You may not be able to totally avoid all the hysterics of toddlerdom, but you can certainly divert a great deal of them.