Every family has their meltdown moments. And it’s not always just the kids, either – if your family’s like mine, every member is guilty of a meltdown every once in a while. 

Although the tantrums we throw as parents usually look a little different than the tan-trums thrown by our kids, the source of our fits tend to be the same: a sign that our basic needs aren’t being met.

Those needs could either be physical — like being hungry, sleepy, or sick — or emotional, like feel rejected, under-appreciated or overwhelmed.

Whether we’re just tiny humans or the heads of the household, studies show time and time again that best way to find our center when things feel out of control is to practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the ability to be present and clear-headed in any stressful situation that life might throw our way. Practicing mindfulness can mean the difference between shouting at our kids about the mess in the living room, and calmly addressing the situation without adding more stress.

Practicing mindfulness is not only great for us as parents, but teaching it to our children can pave the way for them to find helpful ways to cope with their emotions. And good coping abilities can mean better problem solving, stronger attention span and even increased self-awareness and coping mechanisms in our little ones.

But how do we bring mindfulness into our households? Turns out it’s as simple as taking time everyday to sit, close your eyes, and just breathe.

A meditation practice is one of the most powerful ways to find focus when you need it most. Researchers discovered that young children who meditated every day in class showed improvements in behavioral challenges and social skills.

I know what you may be thinking…the idea of your child calming themselves down during a temper tantrum may seem like a fairy tale. But with a little practice, you could find yourself and your children solving problems instead of screaming.

Below are just a few ways that mindfulness practices can help you and your children stay calm, focused, and improve empathy throughout life’s challenges.

Cultivate Confidence

I often have to remind myself that it takes a village to raise a child. For better or for worse, me and my husband aren’t going to be the only influence in our children’s life.

The guidance my children receive from teachers, friends and family members is essential to their nurturing. But I know that between peers, teammates and television, my kids are bombarded with conflicting messages and peer-pressure every day.

Teaching our kids to take a few undisturbed moments out of every day to simply sit and breathe can help them stay connected to their inner voice. That way, when they’re presented with moments of uncertainty at school or around friends, this mindful connection can give them the confidence they need to let their inner voice shine.

Knowing my kids have the security to make their own judgements gives me confidence in their decisions when they’re out in the big wide world by themselves.

Find Focus

I remember the first time I tried to meditate…it wasn’t like in the movies.

I didn’t close my eyes and enter a spiritual realm. My mind was racing despite the rare silence that surrounded me. It was uncomfortable and at times, just plain boring.

For most kids, boredom can be dangerous. The world is new and exciting to them, so having to sit in silence rather than jump, run, dance and sing can lead to some serious acting out.

According to a study on mindfulness in schools, third graders who received 8 weeks of meditation and breathing exercises showed less signs of attention deficit disorder, better classroom attendance, and improved classroom behavior. All just because they took time to be still and breathe!

Mindfulness is a powerful exercise in facing those moments that can be uncomfortable or under-stimulating, and turning them into moments of reflection and healing. It teaches our kids to remain present even when there isn’t anything keeping their attention.

This means the next time your kids are in class, church, or at home and they need to focus on a less-than-exciting task, mediation can give them the tools to stay present and focused.

Explore Empathy

There are 3 big challenges to empathy: awareness, acceptance, and stress. Mindfulness practice can help your kids overcome both.

Self-awareness often leads to self-acceptance. Once children learn to accept themselves and all the unique pieces that make them who they are, they’re more likely to accept those around them.

Stress is another barrier to empathy. It’s hard for your kids to notice or care about other’s feelings if they’re weighed down by their own stress.

Mindful meditation can help your children to sit and breath through budding tantrums. Rather than react right away, your child can learn to cope with tough emotions and shift to a solution-based mindset.

This is the important part where we as parents should check in and help our children talk through their feelings, and find solutions together as a family.

When your kids learn how to work their stress, they can better tune into the feelings of their peers and offer comfort or assistance.

With improved confidence, focus and empathy comes closer relationships and a happier life. What more could you ask for the one’s you love most?

Pro-tip: If meditation methods don’t stick right off the bat, don’t get discouraged! There are plenty of other activities that help your children learn the art of mindfulness that involve physical activity.

At Mountain Kids, we have multiple programs that let kids find inner peace in their own unique way. Find out how even the wildest and wiggliest little can find some Zen with our ninjazone program>