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  • Your Child 'Misbehaves' Because He Doesn't Know What to Do With His Feelings

    You can practice mindfulness techniques right in your home!
    by Kate Borbon .
Your Child 'Misbehaves' Because He Doesn't Know What to Do With His Feelings
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Little children cannot control their emotions as well as adults. As a result, they can get overwhelmed by their feelings, such as sadness, frustration, and anger. If he is not shown how to deal with those emotions, he may end up developing coping mechanisms that involve tantrums or even violence.

    In their bestselling book No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Daniel Siegel, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Tina Payne Bryson, a pediatric and adolescent psychotherapist, say the practice of mindfulness is an effective way to teach children how to handle their emotions.

    “Brain studies reveal that we actually have two different circuits — an experiencing circuit and an observing circuit,” the authors write. “They are different, but each is important, and integrating them means building both and then linking them. We want our kids to not only feel their feelings and sense their sensations but also to be able to notice how their body feels, to be able to witness their own emotions.”

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    How mindfulness can help your child learn to handle and control his emotions

    Instilling mindfulness in children is something Siegel and Bryson championed in their bestselling book, especially when it comes to dealing with their feelings. The goal is to make sure they don’t experience their emotions but also observe them.

    Mindfulness teaches kids to be aware of their feelings

    Thrive Global writes, “Teaching your child to ask, ‘What is my brain doing right now?’ allows them to step back from the chaos going on in their head and study it versus being consumed by it. You don’t want a child that is overwhelmed by feelings or denies their feelings. You want your kid to notice their feelings — and do something about them.”

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    Mindfulness teaches kids how to manage anger

    One emotion that children (and even grown-ups) may not know how to express is anger. Some kids resort to tantrums or physically hurting their parents, siblings, or friends when they feel upset or frustrated. Psychology Today says anger management issues in adulthood can often be traced back to things learned in childhood. If a child witnesses the adults in his life use aggression to express anger, he will likely engage in aggressive behavior himself.

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    According to Maggie Richards, founder of Smiley Minds, an organization that advocates for emotional health in children, mindfulness techniques like meditation “can empower kids to manage their emotions, even when they don’t know what to do with all their feelings.” Mindfulness has also been proven to help young people “learn to calm their brains and gain greater control over their choices in healthy behaviors,” says Psychology Today.

    Mindfulness helps kids overcome fear and anxiety

    It’s not just adults who tend to worry about or stress over life — kids do that, too! “Children worry about the ‘big things’ in life — will I pass this test, will I get a good job? — and mindfulness gives them the tools to fight the fear,” Claire Kelly, director of curricula and training at the Mindfulness in Schools Project, tells Vitality Healthy Kids.

    Kelly continues, “The more they can learn to recognize their stress responses, the more they’re able to take steps to feel more relaxed.”

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    Mindful Schools also notes when children are allowed to learn how to manage and deal with their emotions, “Emotional storms occur less frequently, and with less intensity. Feelings of calm or peace often increase in frequency.”

    Mindfulness encourages kids to be grateful

    A beautiful thing about mindfulness is it allows us to be more in tune with not only our emotions but also with the things going on around us, from the sounds we hear to the taste of the food we eat to the little blessings we experience every day. When a child is encouraged to pay attention to those things that many might typically ignore, he learns to appreciate them more.

    “It’s just a moment when you need to decompress a bit and just be present,” Maria Hersey, Ph.D., U.S. director of education and training at The Hawn Foundation, which trains educators to teach mindfulness, tells Parents. “It’s really about taking that time to be calm and peaceful and remember the things that are important in life and really focus on the positive.”

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    To learn more about how your preschooler can benefit from the mindfulness technique of meditation, click here.

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