If you are anything like me, the minute a school fundraiser folder comes home from school you back away slowly, keeping your eye on the potential attacker and then run, fast, in the other direction. Clearly, I’m not a big fan.
The schools need money. I know this. But I epically failed at an attemped sales career for a damn good reason. I hate selling things. So when my very enthused kids came home all stoked for their Apex Leadership virtual fundraiser my groan was audible before I had the good sense to rein it in.
We were (predictably) total failures at bringing in money for the school. But, my kids did bring home more than just a secondhand high from the Apex folks who were “meeting” with them each morning to pump them up.
It’s a practice called Kind Checks and Mind Checks and it is the reason I hope you keep right on reading.
The Benefits of Introducing Mindfulness to Kids
Did you know that kids are actually better positioned to see positive outcomes from mindfulness than adults? It’s true! This is because their brains are still developing.
In the New York Times guide, “Mindfulness for Children,” David Gelles wrote, “Part of the reason why mindfulness is so effective for children can be explained by the way the brain develops. While our brains are constantly developing throughout our lives, connections in the prefrontal circuits are created at their fastest rate during childhood.
Mindfulness, which promotes skills that are controlled in the prefrontal cortex, like focus and cognitive control, can therefore have a particular impact on the development of skills including self-regulation, judgment and patience during childhood.”
Kids stand to benefit in tons and tons of ways from mindfulness, including:
- Development self-regulation, judgment, and patience
- Decreased anxiety
- Improved mood and happiness
- Enhanced ability to focus
- Boosted immune system
- Do I need to go on?
But, HOW? How do overstretched parents find the time to work this into their already overcommitted schedules? Start with this simple practice.
Kind Checks and Mind Checks
The basic idea behind this practice is to get your child to check in with another person and check in with themselves at least once per day. What do I mean by check in?
“Checking in” means that they should inquire about the emotional well being of someone else, like a friend or teacher, and the emotional well being of themselves at least one time per day.
For example, my son could do a Kind Check by asking his classmate if they are okay or if they need help after seeing them struggle with completing an activity. Kind Checks build empathy and compassion.
That same son could do a Mind Check by “looking” inside himself and simply determining how he is feeling. Is he sad, happy, angry, apathetic, worried, anxious, excited? Mind Checks build self regulation and emotional intelligence.
Kind Checks and Mind Checks also give parents an opportunity to discuss and name the vast array of human emotions that we all experience. This is especially important with boys when seeking to parent away from the “boys will be boys” mentality.
These practices can be introduced over dinner or on a walk or in a ride in the car. Once your kids understand how it works, encourage them to practice it during the day with one Kind Check and One Mind Check. Checking in with them can then become part of your routine, just like you ask them how their day was or what they did in school.
And, if you forget, no biggie! A founding principle of mindfulness is that it is lacking in judgement. So don’t beat yourself up if you don’t remember it every single day, or even close to that. It’s called a practice for reason and neither you or your kids will ever perfect it.
Oh, hello! I am so happy you are here. Follow/read me at
Kristen Sears Cudd
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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