There has been a strong focus on understanding the differences in brain development and brain function in children with ADHD. We know that attention issues like ADHD aren’t just a lack of willpower, intelligence, or focus. The structural and functional differences in the brains of kids are a continued point of research. We also know that the brain is an organ that can be ‘trained.’ This ability for our brain to change is known as neuroplasticity, and it’s the principle that Fast ForWord Home taps into to create fast, permanent changes in a child's brain, which make reading and learning easier. When a child is struggling with attention issues, they can train their brain to focus and stay present, and mindfulness exercises are a great way to do that. Think of mindfulness exercises as attention training techniques!
Fostering attention and mindfulness at home can help your child develop self control and self awareness skills, and teaches them coping mechanisms for stressful situations. There are a number of ways you can help your child train his or her brain, to become more focused and mindful. As an added bonus, introducing more mindfulness into your everyday routine at home may just be a benefit to your whole family! Here are some tips for getting started.
Tap into their inner superhero -
Have your kids use their “Spidey Sense” and focus on their senses. From super smell to super sight, when your child is super-focused on their senses, they will be focused on the present and more aware of their surroundings.
Introduce superhero themed yoga poses! Yoga can instill a sense of calm and strength, while the specific body poses require focus and attention. Here’s a fun resource to help you get started: Superhero School Yoga.
Use visual guides -
A mindfulness jar is a great way to show kids how impactful it can be to just be still and settled. Once created, a mindfulness jar can be a timer for future breathing breaks! Here’s a step-by-step guide from mindful.org: How to Create a Glitter Jar for Kids.
Create mindfulness prompts and post them throughout your home to trigger a mindful moment. Come up with a phrase, write it on some Post-It notes, and stick the notes around the house! Everytime you come across one, take three conscious breaths to get yourself in the moment.
Create rituals -
Add a meditation to your morning shower and start each day with positive thoughts!
Make beds, mindfully. Set the tone for a productive day by making this habit a must-do every morning.
Spend just ten minutes a day decluttering. Teaching your child how to simplify and organize gives them a sense of control. It also helps establish a calm environment for better focus.
Practice and perfect the Body Scan, one of the basic principles of mindfulness, and encourage your child to do this every day.
Practice mindful breathing -
Check YouTube for breath meditation and mindful breathing exercises designed for your child’s age group.
Find a Hoberman sphere and introduce the concept of the breath ball to your child!
Breathe together and let your child see how important mindful breathing is to you. Here are 5 breathing techniques for you to master!
Blow bubbles! Have your child focus on taking deep, slow breaths and filling their bubbles purposefully. Have him or her pay attention to how the bubbles grow, float and even pop!
Get moving -
Have your child jump up and down, run in place, or dance like crazy for one minute. Next, have your child sit down, close their eyes, and put their hands over his or her heart. Have your child feel their heartbeat and breathing. Have them talk through what else they feel and notice about their bodies.
Turn a walk outside into a safari! Challenge your child to notice as many animals as possible — anything that walks, flies, swims, and crawls! They will need to keep moving, and focus on the world around them to find all of the critters along the way.
Challenge your child to a game with balloons! Tell him or her that the goal is to keep the balloon off the ground, while pretending that the balloon is an egg. Have your child focus on moving slowly, gently, and intentionally to keep the balloon afloat.
Once you start working mindfulness exercises into your daily routine, you’ll find the routines and exercises that work best for your child and family. It will take practice and patience to make these exercises a habit, but but these skills are incredibly powerful, especially for children who struggle with attention issues. Much like the Fast ForWord program, mindfulness exercises develop the inner skills a child has to better control their focus, impulses, and emotions.