Most parents know that being mindful is beneficial. They know that being ‘aware’ allows them to be better parents, giving them the chance to choose a more measured response when their youngest child is having a mini melt down in the toy aisle, instead of giving in to a full-blown adult tantrum themselves. And who hasn’t been there, right?


During Ramadan – a time when over one billion Muslim people around the planet abstain from food and water from sunrise to sunset in order to focus on their spirituality – many people find mindfulness to be incredibly useful. It allows them to tap into the strength of the mind to channel empathy, compassion, self-discipline and a deeper understanding of what it means to be human. As you can probably imagine, it’s as good for our kids to be mindful as it is for us (whether we’re fasting or not). There is a growing amount of research that suggests that, through mindfulness, children can boost attention spans, calm down (toy aisle anyone?) and make healthier decisions. Here’s how to simply and quickly create mindfulness traditions that will benefit both you and your children for a lifetime. 

Lead by example…
It might be a challenge to teach your kids how to knit if you’ve never picked up knitting needles before. The same goes for mindfulness, a skill that needs to be practiced. Kick start your own mindfulness practice with a five- or ten-minute meditation session each day. You don’t need to devote an entire room to meditation to become more mindful, unless you want to of course. Simply incorporate mindfulness into your daily activities, like when you’re cooking or having a bath. The idea is to be fully present in what you’re doing. If that sounds intimidating, consider this: you might be something of a mindfulness pro already. Driving is considered mindful, as is listening to your kids while they tell you about their day. Watching the sunset is thought to be mindful, as is savouring a piece of cake. See? You’ve got this!

Know what you want…
Are you expecting mindfulness to stop your child from whining? Do you want it to calm your extroverted little one? Do you want it to offer you more me time? If you answered yes to any of the above, you might be being unrealistic. While feeling calmer and being quieter might be side effects of being mindful, they shouldn’t be the purpose. The idea behind teaching mindfulness to young people is to offer them the skills they need to develop an awareness of their inner and outer experiences, help them recognise that their thoughts are impermanent, teach them how emotions come about (and disappear), show them how to recognise when they’re not being focused, and provide coping tools for managing feelings. Remember, kids throw tantrums. They get excited. They break stuff. They nag. This is normal. Mindfulness is unlikely to make that go away. 

Take it easy…
Mindfulness can be a pretty complicated idea for little ones to grasp. The basic idea is that mindfulness is being aware. It’s keeping an eye on how our minds and bodies feel, what we’re thinking, and what is happening around us right now. If you can get your kids to relax and really focus on the present for even just two to three minutes a day, you’re on the right path. 

Don’t push it…
Your kids might be adopting mindfulness like mini Dalai Lamas one day and then acting out the next. That’s okay. Sometimes they’ll be interested, and sometimes they won’t. When they aren’t, drop the mindfulness talk and pick up the lessons again another time. You might even want to use their disinterest as a way to practice non-attachment to outcomes yourself!

Eight mindfulness traditions you can develop with your children this week

Listen…
Tell your kids you’ll be making a sound – use wind chimes, a Tibetan singing bowl, or a bell – and ask them to listen carefully until they can’t hear the sound anymore. 

Walk…
Take ‘in-the-moment strolls’ together and notice things you’ve never seen before. Dedicate one minute to silence and pay attention to what you can hear: birds, laughter, cars, a lawnmower. That is mindfulness. Smaller kids might enjoy looking at their surroundings through these wonderful Fanny & Alexander Wooden Binoculars (AED308), while toddlers will love getting around their neighbourhood on this Baghera Vintage Tractor (AED1,047).

Be a weather reporter
Get your kids to describe their emotions by giving a report of their weather. Are they sunny, rainy, stormy, dusty, foggy, clear, or a hurricane? This allows little ones to look at their present state without overly identifying it with emotions. We can’t change the weather outside, just like we can’t always change our feelings. We can, however, change how we relate to them: “I am not the rain, but I see that it is raining”.

Breathe…
Asking little people to pay attention to their breath might be a tough ask. Instead, get your kids to lie on their backs with a stuffed animal on their tummy. Our Jellycat Moss Monkey (AED140) is perfect for this exercise. Ask your little ones to pay attention to the rise and fall of Moss Monkey as they breathe in and out. 

Channel Spiderman
Ask children to use their ‘spidey senses’ to focus on what they can taste, smell, see, hear and touch in the present moment. 

Be grateful…
Gratitude is key to mindfulness. At dinner time, or breakfast, or before bed, ask each family member to share one thing that they are thankful for that day. For a longer-term gratitude project, take a mason jar and keep it in the kitchen. Ask everyone to write one thing they’re grateful for on a small strip of paper each day and pop the papers into the jar. Open the jar once a year – maybe on New Year’s Eve or even Eid – and read through these notes of gratitude. 

Eat…
Getting in touch with a food’s taste, texture and flavour, and being mindful of eating rather than just shoveling something in, can help young people savour their meals more. Put a few raisins and dried apricots in this Bam Bam Bowl (AED62) and ask your children to describe the way the dried fruit feels in their hands. What does it smell like? What does it taste like? 

Have a good time
Learning to be more mindful should be fun. Some awareness tools will work and some won’t, and that’s totally okay. Take it easy, and don’t forget to be present in the moment.