Mindfulness for Parents of Older School-aged Children I

Mindful family

By Annie McLean

Mindful Parenting of Children Ages 8-11

Mindfulness is defined as the ability to be present in the moment. The practice of mindfulness involves paying attention to what is going on around you, as well as what is going on within you (Sheridan, 2016). Accepting your own thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and experiences as they come and go throughout your day is practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is purposeful and takes practice.


As a parent of a child aged 8-11, mindfulness probably does not come easily. You are involved in your child’s life and have a lot of responsibilities on your plate. Your child is physically active and developing his or her motor skills every day (Perry, Hockenberry, Lowdermilk & Wilson, 2017). Your child learns quickly at school, may enjoy reading and writing, and has preferences for stories and information about adventure, romance, science fiction, or fantasy. He or she knows how to understand time and dates, is able to classify objects, can do puzzles and understands that volumes of liquid are conserved, no matter which container the volume is poured into. Your child keeps you busy with being involved in household tasks, taking lessons, and is probably coming up with new ideas, games, and projects all the time.


Your child’s social skills are blossoming, and he or she may now be more self-critical than ever before (Perry et al., 2017). As a parent, you can practice mindfulness when your child is feeling poorly about him or herself and be careful not to let your own negative thoughts be verbalized, as they may come off as judgement towards your child (Sheridan, 2016). When listening to your child, accept your own thoughts and emotions as they come, and receive those thoughts, not trying to change them. You can teach your child to practice mindfulness in this scenario, and help them learn to accept their emotions, thoughts and experiences, even when they are unwanted. Together with your child, you can be present and aware of the moment, and not focused on what can be done to fix it or “move on” (Sheridan, 2016).

Mindful parenting

Mindful Presence

Mindful Presence

One exercise you can try with your child to help develop your mindfulness skills is to practice mindful presence (Sheridan, 2016). Similarly, to how you practice mindfulness when your child is feeling critical of him or herself, you can practice mindful presence in everyday activities. Choose an activity that you do with your child regularly, such as walking to school, doing homework with them, or putting them to bed (Marlowe, 2013). Focus on this experience with your child and attend to any feelings you have of being in a hurry, not forcing the feelings to go away, but realizing that they are there (Sheridan, 2016). Take a couple of deep breaths, and intentionally interact with your child (Marlowe, 2013). Picture this interaction like an opportunity for connection, instead of a routine task that is done every day. Notice when your mind wanders to other thoughts, such as tasks to get done that day, and gently bring your thoughts back to this interaction with your child (Sheridan, 2016).

Loving kindness

As your child is developing his or her identity during these years, he or she desires to be loved unconditionally, and looks to parents for affirmation (Perry et al., 2017). Your child understands rules and boundaries and wants to please his or her parent by doing the right thing. Although he or she may be spending more time with friends, and may sometimes push your boundaries, your child still yearns to be a part of your family and needs you to be a stable person in their life. By showing your child compassion, kindness and love, you can increase your own empathy for others, and promote a loving relationship between you and your child (Sheridan, 2016).

Loving-Kindness Meditation

Loving-Kindness Meditation

Loving-kindness meditation is a mindfulness practice that you can practice for yourself and for your child (Marlowe, 2013). To begin this exercise with yourself, picture your own self standing in front of you (Sheridan, 2016). Take a couple of deep breaths. Allow thoughts of well wishes to come into your mind, as if you are saying them to someone else. Tell your “self” that you wish them happiness, health, and peace, by saying or thinking these phrases: “May I be happy.” “May I be healthy.” “May I be at peace.” (Sheridan, 2016; Marlowe, 2013). You can use different phrases for different wishes that come to your mind (Sheridan, 2016). Do not worry if you find this exercise challenging but persevere and continue repeating these phrases through this exercise.

Loving-Kindness Meditation

To begin this exercise for your child, picture your child standing in front of you in a time where you felt connected to them and proud of them (Marlowe, 2013). Allow thoughts of well wishes for your child to flood your mind and think or say similar phrases to when you did this exercise for yourself: “May you be happy.” “May you be healthy.” “May you be at peace.” Accept any negative thoughts that come into your mind during this exercise and bring your thoughts back to the same loving-kindness phrases (Sheridan, 2016). You can further this exercise by picturing your child in front of you at a time when you were not as happy with them, such as when you felt disappointed, angry or sad with their behaviour (Marlowe, 2013). Repeat this process, and think or say the phrases again, picturing yourself being gentle and loving towards them, despite the conflict you may feel. You can also extend this exercise towards other people in your life that you may have conflict with, or do not know well (Sheridan, 2016). You may choose someone who serves you coffee every day, your child’s school-teacher, or a coworker. Loving-kindness meditation can be done every day to help you be gentle and kind with yourself, and help you sustain compassion for your child, especially through the stressful and challenging times.

View My Loving Kindness Meditation Video

Video created by Annie McLean
2:14 mins, November 2018
Made in Adobe Spark Video

Mindful Parent Resources

Foundation For A Mindful Society

Lotus Blue

This website helps parents understand what mindfulness is, how to practice it daily, and provides practical mindfulness exercises that parents can try. Audio recordings are given for parents to follow to carry out mindfulness and meditation exercises at home, and other resources including apps are listed. The magazine called “Mindful” can be subscribed to through this website. Parents can also read articles pertaining to mindfulness in regard to parenting, such as at the link: https://www.mindful.org/mindful-parenting-may-keep-kids-trouble/.

URL: https://www.mindful.org/

Mindful Families

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This website provides education about mindfulness in relation to family. Parents can find helpful articles and read about other parents’ experiences using mindfulness here. Parents can search through resources, such as songs, stories and exercises to help their children learn mindfulness as well. If parents live in Toronto, they can also find workshops in their area through this website.

URL: http://www.mindfulfamilies.ca/

Mindspace Clinic

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This clinic is located in Quebec (3 locations) and focuses on mindfulness as a basis for psychotherapy. The clinic provides various therapies led by psychologists and coaches that help people learn mindfulness. They also provide workshops, programs, professional training, and group classes that promote mindfulness in everyday life. Parents can find an interesting, helpful article through this website that relates mindfulness to life as a parent at the link: http://mindspaceclinic.com/11-tips-mindful-parenting/.

URL: https://www.mindspacewellbeing.com

Child Mind Institute Inc.

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This website can help parents learn about various psychological problems and actual diagnoses that school aged children often face, such as anxiety, OCD, sensory processing disorder, depression, bipolar disorders, autism, and many more. Parents can learn about mindfulness and how it can help their children and themselves, through the “Mindfulness” area of the website, which can be found at the link: https://childmind.org/topics/concerns/mindfulness/. An article specific to parents themselves can be found at: https://childmind.org/article/mindful-parenting-2/.

URL: https://childmind.org

Parent Support Services of BC

Lotus Blue

This website is based in BC and includes resources such as workshops and seminars (some of them are free) that parents can attend all over BC. Parents can look up their particular region and find the resources local to them at this link: https://www.parentsupportbc.ca/in-your-region/. Parents can also sign up to receive a newsletter in their email with updates and interesting information about parenting.

URL: https://www.parentsupportbc.ca/parenting-education/


Marlowe, S. (2013). Mindful practices for parents. MindfulFamilies.ca. Retrieved from http://www.mindfulfamilies.ca/index.php/mindful-families/mindful-parenting/practices-for-mindful-parenting

Perry, S., Hockenberry, M., Lowdermilk, D. & Wilson, D. (2017). Maternal Child Nursing in Canada. 2nd edition. Toronto: Elsevier (Mosby).

Sheridan, C. (2016). The Mindful Nurse: Using the Power of Mindfulness and Compassion to Help You Thrive in Your Work. Charleston, SC: Rivertime Press. ISBN: 978-0-9933245-2-9.

Mindfulness for Older Adolescents

Mindful Teen

By Haylee Hansvall

What is Mindfulness?


Mindfulness is rooted in ancient Eastern philosophy and is defined as “the ability to be present and attentive in the moment” (Sheridan, 2016, p. 29). What does it really mean to be present? We are truly present when we focus on only what is happening right now (Agarwal & Dixit, 2017). Mindfulness asks that you do not judge or dwell on what is happening in the present moment, but that you become aware of it and acknowledge it. Focusing on the present moment sets you up to let go of the past and not worry about the future, which can lessen feelings of anxiety and regret (Healthwise Staff, 2017). There are many forms of mindfulness practice. Focused meditation draws your attention to one thing such as your breath, and image, or how your body feels. Loving-kindness meditation asks you to think of something you like about yourself and other people you know (Oberle & Schonert-Reichel, 2014). Consistent practice of loving-kindness meditation has been shown to improve our self-esteem and feeling of social-connectedness.


Why Mindfulness is Awesome

Adolescence is a period of heightened stress due to many psychological, physical, and social changes all occurring at once (Agarwal & Dixit, 2017). Have you felt your heart race before an exam? Have you ever had trouble focusing on a specific task at school or work? Have you ever felt your mind jump endlessly from thought to thought? Have you ever panicked under pressure? Have you ever lost your temper over something little? It’s okay – most people your age have. There’s good news, though! We can train ourselves to be able to handle these situations better. While stress is a fact of life, but being stressed-out doesn’t have to be (Beach, n.d.). Mindfulness can help you make stress work in your favour by improving your concentration and being less likely to get thrown off track by distraction.

Mindfulness Benefits

Mindfulness can help us learn how to calm ourselves, lessen stress, and help improve our mood (Sheridan, 2016). Adolescents who practiced mindfulness training experienced an improvement of their ADHD symptoms and improved the quality of life of adolescents with depression (Tan, 2015). According to Anxiety Canada Youth (n.d.), focusing on the present moment makes it really hard for us to feel anxious because anxiety is connected to the past and the future. Did you know that mindfulness can improve the health of our bodies, too? Mindfulness has been shown to improve sleep, lower blood pressure, and improve symptoms of people who have chronic conditions like diabetes (Healthwise Staff, 2017).

How to Practice Mindfulness

In order to reap the benefits of mindfulness, the more you do it the better. Luckily, mindfulness can be practiced anytime, anywhere, and by anyone! You don’t have to be in a quiet room or a spiritual person to be mindful (Sheridan, 2016). So how do we practice being mindful? In the beginning, you may notice your mind wander. That’s expected as mindfulness is a learned skill. Try to refocus it back to the present moment when you feel it drift away. Here are some examples of ways to practice mindfulness:

Body Scan

Bosy scan

This exercise connects the mind with the body in the present moment. First, sit or stand comfortably. Focus your attention on your entire body, starting at your feet. Feel your toes wiggle and slowly work all the way up your body, ending at your head. Note the places where you feel tense or in pain. Send energy with your breath to relax these places (Healthwise Staff, 2017). This exercise can be done anywhere, at any time.

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating

Do you pay attention to the food when you eat? Many people tend to eat in a rush without paying much attention. This exercise asks you to really focus on eating a meal. Observe the food on your plate. Smell the aroma of the food. Notice what your stomach is telling you. Are you hungry? Notice what your mind is telling you. Do you like these foods? Focus on chewing and swallowing each bite in the present moment. What flavours do you taste? (Healthwise Staff, 2017). Eat slowly, with intention. How do you feel? Do you feel calm? Do you feel connected to the present moment?

Loving-Kindness Meditation

Loving Kindness

In her book, Sheridan (2016) describes the following loving-kindness meditation. Start by sitting or standing comfortably. Close your eyes. Slowly inhale and exhale three times. Picture yourself standing in front of you. Who do you see? Extend kind wishes to the image of yourself in front of you. Feel the kindness that you are sending yourself. Now, picture someone you know who has helped you. Send them kind wishes and connect this kindness with your breath in the present moment. Notice what you are wishing them. Next, picture someone you kind of know, but not well. Do the same for them. Next, picture someone you find difficult. Stay focused on the present moment and acknowledge your feelings you have toward this person. Send them genuinely kind wishes. Repeat the phrases to stay focused. Picture all four people in front of you. Bring your attention to your breath and slowly open your eyes. How do you feel?

Mindful Music

Mindful music

This exercise lets you choose your favourite song (or any song). Listening to music mindfully, not passively (really paying attention) can be a good stress reliever. First, sit comfortably and get rid of all distractions. Close your eyes and take two deep breaths, connecting yourself to the present moment. Take note of the silence and the sound of your breath before the music plays. When you hear the song play, focus on the beat of the music. Is it slow or fast? What does the song do to your heartbeat? Focus on how it makes you feel. What emotions do you feel? Listen to every lyric. What instruments do you hear? (Beach, n.d.).

Video: A One-Minute Meditation (“OM-M”)

Everyone has a minute or two to spare in their day. Watch the video below and follow along with me!

Video created by 
Haylee Hansvall
1:53 mins, November 2018
In Adobe Spark Video


Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS)

How mindful are you? The Mindful Attention Awareness Scale is a tool that will allow you to rate your own level of mindfulness. All you need to do is rate from 1-6 how frequently you experience each scenario on the list. Calculate your score by finding the average. The higher your score, the higher your level of mindfulness. Go ahead, give it a try!

URL: https://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/sites/default/files/mindfulnessscale.pdf

Headspace Mobile App

Headspace is a popular app that teaches you how to be mindful through guided mindfulness and meditation exercises. Examples of topics include stress, anxiety, sleep, procrastination, and focus. Some exercises also include interactive videos. You can even get started with Headspace’s Basics course for free!

URL: http:// https://www.headspace.com

Mindfulness – Foundry BC

Foundry BC is a health and wellness initiative designed for youth ages 12-24. This website has a wealth of information about mindfulness and where to find more support. You can also learn new ways to be mindful and read personal stories about how some teens have managed their mental health challenges.

URL: https://foundrybc.ca/resource/mindfulness/

Mindfulness for Teens

The website has several guided meditations that you can listen to from eating a raisin mindfully to being present as you feel your toes wiggle in your shoes. Other meditations include mindful movement, walking meditation, and loving-kindness meditation. The audio recordings range from three to thirty minutes. Try listening to one today!

URL: http://mindfulnessforteens.com/guided-meditations/

Growing up Stressed or Growing up Mindful?

Did you know that teenagers are the most stressed out aged group in America? Balancing a social life, school, planning for college, part-time jobs, and relationships – sometimes it can be a too much to handle. In this 20-minute TEDx talk, Dr. Chris Willard explains what happens in the body and in the mind during the stress response, and how being mindful can actually help you make stress a good thing.

URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znlsoaM_ALQ


Agarwal, A., & Dixit, V. (2017). The role of meditation on mindful awareness and life satisfaction of adolescents. Journal of Psychosocial Research, 12(1), 59–70.

Anxiety Youth Canada. (n.d.). Mindfulness exercises. Retrieved from

Beach, S. R. (n.d.). Mindfulness for teens. Retrieved from

Headspace. (2018). Logo [Digital Image]. Retrieved from https://www.headspace.com

Healthwise Staff. (2017). Mindfulness-based stress reduction. Retrieved from

Foundry BC. (2018). Logo [Digital Image]. Retrieved from https://foundrybc.ca

Oberle, E., & Schonert-Reichl, K. (2014). Mindfulness in adolescence: New directions for youth development, 142. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com

Sheridan, C. (2016). The mindful nurse: Using the power of mindfulness and compassion to help you thrive in your work. Charleston, SC: Rivertime Press.

Tan, L. B. (2016). A critical review of adolescent mindfulness-based programmes. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 21(2), 193–207. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1359104515577486