We love our children. We want them to be happy, healthy and achieve their fullest potential. As parents, we try to make the right decisions for our kids and when we make mistakes, they are usually with the best of intentions.
Happily, as an educator over the last couple of decades, I have seen parents become evermore involved and invested in their kids’ lives. I have seen parents develop beautiful friendships with their children. (Something that was not really “the norm” when I was growing up.) I have also seen parents run ragged by work lives and hectic schedules, with the desire (and sometimes pressure) to keep their children active and enriched in programmed, after school activities.
I have seen technology affect the way children learn, the way families communicate with one another, and the way they spend time with each other. In our precarious world, I have seen parents instinctively want to shelter their children, often solving their problems for them or removing all adversity. There is no judgment with any of these tendencies. It is just the way family dynamics have developed due to societal and technological influences.
However, throughout the years, I have also seen something change in our kids. I have seen children become less confident in themselves and feel reticent to take risks that could enhance the growth of their characters and abilities. I have seen them feel evermore fearful of failure and disappointment. I have seen them become highly self-critical and prone to negatively compare their self-worth to that of others. I have seen anxiety and depression skyrocket, and resilience plummet.
I cannot say for sure what has caused all of these shifts. Our modern lives are busy and complex, and we are constantly bombarded with information and “connected” through social media. We are part of a materialistic society that is faced with a very real environmental crisis, and the news that we watch is constantly filling our heads with the latest tragedy or violence. In addition, it is without a doubt, so hard to maintain a work-life balance while encouraging our kids to stay off their phones or iPads long enough to even eat supper together. We have become a society of multi-taskers and our kids are feeling simultaneously over-loaded and over-protected.
Regardless of what has caused the shift that I’ve witnessed over the last several years, I increasingly see the need for mindfulness training in and out of the classroom. More then ever before, children need to feel connected to one another, feel compassion for themselves and others, feel gratitude for the positive aspects of their lives and remain optimistic in the face of challenges.
Our future depends on raising kind, creative and confident children who will become the problem-solvers, activists, and altruists of our world. Yes, we all cherish our kids and want to shield them from needless suffering. But maybe rather than removing every potential difficulty, we should equip them with tools to help them weather the inevitable storms of life and bounce back with positivity.
Mindfulness is an easily accessible strategy that we can provide to our children to help them cope with adversity, acknowledge and find joy in simple pleasures, and love and respect themselves and others. This is an effective way that we can support them to feel mentally, emotionally and physically healthy, both now and as they grow.
One way you can bring more mindfulness to your children is to become part of our WISE Program.