Mindful Children: The Power Of Or
Raising mindful children is not an easy task, but it’s worth the time and energy. It doesn’t happen over night, so keep going, even when you feel like you’re failing.
If I was to identify one thing that was the most challenging when I was bringing up my children, it would probably be teaching them to be as non-judgemental as possible. To be more mindful.
Living in a world where you are compared to others from such an early age, means that comparing others becomes an automatic behaviour. Judgement is a by-product of comparison and, sadly, too few people make the effort to consciously change that.
It is slightly easier to support your children until they become teenagers.
Suddenly, there is a huge change as their insecurities rocket and they subject themselves to intense self scrutiny, as a measure of their self-worth.
Earlier, when they are still children, they are more focused on discovering themselves and the world around them. They accumulate a lot of new information and that keeps them busy. But when they reach the teenage years and their minds expand, they begin to observe. To compare themselves with the others – and we know what a whirlpool that is …
Comparing Is, Most Probably, Scaring
I still remember how annoyed I was, when I was growing up and my parents used to compare me with other children. I hated it! With strong memories of those feelings, I promised myself that when I had children, I would never compare them to others. Most importantly, I would teach them about the negative effects that comparing others has on yourself, others and interactions with others.
So, when my children began to come home with stories of who did what and how “not cool” it was, I started to play a little game. I called it the “Or” game.
When my daughter would tell me that one of her friends responded in a mean way, without being provoked, I would say: “Or maybe she heard something other than what you intended? What might she have heard?”
After pausing with a confused look on her face, my daughter would recall various stories that her friend had told her and consider that, that may have been the reason for her reaction.
I would then say something like “Or could it be at all possible that you heard something different in her response than what she intended ?” Another pause with a muddle face, only to be followed by some really interesting reasoning about how she may, indeed have misheard her friend. Mindfulness 101, I suppose…
The “Or” Game For Mindful Children
The great thing about the “Or” game is that after a while it begins to take on a life of its own and your children’s way of thinking will start to change.
They will realise that perception is a tricky thing and that situations are not as simple as they may first appear. That relationships are improved when you take the time to consider what someone else meant, what the reasoning behind their response might be, by asking questions o clarify meaning.
For example, “What do you mean?” or “Is this what you meant?”. Questions like these save you from the stress of overthinking, the anxiety of wondering what the person’s intentions were and the pain of pondering whether you are still friends .
Not to mention the relief for your own self-worth and confidence is when you realise that it is perception that makes you think that any conversation is triggered by a response to you, when in fact, they hardly ever are.
I really recommend giving this mindfulness game a go, not only with your children, but with yourself and your friends too. You’ll be surprised by how different things start to feel when you approach a conversation with a more mindful outlook.
Kind Warning: expect your children to turn the game on you, when you might slip down the slippery road of judging others. Although this is always a great sign that you are indeed, raising mindful children.
SparkYourBloom Today and Everyday!