Six Ways to Keep Your Kids in the Present

The pace of today’s world, with schedules and deadlines and immediate communication, has us—and our kids—racing through life. We move from one thing to the next, rarely slowing down to appreciate any given moment. The stress of being endlessly overwhelmed has harmful effects on both our short- and long-term health and happiness.

With technology advancing at its current rate, this daily life speed will only increase. Our children will surely live at a speed that would blow our forefathers’ minds. As such, we can help our kids not just now but in their fast-paced future by arming them with mindfulness tools.

Here are six relatively simple ways to keep your kids in the present moment, a task that increases relaxation, gratitude and creativity.

Put your screens away— Shawn Stevenson, creator of the “The Model Health Show,” warns that taking out your phone to “just check” on messages or social media often leads you down an internet rabbit hole that has you staring at your phone—and not the world around you—for prolonged periods. Set family phone and screen-time rules (e.g., no phones at meals, no screens after 8 p.m.), and set a good example by following them yourself without exception.

Take your child to yoga— Any type of fitness is great for bringing your child’s attention back to their body and the physical space around them, but yoga translates especially well. The goal of yoga is not to get anywhere but to stay in the moment and just breathe, which raises body awareness and stops wandering thoughts.

Practice daily gratitude— When seated around the kitchen table or getting ready for bed, ask your kids to name three things they’re grateful for and share what you’re grateful for. By routinely turning your kids’ focus to what they have rather than what they want or need, they’ll stay more grounded in “now.”

Encourage STOP breaks ­—If it feels like your kid gets stuck in their head and limited by an anxious inner voice, happiness expert Petra Kolber suggests teaching them to STOP: S tand up, T ake a walk, O bserve their surroundings, P ick a positive thought. Learn to recognize your child’s triggers and use STOP to redirect their focus from past mistakes or future consequences to the present moment.

Limit documentation— In our social media culture, many people are so dedicated to documenting their experiences that they actually miss out on the experiences themselves. Set a family limit on the number of pictures or videos any member can take on a given excursion. Maybe one or two photos at the onset, then the phones or cameras go away so everyone can enjoy the view with their eyes, not a lens.

Make the journey the reward— Our society touts a future-oriented mindset: Do something now to reap a reward later. While at times necessary, this type of thinking takes you out of the moment. Try to shift your child’s thinking just a touch by focusing on the process, not the product. For example, point out how much joy they derived from drawing a picture rather than commenting on the quality of the picture itself. Or remind them how empowered they felt improving their swing instead of focusing solely on the home run.

Photo credit: Jessica Rockowitz, Unsplash