Your child's day is filled with noise, motion and lights. From TVs blaring, phones buzzing and more, their days can be filled with devices and distractions. These distractions make the brain work harder. A National Safety Council white paper said, "Human brains do not perform two tasks at the same time. Instead, the brain handles tasks sequentially, switching between one task and another." Over time, these distractions cause stress, decrease productivity and can effect memory and sleep. Children are particularly susceptible to distraction since they have not learned how to tune out other information. This quality makes children more observant than adults, but children also cannot focus the same.
One way to focus is through the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment in a nonjudgmental way. The brain is highly attuned to stimuli around, but allows that stimuli to pass through in a calm manner. Mindfulness has been shown to enhance focus as well as provide other physical and mental benefits.
Children can be taught mindfulness at an early age. Here are some tips:
Breathe from the belly- Encourage children to take deep, calming breaths from their stomach, not their lungs. Breathing from the diaphragm is the base of many mindfulness and meditative practices and calms the heart rate.
Have a sensory walk- When walking to the car, store, or at a park, point out specific objects around you. Have your child point out what they observe and include specific details in those observations.
Encourage single-tasking- Don't praise multi-tasking, recognize concentrating on one thing. Model this behavior at home by trying to do one thing at a time.
Treat your brain like a muscle by practicing mindfulness. Over time, it will become easier for you and your child to focus and tune out the technology all around.
Carrie Rogers-Whitehead is the CEO of Digital Respons-Ability, which incorporates mindfulness and meditation in their student workshops around technology.