Last night I had the opportunity to attend a great workshop sponsored by our school district. The workshop is through KidPower, whose mission is “To teach people of all ages and abilities how to use their power to stay safe, act wisely, and believe in themselves.” The workshop entailed going through role-plays so that parents could educate their children on how to respond to situations by using their own voice and power to stay safe. The scenarios spanned from handling aggression on the playground to setting boundaries with an overly-affectionate grandmother. Throughout the workshop, in almost every single role-play, the child needed to stay calm and confident. They needed to be aware and assess their internal emotions and their external senses. They needed to have self-compassion. They needed to take these first steps before responding to the situation.
These first steps are exactly where the mindfulness practices could really help children. If kids can build the foundational tools to stay calm, confident, be aware of their own feelings and external happenings, then they have a better chance of responding. Now granted, if they just did mindfulness and didn’t have the tools that KidPower offered, then that also wouldn’t be effective in unsafe situations. But kids first need to be able to regulate their own emotions and control their own awareness and attention, which is where the power of mindfulness resides. By training children in mindfulness, kids are literally strengthening the capacities in their brain to help them calmly “think” before they act.