Last week I went to a Mindfulness Parent Meeting at an elementary school. The speaker, Michelle Thompson from Project Mindfulness, was inspiring. Here are some of the points I heard her make.
- Mindfulness does not mean learning to be calm.
- Mindfulness is being present in the moment. When we are present in a moment we are better able to deal with whatever is going on around us. Sometimes that leads to being calm.
- We should not be judgmental in a negative way about where we are in the practice of being present in each moment.
- We should use our awareness that being distracted is a signal to stop and take a deep breath to focus on the present moment without negative judgment.
- Try to incorporate moments of presence or mindfulness to grow your skills. 2 minutes in the morning to sit quietly breathing, 2 minutes before you go to sleep to do the same or take 3 deep breaths before you eat a meal as examples how to practice mindfulness. We each need to find times that work in our lives. Just like every other skill we are trying to learn we get better with practice.
- It is our choice to pay attention/ be present/ be mindful. All of our actions are choices that can lead us to the outcomes we want in life. By living with awareness we are empowered.
While I was listening, I saw parallels between the practice of mindfulness and our game Choice-A-Quence. We continue to be excited to get the game in the hands of children.
- The purpose of our game is not for children to be calm. It is for each child to understand that everything he or she does is a choice and that each choice leads to consequences.
- From our experience playing Choice-A-Quence with children, we have found that as a child learns the language of choices and consequences they accept negative consequences more calmly.
- Developing a shared language and set of expectations (in a family or classroom) regarding choices and consequences helps everyone take negative judgment off the individual. By playing the game and using the cards to deal with real life, children learn to think, “I am not a bad person, my choice was bad and this next action is how I will fix my mistake.”
- By playing our game often and having the cards displayed, parents and teachers are reminded to address social and behavioral choices, both positive and negative, as they occur. We are reminded to give positive reinforcement for positive choices along with dealing with negative choices before things go to far.
- We recommend learning the cards slowly over time and focus on choices that are important to your child.