by Stephanie Slaughter
Whether balancing schoolwork or chores, a first job or bullying by peers, the life of a teenager is stressful. Promoting mindfulness for teens can help them find peace because they learn to focus on and handle stress one moment at a time—and live fully in each moment. Try the following four tips to encourage mindfulness in your teenager.
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1. Practice Meditation
Teach your teen to practice meditation or practice with them. Play soft music, sit or lie comfortably and relax. Help your teen to observe the small details, such as the inhalation and exhalation of their breath, as they clearing their mind and let go of stress. Your teen can try concentrating on just their breath and having a clear mind, or they might be mindful of their wandering thoughts and notice how each makes them feel. Meditation makes for a good morning routine because it can help prepare your teen for what they may face that day.
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2. Teach Awareness
Awareness—training your mind to notice sights, smells, and sounds, and using all five senses to know who is around you and what is happening—is a skill that takes training, yet it can be beneficial in many areas of life. Awareness allows your teen to live in the moment, experiencing what is happening around them while also being aware of their surroundings. Teens tend to focus on their phones or other devices, which can lead to accidents or make them easier targets for a criminal. Being aware and mindful will help prevent such incidents and allow your teen to live more fully because they are focusing on each moment.
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3. Use Video Games
Although they have their cons, video games are generally part of a teen’s life. Practicing mindfulness while playing them means your teen can focus on the game, pay attention to details and process pieces of information, leading to a win. Many games require concentration and a focus on multiple details at once. When your teen is playing a flight simulation game, for example, they must watch the controls, the horizon and other parts of a plane cockpit to fly successfully. Here are some tips for monitoring screen time when using video games as a mindfulness exercise.
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4. Practice Focused Breathing
Ever notice what professional athletes are doing on the sidelines during a tough game? You might observe them focusing on their breathing or taking a moment to calm their mind while breathing deeply. Your teen can do the same thing: simply stop for a moment in a stressful situation and breathe. This kind of mindful breathing can clear your teen’s head, re-center their mind and body and help them let go of whatever is causing their stress or anxiety. There are even apps that can help your teen focus on their breathing.
Practicing focused breathing can be especially helpful during a confrontation. As parents, you know that you sometimes have to step back and count to 10 in a tense situation to regain control over your thoughts and emotions. That practice also can help your teen to handle a stressful situation or de-escalate a confrontation.
Bonus: Mindfulness Can Help Reduce Anxiety
Stress can weigh heavily on a teen but being mindful and aware can help reduce their anxiety. By trying these four tips, you can help your teen calm their mind, focus and concentrate, clear their mind of negativity and re-center their mind and body in times of stress or confrontation.
Stephanie Slaughter began a career in the nursing and surgical technology fields 20 years ago but has since chosen a new career path. More teacher than doer, she has researched, written and edited pieces on a variety of medical, wellness and nutrition topics for the past 15 years as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of three. She currently is completing a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.