Mindfulness: Helping Your Child Set Daily Intentions for the School Day
As a school counselor, I like to incorporate mindfulness in my work with both students and teachers. Mindfulness means being present and aware of what is going on in your life and how you are physically, emotionally, and mentally responding. It means being reflective on your actions and impacts on yourself, those around you, and your larger extended community. Self-awareness is a big part of mindfulness and it is something I like to promote with our entire school community.
A mindfulness practice that I have found helpful in my work as school counselor and former child and family therapist is intention setting. An intention is a clear and positive goal regarding what you want to have and experience in life. It is something that gives you clear direction for your day, despite the challenges that you may be facing.
Returning to school during a pandemic can bring up a lot of difficult emotions for children. They may be returning to school with a lot of worries about health, changes in routine, and not being able to socialize with their friends. Teaching your child to set daily intentions is one way to help alleviate some of your child's anxiety about their school day. Daily intention setting helps give focus and direction for your child's day.
Here are steps to help your child set daily intentions for their day:
Start with the following questions to help your child begin thinking about how they would like to start the school day or be during the school day.
What do you want to accomplish today?
How do you want to engage with others today?
How do you want to treat yourself and others today?
How do you want to engage with the community today?
What matters most to you?
What would you like to build or nurture in your life today?
Is there something you’d like to let go of today?
What would make you proud today?
What do you want to express gratitude for today?
What are you doing when you feel like your best, truest self?
2. Have your child sit or lie in a comfortable position and close their eyes.
3. Have your child come up with a "code" word or phrase that helps them remember their intention for that day (Example: "Peace" "Calm" "Patience" or "I can do hard things", "I believe in myself", "I am a good friend").
4. Have your child think of your code word or phrase. As they take their next breath in, say the word or phrase in their head. Repeat three more times.
5. Ask your child to think about the reason they chose the code word or phrase. Ask your child, "What does this word or phrase mean to you?"
6. When they think of this word or phrase, what do they picture? What do they feel?
7. Have your child concentrate on that image for a moment as they take a few more deep breaths.
8. When they're ready, have them gently open your eyes
9. Remind your child to practice this mindfulness exercise throughout the day when they need a reminder of their daily intention.
Check out the following websites for more information about how to practice setting daily intentions with your child and/or family: