The techniques of mindful awareness have helped millions of adults reduce stress in their lives. Now, children—who are under more pressure than ever before—can learn to protect themselves with these well-established methods adapted for their ages. Based on a program affiliated with UCLA, The Mindful Child is a groundbreaking book, the first to show parents how to teach these transformative practices to their children.
Mindful awareness works by enabling you to pay closer attention to what is happening within you—your thoughts, feelings, and emotions—so you can better understand what is happening to you. The Mindful Child extends the vast benefits of mindfulness training to children from four to eighteen years old with age-appropriate exercises, songs, games, and fables that Susan Kaiser Greenland has developed over more than a decade of teaching mindful awareness to kids. These fun and friendly techniques build kids’ inner and outer awareness and attention, which positively affects their academic performance as well as their social and emotional skills, such as making friends, being compassionate and kind to others, and playing sports, while also providing tools to manage stress and to overcome specific challenges like insomnia, overeating, ADHD, hyper-perfectionism, anxiety, and chronic pain. When children take a few moments before responding to stressful situations, they allow their own healthy inner compasses to click in and guide them to become more thoughtful, resilient, and empathetic. The step-by-step process of mental training presented in The Mindful Child provides tools from which all children—and all families—will benefit.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Susan Kaiser Greenland is a mindfulness and meditation teacher. She has studied meditation with teachers from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition since 1997.
Susan worked as a corporate lawyer from 1988 to 2005. During that time she developed the Inner Kids program while volunteering in public schools teaching secular mindfulness. Inner Kids is a hybrid of classical mindfulness and meditation practices that have been adapted for children, and one of the first mindfulness programs in education. Susan and her husband, the author Seth Greenland, founded The Inner Kids Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that taught secular mindfulness in schools and community-based programs in the greater Los Angeles area from 2001 through 2009. She eventually left her law practice to work with children, teachers, and parents full-time.
Susan was on the clinical team of the Pediatric Pain Clinic at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, co-investigator on a UCLA research study on the impact of mindfulness in education, and a collaborator on an investigation of mindful eating for children and caregivers. Research on the Inner Kids elementary school program has been published in the Journal of Applied School Psychology.
Quoted in numerous magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, USA Today, Real Simple, and Parents Magazine, Susan has also written for the Huffington Post and other publications. She currently works in the United States and abroad as an author, public speaker, and educator on the subject of sharing secular mindfulness and meditation with children and families.
Introduction The New ABCs: Attention, Balance, and Compassion – 1
Chapter 1 An Opportunity: Using the Science of Mindful Awareness – 21
Chapter 2 Getting Started: Understand and Fuel Your Motivation – 37
Chapter 3 As Simple as Breathing: Get Started with Relaxation and Calming – 61
Chapter 4 Refined Awareness: Learn How to Pay Attention – 87
Chapter 5 Friendly Awareness: Meditate, Speak, Relate, and Act Mindfully and Compassionately – 107
Chapter 6 Sensory Awareness: Become Aware of the Physical World – 125
Chapter 7 Emotional Freedom: Release Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Feelings – 153
Chapter 8 Tuning In to Other People: Develop Parent/Child Attunement – 173
Chapter 9 Pluribus Unum—Out of Many Become One: Live as Part of a Community – 189
Epilogue Beyond This Place There Be Dragons – 205
Acknowledgments – 207
Notes – 209
Index – 215
A superb and imaginative distillation of the essence of mindfulness made available to children, parents, and teachers in age-appropriate, wise, and playful ways. Sets a high bar for further work in the rapidly growing field of mindfulness in K-12 education.” —Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine emeritus, UMass Medical School and author of Letting Everything Become Your Teacher andWherever You Go, There You Are
“One of the best books on mindfulness for kids that I have read. Practical and accessible. You can feel Susan’s years of experience and dedication.” —Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart and The Wise Heart
“Parents often ask me for advice about being mindful with their children. From here on out, I will refer them to this tremendously helpful book, filled with clear insights about children and how to teach them gently and skillfully. A truly inspiring book.” —Sharon Salzburg
“Susan Kaiser Greenland is the real thing. She is not just teaching young children how to focus their attention more effectively, the secret to how to control their own brains; she is teaching children how to become wise, way before most kids generally understand the value of wisdom. This is a most important book; any parent who cares about raising good, morally responsible children must read it.”
—Jeffrey Schwartz, author The Mind and the Brain (with Sharon Begley)
“The Mindful Child is a masterful work of art that weaves the wisdom of ancient contemplative practices with the insights of contemporary neuroscience within captivating stories of the author’s journey to bring mindfulness to young people and their teachers. Susan Kaiser Greenland has created unique and effective everyday practices that can be used by educators and parents alike to provide enjoyable experiences for children and teens that cultivate resourcefulness, focus, and resilience. Readers will be captivated by the inspiring examples from real life experiences that stimulate the imagination and inspire us to awaken our lives to the power of mindfulness as a health-promoting, stress-reducing, and compassion-generating way of being. What more are we waiting for?” —Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., Co-Director, UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, Executive Director, Mindsight Institute, and author of Mindsight and The Mindful Brain
“There are all sorts of great books about helping children by improving parenting skills and communications—things outside the child’s skin. The Mindful Child is a different kind of book! Readers will envision themselves being more effective with children rather than working with them. Susan Kaiser Greenland emphasizes directly changing the inside rather than encouraging the inside change from all that seeps in from the outside. This unique author delves into the heart of developing character, and coping skills that enable children to resolutely and effectively handle difficult situations through a more relaxed self- awareness.” —Foster Cline, author of Parenting with Love and Logic
“What a wonderful and timely antidote to the hyperactive culture that makes kids super-wired but too disconnected from themselves and others. Every parent should read The Mindful Child for practical strategies to teach boys and girls how to manage stress and pay attention to what really matters.” — David Walsh, Ph.D., author of Why Do They Act That Way? A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen and No. Why Kids-of All Ages-Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It
“Greenland excels in teaching these concepts [of mindful awareness] to children of all ages, providing activities and metaphors that both nicely illustrate the goals and make them accessible and fun. It is easy to see this being used for children with attention problems or those suffering illness.” —Library Journal
“This useful manual will help parents and their children practice mindfulness together, whether they’re seated at the dinner table or on meditation cushions.” —Yoga Journal