As someone who has personally discovered the power of sewing as a calming and meditative solution to life’s woes, I was very excited when Neve offered to share her thoughts on how to use sewing to help kids practice mindfulness.
When we think about keeping our kids healthy, it’s often in the context of their physical wellness. We plan nutritious menus, encourage them to stay active, and quickly seek care for any illnesses or injuries that pop up. The ways we care for our children’s mental health are sometimes a bit more subtle: supportive chats about issues with friends or school, offering praise and affection, and encouraging habits and behaviors that are psychologically healthy.
Physical and mental well-being are equally important to whole-child health. Establishing mental health check-ins, being present and supportive, and trading excessive screen time for more mindful activities are all healthy habits which can easily become a part of your family routine.
The Importance of Mindfulness
Taking time to be mindful is key to good mental health in both children and adults. But in a fast-paced world that strives to distract, it’s not always easy. Children in particular may need to participate in activities that induce mindfulness.
Mndfulness refers to being focused on what’s happening in the present, fully experiencing what you are doing without distractions. Mindfulness can reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. It can help to regulate an agitated mood, and is often recommended as part of cognitive behavioral therapy.
Learning mindfulness has the potential to help kids improve their emotional self-regulation and ability to pay attention. These are both important for their social and personal development.
Achieving Mindfulness Through Sewing
Many people find that hands-on craft activities, like sewing, are the ideal way to achieve mindfulness. They require both mental and physical focus, clearing the mind of distraction. This opens the door for experiencing thoughts in a meditative way. Thoughts can come and go without fighting or dwelling on them.
Sewing is the easiest and most effective way for kids to practice mindfulness for a few reasons.
1. It’s easy to both teach and learn
Unlike some hands-on crafts that require specialized tools and knowledge, basic sewing is just that – basic. Most adults know how to sew at least a standard stitch. If you don’t, there are numerous written and video tutorials to help you get started. Even relatively young children should be able to handle it. Plastic mesh canvases with safe lacing needles are an extra-safe alternative for the youngest crafters.
2. It doesn’t need to be expensive
If you don’t already have a basic mending kit at home, it’ll only set you back a couple of dollars at your local discount store. There’s no need to invest in fancy fabrics for their projects; instead, raid your closets for old, ratty linens, shirts, or towels you don’t mind cutting up and donating to their scrap pile. The nearly non-existent cost means the outcome of their projects is low-stakes and they can practice as much as they need to.
3. It’s a practical life skill
Not only is sewing a mindful hobby, it’s also a productive one. Even the most basic mending skills will come in handy once they’re out on their own, and perhaps even before. The ability to patch a hole in your favorite shirt or sew a button back onto a dress just in time for a night out is one they won’t take for granted. If your young sewer happens to be particularly talented, they might discover a lifelong passion with the added benefit of being able to create their own clothes, housewares, and other fun projects.
4. It demands true focus
Hand-sewing a project may not be technically difficult, but it does require both physical and mental focus. Expert seamstress and mom Natalie Grant from The Crafty Needle explains, “As your child works on their project, they’ll be using their hands to manipulate the fabric, needle, and thread, while focusing their cognition on what to do next and how to execute the project. This instinctively drives away distractions, allowing them to achieve mindfulness.”
If it’s hard to get them to swap screens for crafts at first, don’t despair. Start with an easy, fun project like a pillow, and watch their self-esteem soar as they grasp the basics of this useful, mindful skill and make something they can actually use. A family sewing circle just might be your new norm!