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Sewing: An Effective, Easy Exercise in Mindfulness for Kids

A guest blog by Neve
Have you ever found that sitting down with your sewing basket to work on a project helps take your mood from bad to good? Maybe you've noticed that it helps to clear your thoughts and keep you focused on what you're doing, naturally making you feel calm.
This is because hands-on crafts like sewing are mindful activities. They require us to be present in and accepting of the moment, an act which can reduce our anxiety, depression, and stress over time. Mindfulness is often recommended by therapists and other mental health professionals as a way to deal with day-to-day stress and negative feelings.
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Kids, Mindfulness, and Sewing

 

Being mindful isn't simply a way adults can cope with stress, it's a mental health tool that's equally effective for children. In fact, kids may have more luck using mindfulness as a coping tool throughout their lives if they master it while they're young, when their neuroplasticity is at its peak.

Though adults may find satisfaction and peace in devoting time to meditation, kids may find mindfulness more easily through meditative activities like sewing. It's easier to avoid that sense of "boredom" when they have something to focus on, and simply being focused on what they're doing is enough to achieve mindfulness.

In fact, sewing is one of the easiest and most effective ways for children to learn to be mindful. Their hands and mind both remain occupied by their project, so it's harder for distractions to get through to them, and multi-tasking is virtually impossible.

Here are five reasons I recommend sewing as a mindfulness teaching tool for children:

  • 1. It's a good calm-down activity: Frustration, anger, disappointment, and sadness are all natural parts of life which can feel especially pronounced during childhood, when kids are still learning to regulate their emotions. As an activity that occupies both the hands and the mind, retreating to a calm-down corner to work on a sewing project can help kids to process and eventually discuss and resolve negative feelings through mindfulness. Mindfulness training in children is linked to the potential for improved emotional regulation.

 

  • 2. It's very simple to pick up: As far as crafting activities go, standard hand sewing is quite simple, meaning that even younger children can generally grasp the concept and execute the basics without too much trouble. This means that there is a low barrier to entry, and children are likely to feel good about their success rather than frustrated by their inability. While most kinds of hands-on crafting have the potential to be mindful activities, few are as easy and inexpensive to begin as sewing.

  • 3. It's good for their self-esteem: When children learn a new skill or hobby, especially one which they can use to create something new, they reap self esteem boosts for two reasons. First, they have a chance to see through their own creation from start to finish, taking pride in both their inspiration and their finished product. Second, over time, they can observe improvements to their skill and feel good about the things they've learned.

 

  • 4. It encourages the use of planning and mathematics: As far as teaching tools go, sewing runs the gamut -- it contributes to their emotional toolkit, but also their cognitive abilities. As super-mom and super-seamstress Natalie Grant of The Crafty Needle remarks, "Once kids have gotten past the basic stitches and move on to creating projects, they'll be using their critical thinking skills to either follow a pattern or lay a project out on their own. Often, this requires the use of math skills, encouraging them to flex those mental muscles during their mindful crafting."

 

  • 5. It's an important practical skill: Beyond all the important bonus traits kids pick up while learning to sew, the ability itself will come in handy more often than not. A dropped button, burst seam, or skipped stitch is no worry if you know how to fix it, and kids who learn to sew while they're young will be confidently mending their own clothes rather than dropping them on your doorstep to be fixed.

 

Teaching your kids to sew can be a fantastic bonding experience, and you can even work on simple, sweet projects together -- think pillows and small stuffed toys --- that they can enjoy and be proud of. Not a master seamstress? That's okay! There are tons of tutorials online that will get you started right alongside your littles.

Happy (and mindful) stitching!