Sewing: An Effective way to Promote Mindfulness in Children at Home
By: Neve Spicer
Getting through the pandemic hasn’t been an easy journey for anyone, but it’s been especially tough on kids. Young minds thrive on routine, and a scary disruption of their norm that keeps them isolated from friends and family can take a toll, leaving children feeling sad and anxious as parents search for healthy solutions.
One method of finding peace amid chaos, which therapists and mental health professionals recommend for any age, is mindfulness. This refers to being fully present in the moment, engaging with your chosen activity (or lack thereof), and accepting events and feelings as they come. Mindfulness is associated with reduced stress, anxiety, and depression, improved emotional regulation, and better focus.
Mindfulness in Childhood
Raised in a culture that encourages (and often demands) multitasking, you may find yourself struggling with mindfulness and wondering how to convey the lesson to your child. Though kids are prone to distraction, mindful and meditative hobbies tend to hold their focus, working as a grounding tool, essentially providing children a shortcut to the emotional relief that mindful practices offer.
Hands-on crafting hobbies are especially good for this, and a classic favorite that’s easy for kids to pick up is hand sewing. It’s not particularly complex, so most children are able to grasp the basics without a problem. Sewing in particular encourages mindfulness, in that it requires that eyes and hands remain focused on a project. An added benefit of sewing is that it imparts mastery of a useful skill.
It encourages the use of math skills
After kids master the basics of sewing, whether they’re following a pattern or planning a project all their own, they’ll be using basic math skills during their measuring and cutting, and critical thinking and planning abilities, all of which are important to cognitive and executive function development. In other words, it’s a hobby that lets them reap some of the same benefits they would in the classroom while still having fun.
It provides a way to emotionally decompress
As a mindful hobby, sewing provides kids with an escape from tough feelings — like sadness, disappointment, anxiety, depression, anger. The physical act of sewing can help children work out aggressive feelings constructively, while leaving their minds free to process what they’re feeling and return to a state of calm.
It’s good for their self-esteem
When kids first start sewing, they might not be terribly impressed by the outcome of their projects, but they’ll quickly realize that it’s not too tough to try and that they can improve if they put their minds to it. As an experienced mom and talented seamstress Natalie Grant of The Crafty Needle notes, “Any hands-on hobby that has tangible results gives kids something to be proud of, and it’s even more true if they can see the progression of their skill as they learn new stitches and try new projects.”
It’s a valuable life skill
From time to time, everyone finds themselves with a burst seam, lost button, or a split in their pants. When this happens, there are three options — head to the tailor, toss it in the trash can, or pull out your trusty needle and thread. The third is obviously the most economical of these options, but without the necessary skill, it’s not an option at all. Learning even the most basic stitches will enable your children to repair their own clothes, saving them (and you) money and time, and giving them a sense of autonomy.
If that’s not enough to love about sewing as a hobby for kids, there’s a good chance that you already have basic starter supplies on hand. A simple sewing kit used for mending will have a needle, thread, and perhaps even a pincushion to get them started. Consider using old sheets and t-shirts cut up into squares for practice, as they’re easy to sew.
Of course, if you’re not familiar with the basics yourself, it’s a great time to learn alongside the kids. There are tons of beginner-friendly tutorial videos online, so pull up a few chairs and study up on this economical, emotionally beneficial, family-friendly hobby. Acquiring new skills and exploring mindfulness through shared family time offers rewards on multiple levels. Try it!
About Neve: I’m Neve from Wetheparents, a veteran pre-school teacher, child development research nerd, and the mother of three wild kiddos! When I’m testing the limits of lack of sleep, I’m turning my kitchen into a craft cave or science lab!