To teach kids how to relax with mindfulness, you must first learn how to relax with Mindfulness yourself. If you’re unable to keep your own mind clear and calm, it will be difficult to teach your kids how to do so.
At today’s pace, it can be difficult to balance work, family, and social obligations, but it’s even more challenging to teach kids how to relax with mindfulness.
Fortunately, there are several different methods you can use to help your child learn how to relax with mindfulness in school or at home. Here are 8 tips on teaching kids how to relax with mindfulness in the classroom or at home.
1) Teach Them How to Label Their Feelings
Helping kids label their feelings teaches them how to take an inventory of what they’re feeling and manage their emotions accordingly. Ask them, “What are they grateful for?.” This question will prompt some reflection on past events.
Focusing on what they’re grateful for encourages young children to focus on what’s positive in their lives instead of fixating on negative circumstances.
Once your child knows how they feel, encourage self-calming activities such as taking deep breaths, rocking in a chair, or doing jumping jacks. The more comfortable children are labeling their feelings, the easier it will be for them to manage stress and negative emotions.
2) Practice Mindfulness Exercises
When we think of mindfulness, it’s easy to associate it with sitting still in a quiet place. But there are many different types of mindfulness exercises.
For example, you can practice eating mindfully and even try walking mindfully. The benefits of these activities can range from helping you relax after a stressful day at work to boosting your immune system.
In fact, practicing mindfulness is so powerful that some companies are now training their employees how to do it during their lunch breaks or even offer on-site meditation classes as part of a company perk package.
Remember: stress is contagious and if everyone in your family practices taking regular timeouts from their hectic schedules, you’ll all be happier and healthier! Here are 3 mindful exercises to practice with your kids.
Take a Nap and Healthy Snack
When it comes to how to teach mindfulness to kids, one of the most important things you can do as a parent is set an example. This means not just napping as a way of relaxing after a busy day at work—but making sure your children see that you enjoy some downtime every day.
And since kids often don’t have time in their schedules for much-needed me time, make sure they get some rest and relaxation during mealtimes by practicing nap time snacking (or mindful eating) together. Simply turn off all phones and electronics, eat slowly and savor each bite!
Take a Breathing Break
Most people would benefit from regular meditation sessions throughout their day but many aren’t aware of practical ways to incorporate it into their lives. If your child has trouble unwinding at night or during homework time, setting up breathing breaks might be just what he needs. You can tell him that if his mind starts wandering—which is natural and happens to everyone—he should try counting his breaths.
Go Outside and Play!
One simple way of practicing mindfulness is going outside and enjoying nature together as a family. Whether you take a walk, go camping, or simply sit on a park bench together, let your kids know how much you enjoy spending quality time outside with them!
It could mean an entire weekend trip as well as quick after-school activities like catching fireflies or watching squirrels play in nearby trees.
Even something as simple as staring up at falling snowflakes could become an opportunity for peaceful contemplation in your household.
3) Encourage Activities Outside Of Screens
Studies have shown that children who spend too much time in front of a screen—watching TV, playing video games, or texting on their phones—have a higher risk of health problems than those who are more active and enjoy outdoor activities.
Try encouraging your child to spend more time outside, doing physical activities like running around or going for a bike ride. The outdoors can provide plenty of opportunities for exploration, discovery, and exercise.
Not only that but there’s a good chance they’ll be back in front of screens when they get home! Taking them away from their devices will help both you and they take a break from screen time—and learn how to relax with mindfulness.
Here are some other ways you can encourage outdoor activity:
Give them their own tricycle or bicycle so they can go for rides on their own—and perhaps meet friends along the way!
If you live in a warmer climate, set up an outdoor room where your child can read and play games outside.
Here’s a fun activity that brings together screen time and outdoor time: when it gets dark, turn off all of your electronics and do something outside as a family. Perhaps build a campfire.
Talk about things that happen in nature, such as trees changing colors in autumn or birds building nests during springtime.
Show them how to be present with what is happening right now by using mindfulness techniques such as mindful breathing or walking meditation.
4) Model Positive Attitudes
When you want kids to learn mindfulness, it’s important that they see you practicing as well. Modeling positive attitudes and behaviors is critical, especially since kids are keen observers of others.
Even if your kids aren’t old enough to actually follow your lead, seeing how you respond to stress will likely have an impact on their own ability to handle things when things go awry.
Kids look at adults and emulate them in a big way. Our thoughts become more healthy or unhealthy based on what we see in others. If you show mindfulness and positivity, your kids will likely mimic those actions. They’ll be less stressed because they have an example of how to respond appropriately.
As parents, we are setting an example whether we want to or not (and believe me, there will be moments when you don’t want to). Don’t be surprised if your kids follow along with mindfulness practices just by watching how you act during high-stress moments like these!
5) Help Kids Practice Mindful Breathing
Breathing mindfully is about being fully present and aware of our bodies, thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. It can be easy to lose ourselves in our thoughts and feelings or spend time dwelling on what’s wrong.
Practicing mindful breathing can help us focus on what’s right. At its most basic level, mindful breathing simply involves putting your attention on your breath as it goes in and out of your body. This simple practice can help you relax when you’re feeling anxious or frustrated—it doesn’t require any training or expensive tools; just a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed.
The more we practice, however, the easier it becomes to notice our thoughts without reacting to them. As we begin to break down those barriers between thought and awareness, we can develop a sense of ease around negative emotions and stressful situations.
Here are a few tips for teaching kids how to relax using mindfulness:
Allow Your Child Time to Be Still:
Children live fast-paced lives full of activities ranging from schoolwork to sports. They also deal with stressors outside of school such as social dynamics that may come with being part of a large group or clique at school.
As children grow older and become more independent, they may want less supervision than before. But it’s important to make sure they have time each day where they can tune out their surroundings and be still. Try scheduling unplugged time in your schedule as you might set aside reading time or playtime every day.
You can also help kids focus on something different by teaching them mindful breathing—it helps them take control over their breathing so they can relax when needed, especially during stressful situations. The trick is helping kids understand that becoming still isn’t about allowing themselves to get overwhelmed by emotions; it is about learning how to use mindfulness techniques to manage these emotions when necessary.
6) Encourage Them To Be In The Present Moment
Our senses are usually occupied by something other than what’s happening in our current moment. We’re typically either working on tasks, thinking about things we need to do later or even thinking about something that happened in our past.
All of these things distract us from being aware of what is actually happening right now and, in turn, make it difficult to relax.
To teach kids how to relax with mindfulness, encourage them first to be aware of their body and surroundings. Teach them how their bodies feel when they’re relaxed versus tense and have them practice some yoga or meditate before bedtime. Yoga is a great exercise because it helps your body become more present in each moment.
Yoga can also help kids calm down quickly if they start getting worked up about something.
Next time your child has a rough day at school, teach him how to sit still, listen carefully to his breathing, and focus on one thing without being distracted by any other thoughts that pop into his head.
Teach him that he doesn’t have to chase after every thought; rather than letting our minds wander aimlessly from idea to idea we can learn ways to quiet them instead. This will allow him not only to unwind but also get better sleep at night too!
7) Self Regulation Mindfulness Training to Kids
Without a doubt, self-regulation is one of the most important things kids will learn during their first few years of life. Children that have been taught how to regulate their emotions and control their impulses are more likely to become better problem solvers, relationship builders and all-around happier people.
The same can be said about mindfulness practice, kids that engage in the regular mindful activity (like yoga or simple breathing exercises) will not only build up an increased sense of awareness, but they’ll also build greater self-control and an ability to stay focused on goals.
Self regulation + mindfulness = success! The combination of these two things is really powerful!
If you want your child to become a success in school, a champion of social justice, or just create a happier life for themselves, teaching them how to regulate their emotions and pay attention/be present are great places to start.
When we feel our emotions flood over us it’s important that we take time out of our day (even if it’s 5 minutes!) That way we can regain control over ourselves, slow down our racing thoughts and collect ourselves before facing whatever situation was making us feel out of control.
8) Incorporate Mindfulness Meditation
Incorporating mindfulness meditation into your children’s lives is one of the best ways to teach kids how to relax. It helps them slow down, let go of stressful thoughts and quiet their mind so they can focus on positive thoughts and feelings.
As an added bonus, when we teach our kids how to meditate, we make sure they have a tool that will help them relieve stress and negative emotions when needed most.
One way you can incorporate mindfulness meditation into your child’s life is by introducing it at bedtime every night before lights out. After your children brush their teeth, read a book, and say their prayers (if they practice religion), you can have them do a short guided mindful meditation session to help them relax and fall asleep faster.
Another great time to introduce kids to meditation is during stressful situations that are difficult for them. For example, if older child needs some calming techniques when taking standardized tests, they could benefit from practicing mindful breathing techniques.
Or perhaps a younger child will benefit from being introduced to mindful breathing when trying new foods or eating healthy meals that are different than what they normally eat because they will be more open-minded and receptive than they would be otherwise.
5 Easy Mindfulness Activities For Children
Sometimes, finding relaxation activities that children will actually enjoy and can take part in is a difficult task. That’s why it’s important to know what types of relaxation activities are out there. Below are 5 different mindfulness activities that kids can participate in on their own or with their parents!
From yoga poses to guided imagery exercises and even some fun sensory games, here are simple ways to help your child relax. Give them a try today: they just might surprise you at how well they work!
1. A 2-Minute Breathing Exercise:
This simple breathing exercise is useful both when teaching kids how to relax as well as when trying to calm down oneself. All you’ll need is two minutes, and a place that’s quiet where you won’t be disturbed! Sit or lie in a comfortable position, and close your eyes.
Breathe deeply in through your nose, and then out through your mouth. If thoughts come into your mind, don’t worry about them; simply return to focusing on your breath. After 10 seconds of exhaling, pause for five seconds before inhaling again. Do these short pauses until you reach two minutes total. Once you complete it, try doing it for longer next time. Your child might also enjoy setting an alarm to help them stay focused on their breathing.
2. A 7-Minute Yoga Pose:
Yoga isn’t just great at increasing flexibility; research has also shown it can have a calming effect during stressful periods. You can use yoga poses not only to teach kids how to relax but also yourself (and even family members!) too! Here is one example of an easy, relaxing pose that requires no equipment or experience; you can do it anywhere and anytime! First, sit in a comfortable position—either cross-legged on a cushion or chair, or on your knees on any surface where you won’t be uncomfortable. Then, lay your hands in your lap palms up, and close your eyes.
Deeply inhale through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Once you feel relaxed enough, begin to raise your hands above your head; when they reach their peak, turn them so that they are facing away from each other. Slowly lower them back down into your lap. Repeat several times before taking some deep breaths again and sitting in stillness until you feel fully relaxed again!
3. A 20-Minute Guided Imagery Exercise:
If you want something deeper than simple breathing exercises to help teach kids how to relax, using guided imagery may be right for you. When using guided imagery exercises, there will usually be a person who guides listeners along as well as audio material that plays throughout to help listeners stay focused. Guided imagery helps us enter our own inner world—an important skill for anyone seeking stress relief and peace of mind! There are many different kinds of guided imagery out there; here is one example:
Close your eyes, take some deep breaths in through your nose, and then out through your mouth. As you breathe in, imagine all tension leaving your body with each exhale. Feel yourself relaxing more and more every second you continue doing so. Imagine yourself at a place where you feel safe and secure; it could be somewhere from childhood or even somewhere fantasy-like like another planet! Imagine everything about it: what does it look like? What do you smell? What sounds can you hear? Continue until 20 minutes have passed.
4. A 10-Minute Breathing Meditation:
This meditation is great because you don’t need any background noise or anything specific to complete it. All you need is 10 minutes and an open space where you won’t be disturbed! First, sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Take several calming breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you breathe, feel all tension leaving your body. Let yourself relax more and more every second that passes by until—you guessed it—you reach ten minutes total!
5. A 20-Minute Yoga Session:
While guided imagery can take us deep into our minds, yoga is another way we can slow down our thoughts enough to reach serenity. You can use yoga poses not only to teach kids how to relax but also yourself (and even family members!) too!
How Do You Explain Mindfulness to Kids?
Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. -Jon Kabat-Zinn, (author of Full Catastrophe Living.)
If you’re looking to teach mindfulness to kids, it’s important to explain what it is first; sometimes adults even need a little help understanding it themselves! You can introduce mindfulness to kids in many ways. Here are just a few of our favorites:
Try explaining why they should learn relaxation techniques (maybe because people are always telling them that they don’t look relaxed).
By explaining that taking time out each day will be good for their health and mental well-being. Introduce mindfulness through visualizations (pretend they are watching a river flow).
Have them participate in activities (like yoga) where they are actively being mindful.
Cultivate hobbies that encourage mindfulness (such as reading quietly).
By explaining what mindfulness is and how it can benefit them, you can make it more of a priority for kids.
How Do You Teach Youth Mindfulness?
There are many ways you can introduce mindfulness practice into your life, but teaching it to others can be more challenging. It’s helpful to follow a few simple steps in order to guide a young person through practicing mindfulness at school or at home.
First, take some time to make sure that everyone—teachers and parents alike—is on board with introducing mindfulness techniques and practices as part of a daily routine.
Next, consider using one or two small exercises each day before transitioning back into activities like classwork or sports.
Here are eight great exercises for getting started:
(1) eating mindfully;
(2) reaching out;
(3) paying attention;
(4) breathing deeply;
(5) being aware of sound;
(6) noticing thoughts/feelings/emotions as they arise;
(7) smiling/laughing consciously, and finally,
Remember that introducing these exercises into your daily routine will help kids and teens, and yourself, better cope with stress and reduce emotional reactivity, among other benefits. Try adding one or two of these exercises into your routine today!
How Can I Meditate With My Kids?
One way to teach mindfulness to your kids is through meditation. Meditation is one of those things that looks easier than it actually is, so before you start attempting it, make sure you know how and why.
Doing so will help you teach your children how important meditation really is. Remember, when it comes to teaching your kids about meditation in a fun and interesting way, there’s no time like now!
They’re young, they have minds ready to explore new ideas; now’s not a bad time for them to take up something as powerful as meditation.
Will Meditation Help My Child Sleep?
Research suggests that mindfulness and meditation might help kids regulate their emotions. If your child has a hard time sleeping, talk to your pediatrician or health care provider about what you can do at home; in addition to helping your child get a good night’s rest, meditation might also help alleviate stress and allow your child to relax more effectively.
Sleep stories help calm your child before bedtime, easing any anxiety that may be creeping in. Reading a story (often called an emotion story) not only helps younger children visualize their emotions but also has been shown to ease anxiety and reduce reliance on comfort objects (like blankets).
Parents should practice mindfulness themselves before reading a sleep story as research shows it increases empathy and helps you really hear what your child is saying.
All kids love hearing familiar narratives in new ways—think of all those times you read “The Three Little Pigs” but never realized they could teach mindfulness!
What Are The 5 Basics of Mindfulness Practice?
Always start off by noticing your breathing. Is it slow and deep? Then, count your breaths for a moment—don’t think about anything else, just count. This trains your brain to focus on one thing at a time. It also clears away distractions that cause stress and anxiety.
Then, feel what’s going on in your body, notice how you’re feeling emotionally (anxious or calm). You can do all of these things while standing or sitting, as long as you can breathe!
Lastly, take note of any other thoughts or emotions that come up; when you are being mindful, accept thoughts and feelings without judgment, without fighting them. Let them pass like clouds passing through your mind’s sky.
Will Meditation Help With Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. There are many causes of anxiety. Many people have occasional anxious feelings but suffer no long-term consequences. Others suffer from anxiety on a regular basis and may need medication to control it. Meditation helps us confront our problems head-on. It does not remove us from life’s challenges; rather, it gives us tools to overcome them.
One of these tools is mindfulness. By teaching kids mindfulness meditation techniques when they are young, we equip them with lifelong skills that make it easier to face difficult situations when they arise in adulthood. The best way to teach kids how to meditate isn’t necessarily through formal instruction. It’s by setting a positive example, sharing our experiences, and creating a safe space for exploration.
Will Meditation Help My Child To Focus?
There are many benefits of meditation for kids; reducing stress, anxiety, and anger just to name a few.
But perhaps one of the greatest benefits is that it can help children learn how to focus, something that becomes increasingly important as children progress through school.
In today’s fast-paced and competitive world, our attention spans are shorter than ever before; according to research, they have reduced from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds today!
This means kids are having more difficulty staying focused and learning. On the other hand, kids who meditate are better able to focus in school, even years after their time practicing mindfulness.
It’s never too early or too late to learn how to relax. While it’s more important than ever to develop mindfulness habits and maintain them throughout our adult lives, it’s never too early or too late for children (or adults) to start practicing.
There are no excuses not to practice—you can practice at home, you can practice at work, you can even practice on your phone. Make relaxing a habit today! Mindfulness helps kids develop patience and emotional intelligence, so we should all be giving it a try.
It’s clear that kids today are dealing with a lot more stress and anxiety than in previous generations. And while there are lots of ways we can help them manage their stress, teaching them how to relax is an important aspect of staying happy and healthy over time.
Start slow, but start now—teaching kids how to relax can be a powerful tool in keeping everyone around you feeling better, too.
I hope these 8 tips have helped you better understand how to teach mindfulness to children of all ages; let us know in the comments if there’s anything else we missed!