Children are like sponges; they absorb everything that surrounds them, good and bad. This means that if you want to raise mindful children, it’s up to you to introduce them to the world of mindfulness, even at an early age.
In today’s world of fast-paced activity, it can be hard to find time to simply focus on being mindful. Instead of rushing from one thing to another we could try and slow down our pace a little and spend more time in nature. A great way to connect with nature is through mindfulness exercises for children that help you appreciate nature in a different way.
Luckily, there are plenty of mindfulness exercises you can do with your children that will help them not only be more present but also gain valuable life skills. If you’re looking to teach mindfulness to your child, but aren’t quite sure where to start, here are 10 mindfulness activities you can do together that will support and encourage mindfulness.
Why Teach Mindfulness to Kids?
More than ever, children and teenagers are being exposed to a steady diet of distraction. Whether it’s social media or video games, there is always something in their immediate line of sight that competes for their attention. This competition makes focusing and staying present difficult, especially during school hours.
Introducing and teaching mindfulness to kids can be a great first step in helping them stay focused and perform better at school.
How do You Practice Mindfulness Meditation in Children?
As mindfulness activities for kids become more and more popular, parents are looking for a way to integrate them into their children’s lives. But how do you actually practice kids’ mindfulness? For adults, we tend to think of meditating as one of those mindful activities; but what about kids?
Here are ten mindfulness activities that any parent can incorporate into his or her child’s life to create a peaceful mind and stress-free lifestyle.
1) Meditate with a friend- Self Regulation
Meditation isn’t just about being still—it’s also about being aware of what’s going on in your mind. To help young people cultivate that awareness, try engaging them in guided mindfulness meditation. Here are five options to practice mindfulness with a friend;
1) Sit down and meditate together;
2) Take turns meditating while listening to soft music;
3) Do a short mindful activity such as walking in silence;
4) Take turns journaling while listening to music;
5) Do anything creative (drawing, painting, collage making).
At retreats across America, kids are learning how to be mindful by practicing social-emotional skills like empathy and emotional intelligence. A lot of mindfulness exercises center around similar principles:
- taking time out to do something they enjoy with someone they care about;
- choosing what they will eat or wear carefully in order to send a positive message through body language;
- deciding how they can act more kindfully towards others when feeling frustrated or upset.
Kids take active steps to notice their emotions and think before responding emotionally.
We need schools that teach emotion regulation skills at every grade level! We need teachers who have been trained in methods that teach students skills for self-regulation so we can build an educational system where learning is not derailed by negative social interactions but enhanced by positive ones. By practicing mindfulness every day, you will be able to develop this valuable skill.
2) Write about your day
Kids tend to rush through their day, but they can take a more mindful approach by practicing mindfulness activities every day. They’ll learn how to appreciate each moment as it comes, while learning great life skills like focus and patience.
Whether you are a parent looking for ways to teach your child how to slow down or an educator interested in learning how to teach children how to be still, ask them to describe their daily routines. What do they do? Where do they go? How does it make them feel? Do any patterns emerge? These discussions will help you identify opportunities for starting conversations about mindfulness and reflection with your kids.
After all, just slowing down is often not enough—that frantic state of mind needs to be replaced with something else, too! And why should adults have all of the fun?! If we want our kids to live healthier lives (and we definitely should), then we need to include them on that journey!
3) Create a Mindful Space & Ask Questions
Another great way to start practicing mindfulness with your kids is by creating a “mindful space”. It’s important to make sure they feel comfortable and safe—think of a place where your children can relax and be themselves.
Feel free to use candles, incense, images, or statues that inspire them. Think about what might resonate most with your child.
Here are some questions you could ask them:
How to create the best impact by being mindful?
What quality of mind do I want to develop?
What do I need to take better care of myself and my family?
During difficult moments, how might I be more compassionate to myself and others?
How might I feel more connected and fulfilled?
Remember, being mindful means thinking long-term.
There’s no right answer here; everyone has different needs when it comes to meditation, so don’t worry if they are all over the map at first.
4) Create mindful to-do lists
If you think back to when you were a kid, chances are you remember making checklists and crossing off tasks as they were completed. Maybe it’s time your kids got some mindfulness training of their own by creating something similar!
5) Read a book mindfully
Pick up a fun book (no textbooks!) and read it mindfully. Try to slow down and feel each word as you are reading. When you’re done, write down one thought or feeling that you got from reading that book. Not only will you have some great ideas for future books to read, but you’ll also enjoy your reading more!
You can even make time during school—have students write an essay while they’re listening to a lecture rather than daydreaming! Just try taking notes with pen and paper instead of typing on your laptop. You might find yourself actually retaining information.
6) Use positive words
Fun happiness and enjoyable! Use words that portray feelings in a positive way. Words like these will trigger positive emotions in your children, making them more likely to keep reading. The same goes for your images.
Find photos with happy people having a good time. Or at least make sure they’re smiling! You can find lots of stock photos online if you just type happy people into Google Images. Ask your kids to describe those pictures mindfully.
Describing emotions-Mindful Activity for Children
One way to create a space of mindfulness is by describing emotions.
You can use the concept of “visiting” your feelings to connect mindfulness and emotions. Children and teenagers can sense, explore and befriend all their feelings in an accepting empathetic way.
Neither good nor bad, neither acceptable nor unacceptable, feelings just feelings. They’re just “felt sensations” experienced in the present.
Rather than suppressing or undoing feelings, encourage children to utilize their senses in exploring their feelings and even conversing with them.
Emotional intelligence involves understanding how feelings may manifest in the body, as conveyed through common expressions such as “a pit in the stomach” or “a lump in the throat”.
As a result, children and teenagers are able to deal with any negative emotions in a calm manner. In addition, it aids them in becoming mindfully aware of their bodies as rich kaleidoscopes of information.
They can develop their emotional intelligence by cultivating their senses by learning to explore the range of emotions they encounter within themselves throughout the day.
You can also help kids identify emotions in themselves and others through play or observation.
For example, If you are upset when someone else doesn’t share their toys with you during free playtime, say something like: It looks like he feels sad when you take his toy away from him.
7) Do yoga with your Children
How many times do you find yourself running from one place to another, trying to get everything done at once?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you may want to add yoga to your family’s routine—you can even start with your children, who are more than ready to get in on the action and reap the benefits of this mindful exercise.
Start small by incorporating one mindful activity into your daily schedule, and before long you’ll be getting much more done and enjoying life much more!
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is a set of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on objects such as divinity, self-consciousness, devotion to others, and one’s culture.
Breathing Techniques in Yoga
Breathing is important in any type of exercise, but it’s particularly essential to Yoga. As a stress reliever and an exercise, Yoga places particular importance on breathing techniques.
If you want to teach your child how to become more mindful, breathing exercises are a great place to start. Here are some specific ways that your child can learn different types of breathing techniques:
The Breath of Fire-Mindfulness Exercises:
This technique is similar to panting, which means that it will make kids breathe quickly. It’s also known as bellows breath since it mimics what blacksmiths used to do before modern tools were invented.
To do bellows breath, simply inhale through your nose, then exhale rapidly through both your nose and mouth. Continue doing so until you feel calm.
Alternate Nostril Breathing:
Alternate nostril breathing starts with a deep inhalation through one nostril. Then, without exhaling fully from that nostril, breathe out of another nostril. Inhale again—through whichever nostril feels comfortable—and repeat for about five minutes at a time (and up to two times per day).
Benefits of yoga for kids
Yoga is not only a way to maintain a healthy body and mind, but it’s also an excellent way to begin establishing life-long exercise habits.
By incorporating yoga into your child’s daily routine, you can provide him or her with healthy food options, stress management techniques and even help strengthen their bodies against illness. Kids can also reap many of these benefits from participating in regular yoga activities.
Yoga for kids helps them establish self-awareness, meditation skills, and calmness in their thoughts and actions.
Mindfulness activities like yoga are proven to help kids with ADHD, OCD, and anxiety
There are plenty of reasons to get your child into yoga. It’s not just about flexibility and balance—yoga is a great way to build self-awareness and self-control, which is valuable at any age. And that’s a good thing because it turns out that being in control of one’s mental and physical state also helps one take better control of their health.
Self-Awareness simply means understanding yourself and your thoughts, feelings, desires, and intentions. We develop Self Awareness through meditation by watching our bodies when we sit still or doing Yoga postures with awareness of how our body feels or changes when we hold different poses for longer periods of time.
Exercises that Improve Flexibility in Children
Yoga is a well-known mindful exercise that not only improves flexibility in children but teaches them how to focus their minds and practice patience. Exercises your kids can do at home that will help their flexibility improve.
Don’t feel pressured to rush through these movements; they should be approached slowly and patiently while working mindfully on breathing throughout each pose. You’ll want to allow 30 seconds of rest between each pose so that they have time to relax after holding one position too long.
Allowing proper resting periods also prevent injuries from occurring. Parents may choose to do some exercises together with their child, although it isn’t required.
Stretching exercises as part of yoga
Yoga is an excellent workout for children. Not only does it improve flexibility, but it also improves balance and coordination. Children as young as three years old can begin to participate in yoga classes with a parent or other caregiver, while older children and teens can practice yoga on their own.
Yoga stretches help relieve stress and promote relaxation by clearing your mind of worries; however, you should never force your child to do poses that he finds difficult.
Make stretching fun by incorporating music and laughter into your routine, which will make stretching more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Not only is this beneficial for your health and theirs, but practicing together as a family is another type of family bonding experience. And who knows? Your kids might just end up loving it!
If you want your kids to be happy, healthy, and achieve all their potential, get them into Yoga today!
8) Count your breaths while eating-Mindful Breathing
Make a conscious effort to focus on breathing in and out while eating your meals. Take three deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth, and repeat as necessary until you’ve finished.
If you’re having trouble focusing on nothing but a deep breath, try counting or repeating a simple mantra. For example: one-two-three in through my nose, one-two-three out through my mouth or I am grateful for… during each breath out.
The key is mindfulness—the ability to focus all of your attention on something without judgment or distraction. During mindful exercises, practice focusing solely on your breathing without letting your mind wander to other thoughts (e.g., about tomorrow’s homework assignment).
The next time you are presented with a snack—whether it’s carrots at dinner time or birthday cake at a party—focus first on inhaling deeply and exhaling completely before taking that first bite, making sure not to take more than what is needed.
9) Unplug from electronics
One of my favorite mindful activities is to go on a hike and unplug from technology. While many children today have never experienced life without electronics, it’s important to teach kids that there’s so much more out there than video games, apps, and texting.
Experiencing nature at its finest is an amazing way to tune into your senses and really appreciate what you have around you. Unplugging can help children find peace, joy, and happiness in ways they never imagined before.
Parents should try unplugging with their children and take them on a nature walk or vacation; it’s one of those mindful exercises that will stick with them forever.
10) Plant flowers with Children
More than just a pretty addition to your home, flowers are great for mindfulness activities because they invite you to slow down and pay attention. Your garden can be a wonderful addition to your personal mindfulness practice.
Even if you don’t know much about gardening, there are plenty of options that require little maintenance and offer an excellent outlet for stress relief. Consider planting some fragrant herbs in pots on your deck or patio, like lavender or mint; both have calming effects.
If you have children with sensory needs at home, invest in potted plants they can help grow themselves: succulents and cacti are especially low-maintenance and good choices. Finally, even if you live in an apartment without any outdoor space, there are still ways to incorporate nature into your life.
Small containers will allow you to grow miniature versions of certain plants inside—rosemary is especially easy! All it takes is a few minutes each day watching your plant slowly change and cultivate.