Mindfulness with Children – 5 activities you can practice with your children
Mindfulness with children is a great way of supporting parents and/or carers in bringing up calmer, confident, stronger, peaceful and happier children!
Not just, scientific studies show that mindfulness helps children develop concentration, attention, executive function, emotional balance, social behaviour, compassion and promotes mental wellbeing. Mindfulness is one way to help tackle anxiety, stress and depression. For more about research evidence, go here.
We can bring in mindfulness with children in any, or let’s say most of our daily activities. And, as you might already know children learn best when they are having fun. So, we also need to make mindfulness with children a fun activity, at least most of the times.
In this blog article, I share 6 mindful activities that we can all practice with our children:
1. Focus attention on the breathe
The best way to become mindful is to notice the breathing. Focusing attention to the breathe. A simple way to do it with a children, is to ask them to put their hand in front of their mouth. Ask them to breathe in through the nose, breathe out through their mouth. Whilst breathing out through the mouth, notice the sensation of the air coming out on the hand. After a few breathes, ask them is the air hot, cold, neutral?
2. Belly Breathing
Again the focus is paying attention to the breath. This time, the focus of attention is the movement of the breath through the belly.
So, what we do is to ask the child, to imagine that the belly is a balloon. Ask, the child to put both hands on their belly during the exercise.
On the inhale, from the nose, the child is blowing the balloon and the balloon is expanding. On the exhale, from the mouth, the child’s hand let goes of the balloon, thus the balloon’s air rushes out and deflates. With the out breath, the child should feel their hands pushing back towards the spine.
With this simple exercise, children are learning relaxation skills that they can use anytime, anywhere. They are also becoming more aware of the breath and how it effects the body.
3. Glitter Jar
Glitter jars are a helpful mindfulness tool to help children relax and calm down. Watching the glitter jar swirl to the bottom allows a child some time to calm down and regain emotional control after feeling stressed out. This is why we also refer to glitter jars as ‘calm down’ jars.
You can make the glitter jar at home. For instructions, please watch my daughter and myself making one at home.
Once you have the glitter jar, teach your child how to use it. When they feel emotions like anger, frustration, irritability, upset, guide them to take the glitter jar and shake it for a moment. When they stop shaking it, invite them to gaze at the swirling glitter in the jar, breathing deeply in and out whilst watching the glitter settle at the bottom of the jar.
Then, ask your child to notice the calm feeling in their body as they notice the jar and breathe deeply. Ask, them to notice their heart beating, the sensations of their body. As the glitter settles, usually the thoughts and emotions do too.
4. Mindfulness with Children through blowing bubbles
Children love blowing bubbles! Its lots of fun! Blowing bubbles is a great mindfulness activity for children. It gets them out of their head, so it is particular beneficial when they are worrying or have anxious thoughts.
Simply, have your child breathe in deeply, then exhale into the bubble wand so they can make the biggest bubble possible or as many bubbles as possible. Whilst blowing the bubbles out, invite them to see all their thoughts or worries being blown far away with the bubbles. When the bubbles pop and vanish, their anxious thoughts / worries vanish too.
This is a fun calm down activity that can shift children’s emotion rather quickly as they focus their attention on the bubble rather than what is stressing them.
5.Teddy Bear Breathing
This is a great wind-down mindfulness with children activity. So it can also be a bed time activity to help your child relax and fall to sleep.
Ask your child to use their favourite teddy bear or doll. Sometimes, it can also be your child’s favourite car.
Lying down, ask them to put their favourite teddy on their belly and put their hands on the teddy. Guide them to breathe in from their nose. As they breathe in, ask them to notice their tummy rising with the teddy. When you guide them to breathe out from their mouth, ask them to notice their tummy going down back to their spine together with the teddy.
Ask them how they feel with the sensation of the teddy going up and down on their tummy during the breathing in and out? They will notice, that they feel more relaxed and calm.
If it is bedtime, they can hug and sleep with the favourite teddy.
Watch this teddy bear breathing exercise.
Mindfulness with Children as a way of life
The earlier you bring mindfulness in your child’s life, the more equipped he or she will be to remain calm and resilient during stressful periods.
As you can see, there are many simple activities that can help us practice mindfulness with children in any situation and with different aids. See what works most for your child. Of course, you can also adapt the exercise to your child’s delight.
I would love to hear from you. I would love to hear which activity have you chosen to start practising mindfulness with your children. It makes me happy.
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