During these unprecedented times, experts have been encouraging all of us to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a great tool to help you manage your thoughts, emotions and behaviors – not just for adults, but for kids as well. Teaching mindfulness to your kids at an early age can help them learn to deal with various stressors, both now and as they get older.
It can also encourage quietude, patience and sitting still – important lessons for all kids to learn (and which parents can enjoy!) Here are some mindfulness activities your kids can practice at home.
What is Mindfulness?
In mindfulness, we use all five senses to engage with the world around us. A task that is done with mindful awareness is done using 100 percent of your attention and energy, completely focused on the present moment.
With practice, we can learn to do any task with mindfulness. It becomes a very empowering activity for children to learn that they can be mindful, as they will learn to reduce their stress and anxiety, practice self-compassion, and use positive emotions. Not only will they learn to be kind with themselves, but they will also learn compassion and kindness and patience with others.
How Can Mindfulness Help Kids?
In the journal, Personality and Individual Differences, researchers found that mindfulness can help to lessen the effects of bullying in children. It can also enhance focus for kids with ADHD, reduce attention problems, improve mental health and overall wellbeing, and improve a child’s social skills.
Check our How to Create Perfect Conditions for Child’s Development? Learn the factors that affect your child's development, and how to create conditions to have a huge impact in their growth!
Mindfulness Activities for Kids
The following are some easy mindfulness activities that kids of any age can practice. (You might have to help out with some of them).
Create a Glitter Jar
Use an old jar and ask your child to decorate it in whatever manner they like. Fill three-quarters of the jar with water. Add glitter or food coloring to the water.
Put the lid on the jar and shake it up. Tell your child that anytime they feel stressed, upset or anxious, they should shake this glitter jar and remain still until the glitter settles.
They should think about how their thoughts are like the glitter. As the glitter settles towards the bottom of the jar, their thoughts will also settle and their mind will become calmer.
Have your child find a relaxing place to sit comfortably. Set a timer for one minute. Ask your child (or do it with them) to breathe in deeply through their nose and out through their mouth, paying attention to any feelings they feel or sounds they hear while doing so.
Have them take another deep breath and imagine it filling up their lungs, then as they release the breath, have them imagine the breath leaving their lungs. Finally, have them take one more deep breath, hold it for a moment, and release it.
Tense and Release Muscles
Ask your child to start at their feet and tense their muscles by gently squeezing them, then slowly releasing them. Then have them do the same with their calf muscles, and continue working their way up their body. As they tense and release muscles of their body, they will become relaxed.
Ask your child to stand up and jump up and down, or do jumping jacks, for one minute.
At the end of the minute, have your child place their hand on their heart and pay attention to their heartbeat and breathing and how their body now feels.
Personal Weather Report
Ask your child to give you a personal weather report of how they are feeling within the present moment. Have them relate it to the weather: for example, “I’m feeling dark and cloudy with raindrop tears leaking out.”
Notice things with art. Choose different art utensils, such as pencils, crayons and markers, and ask your child to describe how each one feels different from the others when used on paper.
Go outside with your child and just notice nature. Have them pick up a rock, or touch plants. Notice birds, bugs, and kneel down to touch the soil.
Walk mindfully with your child through the backyard, paying attention to everything they see, feel, hear, and smell. Explore with them the textures of everything they see in nature.
Practice kind thoughts with your child. Ask them to think of five people they’d like to send good wishes or kind thoughts to. Have them sit and think about these people and those wishes for a while.
Color Your Feelings
Sit with your child and color how you are feeling at that moment. Have your child color how they are feeling as well. Discuss what you each produce.
Blow bubbles with your child in slow motion.
Emphasize taking a deep breath through your nose to fill the bubble, then out through the mouth as slow as possible to blow the bubble.
Bang on a pot or pan while your child sits with you. Ask your child to signal to you when they no longer hear the sound hanging in the air.
Practice mindful snacking with your child. As they eat whatever food they like to snack on, ask them to describe the texture, smell and taste of the food.
Lie on your back with your child outside and look up in the sky. Describe to each other what you see in the clouds.
Explore how different objects feel. Then compare how those objects feel different when dry versus when they are wet.
Have your child help you cook a meal. Ask them to notice the different smells of each food, spice, and additive you use.
Ask your child to scan their body when they are experiencing feelings. Tell them to describe to you where they are feeling this emotion the most.
During one of your child’s happy moments, ask them to observe and describe to you the pleasant feelings they experience in their body and their mind.
Listen to music together with your child. See how many different instruments you can each identify and hear.
Take turns with your child and go back and forth naming as many things as you can for which each of you are grateful.
Have your child practice various body poses. “The Superman,” for example, asks them to stand with their feet a bit wider than the hips, clench their fists, and reach their arms to the sky, stretching their body as far as possible.
“Wonder Woman” involves standing with feet a bit wider than hips, and place their hands on their hips. Ask your child how they feel after doing each pose.
Apps and Videos for Mindfulness with Kids
Sometimes you can use the help of an app or a video to practice mindfulness with your kids.
Check our The Ultimate Guide to Fishing with Kids. Learn how you can make this outdoor activity memorable!
The YouTube Meditation Channel offers a variety of meditations you can practice with your kids. They focus on loving kindness, compassion, and meditation.
Common Sense Media offers a DreamyKid Meditation App for mobile devices.
Stop, Breathe & Think also offers an app focusing on mindfulness in kids.