Do you wish that you could teach your kids how to live a happier and more positive life? A mental trick that would help them navigate life's ups and downs, even when the odds are against them? That secret superpower is mindfulness! Mindfulness is not only beneficial for managing difficult problems like sadness, fear or anger— it’s also an invaluable skill that will stay with them as they enter adulthood. By mastering mindfulness early on in life, your child can grow up feeling great about who they are and able to cope with whatever comes their way!
In this blog post, we'll explore how parents can introduce mindfulness to their children as well as some great age-specific tips!
GENERAL WAYS TO PRACTISE MINDFULNESS
Mindful Art: Engage your child in mindful art activities, such as colouring or drawing. Encourage them to focus on the process of creating art, rather than the end result. Ask them to pay attention to the colours, the strokes they make, and the feelings that arise during the activity.
Experience the joy of art and mindfulness classes for you and your kids at Belsize Community Library! Discover the incredible benefits of these sessions, including stronger parent-child bonding, limitless creativity, and the power of self-expression.
As you create art, you’ll focus on the present moment, breathe in the therapeutic effects of creativity and exhale your worries and anxieties away. Let art bring you and your little ones closer together and enhance your overall well-being. Join us in cultivating a positive and supportive family environment through the magic of art and mindfulness.
Mindful Breathing Exercises: Teach children the power of focused breathing by engaging them in simple breathing exercises. Guide them to take deep breaths in through their nose and exhale slowly through their mouth. Encourage them to pay attention to the sensation of their breath entering and leaving their bodies. This helps them develop self-awareness, relaxes their minds, and enhances their ability to focus.
5 Senses Exercise: Encourage children to explore their environment using their 5 senses. Ask them to name 5 things they can see, 4 things they can touch, 3 things they can hear, 2 things they can smell, and 1 thing they can taste. This exercise helps ground them in the present moment.
Gratitude Practice: Encourage kids to regularly reflect on and express gratitude for the things, experiences, and people they appreciate. For example, get a gratitude journal, where they write or draw about the things they are thankful for. This practice helps develop a positive mindset and fosters resilience in the face of challenges.
Unwind at the end of each day through the powerful practice of a gratitude journal with affirmations. This Mindful Dreams notebook has lots of uplifting affirmations, serving as a wonderful motivator. Your child will love reading and colouring these affirmations, fostering a sense of self-love and belief in their abilities. Plus, it includes 'Mummy & Me' Gratitude Journals, nurturing the value of appreciation and thankfulness for everything they have!
Mindful Reflection & Journaling: Encourage your child to keep a mindful journal where they can write or draw about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Questions like, "What are 3 things that made you smile today?" or "What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?" helps them reflect on their day, develop self-expression, and gain insights into their experiences.
Mindful Eating: Teach children to engage their senses and be present during mealtime. Encourage them to pay attention to the colours, textures, smells and tastes of the food they eat. This promotes mindful eating habits and helps children develop an appreciation for nourishing their bodies.
Mindful Movement: Engage in mindful movement activities such as yoga or tai chi. These practices encourage children to focus on their body movements, balance, and breathing. They help develop body awareness, improve coordination, and promotes physical well-being.
Guided Visualization: Guide children through a visualization exercise where they imagine a positive, empowering scenario. Encourage them to use their imagination to create vivid mental images of their desired outcomes. For example, they can imagine themselves successfully completing a task, achieving a goal, or overcoming a challenge. This activity helps children develop a positive mindset, boosts their self-confidence, and encourages them to pursue their dreams.
Mindful Walks: Take mindful walks together. While walking, encourage them to notice their surroundings—the colours, textures, and smells. Prompt them to pay attention to the sensation of their feet touching the ground. Encourage them to walk slowly and mindfully, taking in the present moment. This activity promotes a connection with nature and cultivates a sense of calm and appreciation.
Mindful Body Scan: Guide your child through a body scan meditation. Have them sit or lie down comfortably and close their eyes. Ask them to bring their attention to different parts of their body, starting from the top of their head and slowly moving down to their toes. Encourage them to notice any sensations or tensions in each body part without judgment. This activity promotes relaxation, body awareness, and grounding in the present moment.
Remember to adapt these activities to the age and developmental level of the children. Making them fun, interactive, and age-appropriate will increase engagement and maximize their benefits.
10 AGE SPECIFIC MINDFULNESS TIPS
5-8 years old
Breathing Buddies: Introduce the concept of mindful breathing by using a stuffed animal or a small toy as a "breathing buddy." Have your child lie down comfortably and place the toy on their belly. Instruct them to take slow, deep breaths, noticing how the toy rises and falls with each breath.
Mindful Listening: Encourage your child to practice mindful listening by engaging their sense of hearing. Take them to a quiet outdoor space or a calm indoor area. Ask them to close their eyes and listen carefully to the sounds around them. After a few moments, discuss what they heard, including both loud and soft sounds. This activity helps them develop focused attention and sensory awareness.
Emotion Check-In: Help your child develop emotional awareness and self-regulation by conducting regular emotion check-ins. Create a chart or use a feelings wheel with different emotions depicted on it. Ask your child to identify and express how they're feeling at that moment. Encourage them to share why they might be feeling that way. This practice helps them understand and manage their emotions effectively.
9-11 years old
Deep Belly Breathing: Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose, feeling your belly rise as you fill your lungs with air. Exhale slowly through your mouth, allowing your belly to fall. Repeat this deep belly breathing for several breaths, focusing your attention on the sensation of the breath.
Mindful Listening to Music: Choose a calming piece of instrumental music and have your child listen to it mindfully. Encourage them to close their eyes and pay attention to the different instruments, rhythms, and melodies. Afterward, discuss how the music made them feel and what they noticed during the experience.
Mindful Eating Challenge: Choose a small, flavourful snack such as a piece of fruit or a piece of chocolate. Encourage them to take small bites, sense the flavours, and notice the textures. Notice how eating mindfully enhances the eating experience- ask them how they feel.
Guided Imagery: Engage children's imagination by guiding them through a calming and positive visualization. For example, have them imagine floating on a cloud, walking through a peaceful forest, or swimming with dolphins. Encourage them to use their senses to fully experience the imagery.
12-16 years old
Mindful Breathing and Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Guide your teenager through deep breathing exercises combined with progressive muscle relaxation. Encourage them to find a quiet space where they can sit or lie down comfortably. Instruct them to take slow, deep breaths while gradually tensing and relaxing different muscle groups, starting from their toes and moving up to their head.
Mindful Technology Use: Encourage your teenager to practice mindfulness while using technology. Help them develop awareness of their screen time and its impact on their well-being. Encourage them to take breaks, practice digital detoxes, and engage in mindful usage of social media. Encourage them to be present and attentive to their activities online, promoting a healthier relationship with technology.
Listening to Guided Meditations: There are numerous apps & websites available with various themes, such as stress reduction, improving self-esteem, focus enhancement etc. Encourage them to listen to guided meditations regularly and discuss their experiences afterward.
It's important to create a supportive and non-judgmental environment for teenagers to explore mindfulness. Encourage open communication and let them choose what they resonate with the most. Consistency and patience are key.
Mindfulness is a life-long journey, and it starts during childhood. It’s of utmost importance that we, as parents actively engage with our children when teaching them these mindfulness techniques— both through words, and more importantly, through example. By being a role model and practising mindfulness ourselves, our kids are more likely to get involved. And always remember to make these practices engaging and age-appropriate. Keep the sessions short and enjoyable, and encourage them to explore mindfulness in a way that resonates with their unique interests and personalities.
So let’s get mindful together— what are some ways you practice mindfulness?