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Let's face it – kids would do well to practice a little mindfulness from time to time! While we undoubtedly love our kids, they're often running around, making noise, and generally being kids. So what if you could bring them the benefits of mindfulness before they become old enough for full-on meditation?
Turns out, you can! Let’s break down some top mindfulness activities for kids, whether you’re a parent at home or a teacher in the classroom.
You already do a lot for your kid – you keep them on a healthy diet, make sure they get a good multivitamin, and get them to go outside for some exercise. But there’s always more to do, and one thing you might not have imagined is mindfulness.
While kids are usually much more energetic than adults, and they don’t have the same patience or attention span, they can also benefit from mindfulness activities. Just as we adults feel calmer and more in control after becoming more mindful of our bodies or situation, kids can as well.
In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to show that mindfulness can provide kids with serious benefits. For example:
However, although introducing mindfulness can provide great benefits to your kids (either at home or in the classroom) there are also plenty of difficulties. Since even adults have difficulties reaching a state of mindfulness, kids have an even harder time since it’s trickier for them to organize their thoughts and focus on a single effort.
After all, most kids are more comfortable on the move, running, playing, and roughhousing. This just means that, for you to successfully implement mindfulness with your kids’ routines, you need to be a bit creative.
Most great mindfulness activities for kids will engage them in a game or activity, or be easy for them to grasp.
Want to learn some techniques for teaching mindfulness to your kids at home? Try these!
To start, try teaching your kids to focus on kind thoughts. For instance, you might ask them to say five nice things about people they met that day. Kids can be inherently a bit selfish, but this activity teaches them to be aware of their own impact on others and how others impact them on a daily basis.
Plus, it’s a positive thinking exercise that’s likely to result in better thinking habits in the long run!
Want to introduce some breathing exercises early? Have your child pretend to blow bubbles. This requires them to draw in a relatively big breath through the nose, then blow out slowly through the mouth. You can even do this with real bubbles and wands if you have the supplies!
Either way, it teaches your child breath control and provides a fun game for them to concentrate on for a little while.
Here’s a more direct way to teach your child about mindfulness – have them focus on, then squeeze or tense different bodily muscles and release them over time. This is a great way to teach them about their bodies and help them be aware of their limbs, particularly if they are younger kids still learning some of the basics about coordination.
A good rule of thumb is not to go too hard on this. Only have them tense their muscles for a few seconds or so. This helps to ensure that they don’t get bored.
You can bond easily with your child with this activity – have your kid feel your heartbeat and vice versa. This is a good way to segue into a basic biology lesson if you're up for it, too. Either way, it’s an excuse to cuddle!
One last thing to try is to have your kid describe one of their favorite snacks as they eat it. Not only does this force them to actually think about why they like their snack, but it can help strengthen their verbal skills. You can also explain what different ingredients mean and do, and why it’s important to eat healthy foods and vitamins as often as possible.
Teaching kids mindfulness in the classroom can be effective and valuable, especially if you’re trying to get them to quiet down after recess.
Kids love coloring almost as a rule. Introduce some new coloring books or sheets and have your class get to work with quiet coloring time. You can even have your kids showcase their art to everyone at the end if you like!
Want your classroom to be more mindful? Have your kids write down all the thoughts they’re having in the present. In fact, have them start a journal and keep a running record of everything they think about during a particular time of day, like after recess. Making this a habit will be easier, as your kids will expect it every day.
The STOP acronym stands for “Stop, Take a Breath, Observe, and Proceed”. It’s a great way to teach your kids about patience and mindful decision-making, especially when it comes to bullying or making a decision when things are tense.
Teaching your classroom about this acronym can double as a mindfulness lesson and a lesson about conflict resolution.
If your school has an outdoor area with flowers, trees, and the like, take your class on a nature walk. Have them focus on and talk about the natural environment, and use the opportunity to explain more about the natural world for a bonus lesson.
Lastly, have your students tell each other stories, then repeat the stories they hear. This can teach them both about mindfulness and how they absorb information from others. Plus, it’ll make them better listeners.
Ultimately, feel free to use any or all of the above strategies for your kids! Whether you’re a teacher trying to corral a classroom or a regular parent just looking to provide your kid with a little mindfulness and calm after a busy day, mindfulness will give your child tangible benefits and bring you closer together.
Alongside a healthy multivitamin, a balanced diet, and plenty of exercise, mindfulness exercises can help your child grow to their full potential.