Mindfulness is the practice of awareness of your internal and external experience in the present moment. Essentially it means maintaining a moment by moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Spoiler alert: mindfulness exercises for kids is no different!
If you’re silent for a moment, you can begin to notice the subtleties around you like the smell of your clothes, the sound of your breathing, and watch a small leaf blow past your window. Mindfulness can be an incredibly calming, relaxing practice that can help adults and children in numerous ways.
Studies have shown that kids who have learned and practice mindfulness exercises showed better grades, increased patience and better coping skills. When taught in schools, mindfulness increases optimism in classrooms while decreasing bullying and aggression!
With evidence like this, it sure seems like something that should be taught in schools these days. Teaching kids mindfulness doesn’t have to be overly complicated and hard. It can be simple, fun and easy. Here’s how!
Simple Mindfulness Exercises For Kids
1. Muscle Awareness
Teach your child to become aware of their body with a muscle awareness exercise. Sit down on the floor and do some exercises where they focus on one muscle at a time. They can point their toe and hold, and as you do the same ask them what they feel and where exactly they feel the tightening of their muscle. Hold for a few seconds and release, then repeat with other muscles.
2. Breathing Buddy
Have your child lie on her back with a favorite stuffed animal on her belly. Have her watch the stuffed animal, which will naturally rise and fall as she breathes in and out. Teach your child to breathe in through their nose slowly, to hold their breath for a few seconds, then slowly release the breath as they watch their stuffed animal rise and fall to match their breaths.
3. Mindful Walk
Take a mindful walk around the block or at a local park with your child. Take in the sights, sounds and smells. What does your body feel like as you’re walking? What muscles do you feel working the most? Notice sounds you may hear, especially subtle sounds like a leaf skittering across the grass, or the crunch of a leaf as you step in. This will help them relax. get in a little bit of exercise and learn to appreciate all their body does to keep them moving.
4. Mindful Snack
Having a mindful meal or snack with your child is another great mindfulness exercises for kids. As you eat, focus on each aspect of the food. What are the colors? How does it taste and smell? Have your child describe what happens when they chew and swallow. Have them notice what muscles are moving as they eat or bring the food to their mouth. If they need some help, describe what you’re feeling and sensing so they can learn to describe it.
Children learn what they see at home, so modeling mindfulness practices will benefit them greatly. If you’re struggling to teach your child mindfulness skills or deal with the rigors of parenting, find an awesome therapist you like and trust to help!
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in Greater New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.