5 Ways to Practice Mindfulness with Your Kids
Mindfulness has endless mental and physical health benefits for children and adults alike. Here’s how you can teach the practice of being present to your kids at any age.
Mindfulness is defined as “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something”. In terms of health benefits, mindfulness practices in children can reduce anxiety and boost overall mood. Mindfulness can also provide a sense of control and peacefulness for young children.
Here are 5 ways to practice (and model) mindfulness with your children.
- Practice quiet time or child-friendly yoga
Quiet time and yoga are two great ways to ease into mindfulness for children. If your child gravitates towards quiet time or does well with silence, practice having them set a timer and spending 2 or 3 minutes in “quiet time”. You can signal the change to quiet time by laying down on a special blanket, yoga mat, or on the ground together. Encourage your child ahead of time to think about their breathing and feeling calm from their toes all the way up to their head. Once the quiet time has finished, ask your child to calmly reflect on how they felt during the mindfulness practice. Praise and encourage them for taking the time to relax and feel present in their own body.
If your child is into activity or needs constant instruction, child-friendly yoga may be a great way to practice some mindfulness together. If you need resources specific to children or age-appropriate yoga routines, check out YouTube. There are lots of resources that satisfy the yoga component and the childhood imagination component. Follow along in the routine with your child. Once finished, ask them how they felt before yoga and how they feel after completing the routine.
- Encourage noticing/naming bodily sensations
This can be done before bed, during quiet time, or during an activity where your child feels extra responsive and engaged. For example, if your child expresses that they’re upset with you, a sibling, or a friend, ask how they felt during the moment that they realized that they were mad or sad. Did it feel like a big emotion? Another great way to reflect on bodily sensations is to ask your child before bedtime to explain how their body feels under the covers. Do you feel warm? Do you feel safe? Does your stomach feel like butterflies because you’re nervous for school tomorrow? You’d be surprised what kids are willing to say when you ask them an open-ended question. And if they don’t have anything to say? That’s okay too. Don’t push it - but be consistent.
- Establish your own mindfulness practice
You can’t encourage mindfulness for children if you don’t practice mindfulness for yourself on a daily basis. Find a way to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine and do some research on different practices. Encourage your spouse, partner, or other adults in your life to do the same.
- Keep it simple and maintain low expectations
Simplicity is the key with childhood imagination. Mindfulness for children doesn’t have to be a long or monotonous process. It can be a 2 or 3 minute practice anywhere and anytime in your daily routine with the kids. Keep your expectations for results low with children, it’s about building the habit and not about doing it perfectly. Even small steps towards understanding mindfulness and being present can go a long way for your child as they grow and mature.
- Use a YouTube or online mindfulness meditation for kids
Turn to the internet as a resource for mindfulness, especially creative meditations that incorporate breathing exercises. There are dozens of child-friendly meditations on YouTube that can be played before a nap, in the middle of the day, or before bed. One of the best meditations involves blasting off from earth to space, and breathing deeply during the entire adventure. Incorporating a meditation that appeals to the childhood imagination is the best way to engage a child. You can even listen to and complete the same meditatio with your child if you want!
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Photo by: yan-krukov