With the whizzing and whirling of clock and calendar in today’s crazy-paced lifestyle, cultivating mindfulness in children becomes an increasingly important focus for parents, teachers, and child and family therapists. Mindfulness practices have many benefits as backed by science and with regular practice, mindfulness can help children develop emotional intelligence, reduce stress, and improve their overall well-being. In this article, we’ll explore various ways to help children experience mindfulness in their daily lives. We’ll also introduce you to some wonderful children’s books about mindfulness and mindfulness-based games and activities for families to enjoy together.
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Cultivating Mindfulness in Children
- Breathing Exercises: Teach children to focus on their breath by inhaling and exhaling slowly. Counting breaths or using techniques like “bunny breaths” (in for three hops, out for three hops) can make it fun and engaging. Check out my coloring and activity book for children and caregivers called BREATHE
- Body Scan: Encourage children to pay attention to their bodies by doing a gentle body scan. This helps them connect with their physical sensations and emotions. Check out this intervention created by Kim Lange called Body Signals you can use with children.
- Mindful Eating: Turn mealtime into a mindful experience. Encourage children to savor each bite, notice the flavors, and express gratitude for their food.
- Nature Walks: Take walks in nature, encouraging kids to observe and appreciate the beauty around them. Point out the sounds of birds, the feel of the wind, and the colors of leaves.
- Guided Meditations: Use age-appropriate guided meditations or mindfulness apps designed for children to help them relax and become more aware of their thoughts and feelings.
- Yoga for Kids: Incorporate kid-friendly yoga routines that focus on mindfulness and relaxation. Books like “Yoga Bug” by Sarah Jane Hinder can be helpful.
Children’s Books about Mindfulness
- “Sitting Still Like a Frog” by Eline Snel: This book offers mindfulness exercises for kids and their parents, making it an excellent starting point.
- “The Lemonade Hurricane” by Licia Morelli: This story beautifully illustrates how mindfulness can help children navigate their emotions.
- “I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness” by Susan Verde: This book teaches children that peace and mindfulness can be found within themselves.
- “Breathe Like a Bear” by Kira Willey: Filled with mindfulness exercises, this book helps children calm their bodies and minds.
- “A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles” by Thich Nhat Hanh: A wonderful introduction to mindfulness through pebble meditation.
Mindfulness-Based Games and Activities
- Mindful Coloring: Provide coloring books and coloring materials that allow children to focus on each stroke and color choice mindfully. Look at THIS special mindfulness coloring book for children.
- Feelings Bingo: Create a bingo game featuring different emotions. When a child matches a feeling to their experience, they can discuss it with the family. Here is a free printable version.
- Meditation Jars: Craft your own “calm down” jars filled with glitter and water. Children can shake them and watch the glitter settle, representing their racing thoughts calming down.
- Breathing Buddies: Use stuffed animals to demonstrate deep breathing. Children can place a stuffed animal on their belly and watch it rise and fall with each breath.
- Mindful Listening: Go on a sound scavenger hunt in your home or outdoors. Listen for birds, the wind, or other calming sounds.
- Gratitude Paper Chain: Encourage children to keep track of things, people, and experiences they feel grateful for by providing 1 inch x 6 inch strips of paper and a pen and add a grateful link to the chain each day.
Parents, caregivers, educators and child and family therapists can contribute to the process of cultivating mindfulness in children. By incorporating mindfulness practices, reading mindful books, and engaging in mindfulness-based games and activities, you can help children develop emotional awareness, resilience, and a greater sense of well-being. These practices will not only benefit children in their daily lives but also set a strong foundation for their future.