In today’s increasingly stressful world, we tend to think that adults are the only ones affected by stress. Nothing can be further from the truth; our precious children are more affected by stress than we would care to know about. This is why it is important to focus on mindfulness for kids. While we are attempting to manage our stress, we also need to educate our kids on how to manage theirs. Stress is not going away; we must learn how to manage and deal with it so that they have the tools to navigate life in a healthy manner. Here are some tips for teaching our children how to be mindful:
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the state of being present and in the moment. To practice mindfulness is not as easy as it seems; the more we realize that our brains are always moving, always thinking in fast forward. Even children are thinking about the next move, the next activity, the “what ifs” that are keeping them from being fully present. Being mindful is not an activity; it’s a state of mind.
Mindfulness for Kids Tips
Here are simple mindfulness for kids practices to teach them, and perhaps yourself, how to be mindful and stress less throughout their day.
Play the ‘5 Things’ Game
Simply noticing objects and attributes about your surroundings can be enough to bring you back to the present. Ask your child to focus on 5 things that they see around them, 5 things they hear, or 5 things they notice about their environment. Shifting their awareness to the present moment that they are experiencing will move them from a place of anxiety and fear about future events to the now moment, which is a place that they can learn to appreciate more and more with practice.
Take 10 Breaths
Consciously slowing down our breathing can do wonders for slowing down brain wave activity, which will then produce a calming effect on the entire body. Have your child sit or lie down on the floor, placing a hand over the belly. Have them take 10 deep breaths, filling in the belly completely, then exhaling slowly while eyes are closed. If 10 is too many to start, begin with 5 breaths and model this type of mindful breathing with them until they, too, begin to notice the difference in mind and body that this type of breathing makes.
Drawing your emotions
Kids have big emotions, and sometimes these cannot be expressed with words when they are too powerful. In cases like this, it is helpful to be able to “draw them” out of the body. Explain to your child that you are going to release your emotions by drawing ANYTHING on paper; it could be a series of slashes, scribbles, wavy lines, or a detailed landscape. The point is, the child sets the intention to release any big emotion being experienced through the medium of a drawing. As he/she draws, invite them to breath deep and see if they can connect the breath to their strokes. Practice non-judgmental observance when noticing what they choose to express in their drawings, and praise them for their courage in being able to let go.
Play the Silence Game
In a world that is increasingly stimulating to minds and bodies, it can be hard to know the power of “being still”. Children love the silence game; it awakens the competitive spirit within and it also pushes the boundaries of personal limitations. In this game, a timer is set while children sit or lie quietly on the floor, eyes closed. They must be silent via mouth and with their bodies; practicing the art of being perfectly still will connect them to that true source of inner calm that we all have access to.
Mindfulness for kids includes them seeing the trusted adults in their lives practice mindfulness, as well.
Modeling these behaviors for your child is extremely powerful as well; you will create experiences that you can bond over, and you’ll discover an awakening within yourself that you might not have otherwise accessed. Practice mindfulness together, and see what wonderful things transpire!