This is a 4-Part blog series where I will be sharing tips and tools on how to teach and implement mindfulness for children.
Mindfulness, in simple terms, is being aware. The exact place you are in, the clothes you are wearing, who are you with, and what you’re thinking about in that single moment, are all part of being present in moment awareness. Notice what thoughts you’re having without being judgmental; just simply observe them.
Children are like sponges and they soak up all the information we give them so why not give them the best? Nowadays, kids are taking in a lot more information than we did at their age through their social life, media channels, education system, etc. They are being stressed and developing a lot of health and emotional issues at much younger ages. Mindfulness is so beneficial for them, and even more so than adults, at times. These tools are something that they can hold onto for a lifetime. I have found that these tools help them open up, have conversations, and share deep emotions in a safe space. These tools will benefit children with special needs such as Autism, ADHD, etc. Mindfulness is truly beneficial for all.
Through mindfulness, they are being taught to acknowledge their emotions and then to check the origin of them. Being respectful of their own feelings, self-love, care, kindness, gratitude, and body awareness are just a few key benefits you will notice instantly.
In this series, I will be sharing tips which can be implemented with kids. I have used them with my own children and in the schools in which I teach mindfulness.
Firstly, it can be made fun rather than a boring, “chore-like” task. Don’t make it sound like homework. Also, don’t ask them to do on their own. Do it along with them. And most importantly, keep it simple.
Mindfulness is being aware. Remind them of this by asking how they are doing at any point throughout the day.
Below are 7 easy steps to implement the practice of mindfulness for children:
Yes, this means simple breathing reminders throughout the day. When I first say this in class, the kids always giggle and ask, “What do you mean remember to breathe? We are always breathing.”Remember, it’s the awareness that you are breathing. Breathe in from belly and breathe out from belly. Noticing the belly going up like a balloon and down when it is contracting. This process helps with whole-body relaxing and mind calming.
Breathe to count of 5
Another one to implement is to breathe using numbers 1 through 5 or 5 down to 1. Inhale on #1, exhale on #2, inhale on #3, exhale on #4, inhale on #5, then repeat if necessary.
Again, this is a reminder to breathe and fully pump oxygen into your body. Let’s say that you have stress, homework, or perhaps rage towards a friend, this breathing practice will help you when implemented, and help you get back to said problem with a solution. This few seconds of a pause will create a space for you to come back to feeling recharged.
In the gratitude leaf, (a printable leaf-shape or any shape of the children’s interests) ask them to write about what they are grateful for. In this exercise, some may struggle to find things to write about, and others will write tons of things. Give them ideas such as:
It’s amazing how they generally choose non-material things. This helps them acknowledge what they already have, and also look at the brighter side of life.
Bring in a glitter jar or snow globe. This will show how our mind is with thoughts when it’s shaken, and how it settles when it’s not stirred up; just like breathing calms our minds and bodies. You can ask them to take notice to how the glitters are settling in with no other interrupting thoughts. It’s almost like a hypnotizing state for these children to be in that space. I also make glitter jars with kids as it’s so much fun and they tend to use it more often when they understand what goes in it.
I use bells, Tibetan bowls, and sound bars to help with relaxation and with this, they settle into their bodies. When the bell rings, they are calm and focused inward. I ask them to raise their arms when they hear the last sound at around 30-50 seconds. Breathing in and out gently, while their calming minds. Going around the room and taking turns with bells helps them to take responsibility as well. If you don’t have these tools available, you can use the utensils you have at home.
Body Scan Meditation
This is an amazing tool that can be done at any time. It’s very effective with kids who struggle with sleep issues. It’s a form of meditation where we go through thanking each body part from the toes up to the head and relaxing them. Again, kids love to lead the group as they like to take responsibility. I have this mediation recorded on SoundCloud.
Be mindful of what you are eating, and also, the taste and smell of it. Just being aware of it helps in bringing your awareness to the food on the table. When you use all of your 5 senses when you eat, you enjoy it much more. It can be a piece of chocolate or a piece of broccoli. This helps them to appreciate the food they have in front of them and to feel comfortable asking for information about the food that comes to the table, which makes it more interesting to them.
Reverse the daily activity
This is very much a fun exercise. As an example, if you brush your teeth with left hand try instead brushing with your right hand. If you eat with your right hand try eating with your left hand. What happens with this whole reversal process is that it brings you into attention rather than in autopilot mode and more aware of your tasks. Try this exercise with your normal daily activities. It will slow you down, and if a child is hyper, this will help calm them. Remember to do it together with them rather telling them to do it.
- In Part 2 of this series, I’ll explore how kids naturally teach us mindfulness.
- In Part 3, I will explain how you can bond with your child through mindfulness.
- In Part 4, I’ll wrap things up by discussing how mindfulness tools are effective and can be applied to your daily life without further complicating it.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series next week!