We are well aware that there is much evidence out there that proves the benefits of mindfulness for children. But we are equally aware of the challenges that come with trying to implement that mindfulness in the chaotic classroom and often hectic home. So, in order to assist, we’ve scoured the web for some resources and tips that offer excellent methods for child mindfulness that are sure to make being present for children a little bit more fun and, well…mindful.
A few tips to begin;
- Have your own mindfulness practice – its much easier to preach what you practice!
- Keep it simple – especially if your children are new to mindfulness. Mindfulness is noticing our thoughts, what our body feels like, what our ears are hearing, and anything else that is around us and happening right now.
With that in mind, try the following mindfulness exercises;
Create a mindful sleeptime ritual. Bedtime (or nap-time) is a great time to introduce mindfulness to kids and is a calming way to wind down from the day. A short body-scan before sleeping is ideal — ask the children to close their eyes and bring their attention to their toes, their feet, their legs … and allow them to drift off slowly.
A personal weather report. In Sitting Still Like a Frog, Eline Snel encourages children to choose a weather report that best suits their mood and feelings; sunny, rainy, stormy, calm, windy, hot? This activity allows children to observe their present state without getting caught up in their emotions. We can’t change the weather outside, and we can’t change our emotions either, but we can change how we relate to them.
SpiderMan meditation. This meditation from Kids Relaxation teaches children to activate their “spidey-senses” and their ability to focus on everything that they can smell, taste, and hear in the present moment. Great idea for any little super hero.
Breathing techniques. Looking for advice on how to incorporate mindfulness techniques into your outdoor or indoor classroom? Try a breathing technique via Molly McConnel for Forest Schooled.
“Give each child a small feather to be responsible for. Gently invite them to hold the feather several inches from the mouth and nose. As they breathe in different ways, they will notice the feather moving. These children are literally having the experience of WATCHING their own breath. You can guide different qualities of the breath by challenging them to breath slowly or quickly, soft or hard, through the nose or through the mouth. This practice brings deeper awareness and is a great medium to lead into wind-down activities.”
Practice with a breathing buddy. For young children, an instruction to simply “pay attention to the breath” can be hard to follow. Daniel Goleman describes the “breathing buddy” exercise: each child holds a stuffed animal, and then lies down on their back with their buddy on their belly. They focus their attention on the rise and fall of the stuffed animal as they breathe in and out. Check out the video here.
If you implement any of these techniques in the classroom or at home, please let us know how they work out for you! And be sure to comment about any techniques that have worked for you that we haven’t mentioned here. We would love to hear from you!