The benefits of practicing mindfulness are endless for kids! Research shows that practicing mindfulness improves attention, emotional regulation and compassion, and helps reduce stress and anxiety. Here are 5 simple ways to introduce awareness to your children.
1. Introduce the concept of mindfulness.
Books are a great way to help children visualize new concepts and ideas. The Mindful Child dives into the benefits of mindfulness training for children ages four and up with age-appropriate exercises, songs, games and fables developed by Susan Kaiser Greenland, a leading expert on teaching mindful awareness to kids. For younger children, Breathe Like a Bear offers 30 mindfulness exercises designed to teach little ones techniques for managing their bodies, breath, and emotions.
2. Practice mindfulness daily.
Get into the habit of setting aside 5-10 minutes everyday to practice meditation and/or yoga. Make this an activity that you do together! Find a comfortable spot in your home to sit with your child and take deep, slow breaths together, counting your inhalations and exhalations. Kids’ yoga decks, such as Yoga Pretzels, are another fun and easy way for children to learn the basics of yoga.
3. Take pause in your daily routines.
Familiar with the phrase “stop and smell the flowers”? You can show your little ones mindfulness by taking time to stop and notice the little things in your everyday life. When taking a walk, take a few moments to observe the way the wind blows through the trees or admire the changing color of the leaves. When unpacking groceries, encourage your little one to stop and smell the citrusy lemons or fresh herbs, or pause during meal time to savor how delicious something tastes.
4. Make a calming glitter jar.
These Glitter jars from Heart Mind Kids have a soothing effect and encourage meditation – plus with only 4 materials (a glass jar, glue, glitter and water) they are a super easy project to make with your kids! They are also a useful visual for illustrating emotions and helping children better understand communication. For example when frustrated HMK suggests saying, “We are all upset with lots of thoughts and feelings right now. Let’s take a break until the glitter in the calm-down jar has settled and then start talking again.”
5. Reflect on what you’re grateful for.
Make it a daily habit to start your days by prompting children to reflect on three things they are grateful for. These can be big (an exciting adventure you’ve had together, a teacher, a friend), or small (a stuffed animal, bubbles, or book they love). Write down their thoughts on pieces of paper and put them in a gratitude jar, or notate what they’re thankful for in a journal. This is a sweet keepsake to have as your little one gets older too!