Mindfulness helps children with their ability to pay attention, to calm down when upset, and make better decisions by helping with their emotional regulation and cognitive focus.
What’s not to love! There are plenty of ways to teach children the skill of mindfulness, here are a few of our favourites.
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How to Teach Mindfulness to Children
Get in the Zone
Mindfulness needs no distractions. Turn off the television and put the phone away. It is best to keep the sessions short depending on the child’s age with five minutes or less being ideal. Older children may wish to do longer sessions.
Be prepared for younger children to fidget at first until they are comfortable with the concept and learn to sit quietly. After short sessions, remember to praise their efforts. You will find as children become more accustomed to the practice they will get better at the techniques.
Even though we breathe every second of the day, mindful breathing is a skill encouraging us to slow down. Children can benefit from using a breathing buddy. Simply ask your child to lie down on their back with their breathing buddy on their belly. This could be their favourite stuffed teddy. Ask them to concentrate on their breathing by getting them to watch their stuffed teddy rise and fall on their belly as they breathe in and out.
Mindful play is possibly something you already do. It involves being aware of the five senses during somewhat messy play. Use finger paints, water, sand, slime or goo. Anything kids can really get their hands into. As they play, guide them to be fully present in the moment whenever they get distracted. Focus on their senses by exploring what they see, hear, feel and smell.
Mindful listening is an easy way for children to practice mindfulness as they pay attention to specific sounds. You can use a bell, chimes or even a phone app to generate sounds to listen to. Play a sound and ask your children to listen carefully until it slowly fades and disappears.
A mindful walk is a great family activity. It can take place anywhere once you spend some time mindfully seeing things which you haven’t noticed before and listening to all the sounds around you. If you’re in a forest, listen for the wind, the birds and footsteps. Notice the colours of the leaves, the pinecones on the ground and the sizes of the twigs.