Mindfulness Exercises and Activities for Kids
Mindfulness is fast becoming commonplace in work environments, but did you know kids can get involved too? In fact, teaching your child to be mindful from an early age can instil in them the resilience they need to thrive in later life.
So if you want to find fun, creative ways to get your child into mindfulness, keep reading – this one is for you!
What is mindfulness?
Before we begin, let’s make sure we are on the same page when it comes to mindfulness. Often, people misinterpret mindfulness to mean meditation.
Sure enough, meditation is a form of mindfulness, but mindfulness is not meditation!
Mindfulness is simply the practice of being present in your body and awareness. It teaches you to slow down and savour the moment – something far too many of us are guilty of not doing.
Contrary to popular belief, mindfulness doesn’t have to be still or boring. We’ve seen the benefits of being still but, not all of us are capable of sitting still for long periods of time.
But it doesn’t mean you can’t access mindfulness practice. There is something for everyone!
Benefits of mindfulness for children
So, why should you get your child into mindfulness?
Well, studies show that mindfulness:
- Improves focus and attention
- Increases compassion and empathy
- Improves academic performance
- Decreases anxiety, stress, and depression
- Improves creativity
- Improves happiness
- Allows children to better understand the way their brain works
Pretty cool, right? So let’s not waste any more time; here are some creative and fun mindfulness activities for kids.
Mindfulness exercises and activities for kids
1. The safari walk
The safari walk is all about getting children to notice their surroundings. Mindfulness walks are known to be an effective exercise in attention and focus.
Take your child for a walk and ask them to notice what’s going on around them.
Tell them to call out every time they see an animal, notice a noise, smell something in the air. How will they describe it?
This exercise encourages your child to actively engage in their walk and stay focused on the moment instead of getting bored and distracted.
You can make it even more fun by giving the walk a theme. Today we are walking in the jungle. We’re in a cave. We’re on a mission to find this list of things.
Having a theme helps your child engage without realising that it’s mindfulness practise.
2. The bubble pop
Learning to breath deeply and with correct technique can really help you centre yourself. But you try getting a kid to stand there focusing on their breath for five minutes – it’s not going to happen.
So let’s make it more exciting.
Tell your child you’re going to try and blow the biggest bubble possible using a bubble wand and soapy solution.
Encourage them to take deep breaths in and then control their breath as they breathe out.
Point out that if they exhale too quickly, the bubble will burst; if they breath out too slowly, the bubble won’t form.
Spend five minutes every few days (or as often as your child wants) practising making the biggest bubble possible without it popping.
3. The mindfulness garden
This exercise is all about teaching your child the power of their mind and attention.
It involves visualising growing a garden to demonstrate the power of our thoughts and how our focus and attention effects them.
This exercise works best when your child is in a calm mood as it is more passive than other activities.
Start by getting your child comfortable either sat down or lying down.
Ask them to slowly close their eyes and listen carefully to your story. Tell them they should imagine the story as you tell it.
Ask them to imagine a garden in their mind. In this garden there are trees, and flowers, and weeds, and everything else you would find in a garden.
Ask them to focus on the flowers one by one in their garden. Imagine them growing bigger and brighter, creating the most beautiful garden.
Let your child sit with this and play with the idea of the flowers growing for a few minutes, encouraging them to create the most amazing garden with the best flowers they can think of.
After a few minutes, ask them to describe their garden to you. Ask them what they like about their garden.
Get them to open their eyes. Gently, point them to the fact that in their garden there were weeds. But because they focused on the flowers instead of the weeds, they were able to grow a magnificent garden that they loved. They didn’t have to get rid of the weeds to enjoy the garden.
Explain that the weeds represent negative thoughts and the flowers represent positive thoughts. We will always have both, but the ones we pay most attention to are the ones that will grow strong. If we focus on the positive thoughts (flowers) instead of the negative thoughts (weeds) then the positive thoughts will flourish and the negative thoughts will just exist in the background without bothering us.
4. The food production train
Mindful eating is a popular activity for mindful practice.
It involves paying attention to where your food comes from, how it’s prepared, and then savouring the sensations as you eat it.
It’s a brilliant activity that you can get your kids involved in.
Next time you go shopping, bring the kids along and notice where they came from. Are they local to your city or country, or have they travelled from abroad? How many ingredients are in each item?
When you get home, get the kids to help out with preparing the dish, focusing on every step and every ingredient used.
Finally, when you sit down to eat together as a family (very important for mindfulness and beyond), encourage your children to smell their food and explain what they can smell, When they put the food in their mouth, what flavours can they taste? How does it feel? Encourage them to chew many times and slow down instead of inhaling their plate in two goes!
5. Mindful statues
Ok, this is really just yoga, but mindful statues makes it sound like a game!
Encourage your child to create different poses and hold them. Get the to focus on how each part of their body feels in the position. Tell them they should hold the position until you say the magic word (you can make one up).
If your child is feeling a bit restless, encourage them to shake it off between poses, and don’t make them hold positions for too long.
The important thing is getting your child to notice the sensations in their body, keeping their focus on the present.
6. The heartbeat experiment
This is another body sensation activity, but for the more active child.
Children have a lot of energy and get them to be still isn’t always an option. So let’s lean into that. Set a timer and tell your child they have one minute to do something active (run, hop, star jumps, dance…whatever they enjoy doing).
Once the minute is up tell them to stop and stand still.
Ask them to notice how their heartbeat is thumping against their chest. How their breath is faster.
Encourage them to notice the sensations in their body, in their limbs. Are they tired? Tingling? Do they feel tight or loose?
Getting your child to elevate their heartrate before doing a bodyscan like this makes it easier for them to notice sensations in their body, and teaches them the fundamentals to tap into this activity when they are calmer, too, as they will better understand what they are trying to feel for.
7. The snow globe effect
The final activity on this list is all about creating an activity that explains mindfulness to children in a fun and inventive way.
It’s simple really. Get a jar, fill it with water and some glitter. If you’re feeling extra crafty, you can get your child to create a picture or figure to stick in their homemade snow globe, too.
Once you’ve completed it, get your child to shake it so the glitter flies around the jar, and then watch as the glitter settles.
Explain that the glitter represents their thoughts and emotions, and the jar represents them.
Point out that even though the glitter can go everywhere and seem chaotic when you shake it, it always settles back down eventually without you having to do anything to it.
So, when they feel like their thoughts and feelings are getting too much and flying everywhere, they just have to remember the snow globe; just like the glitter, their emotions and thoughts will settle without the having to interfere.
Mindfulness can be extremely fun when you put a bit of imagination into it.
By using some of our favourite mindfulness activities for kids in the list above, you’ll have your kids enjoying being in the present in no time!
Let us know which activities your kids enjoyed the most in the comments below or message us on Instagram at @malpaper !
We can’t wait to hear about your family’s journey into mindfulness!