Mindfulness is the practice of intentionally focusing on the present moment.
It has become a popular topic in recent years, as people have realised the importance of living in the present and being more aware of their thoughts and feelings.
Mindfulness can be beneficial for adults, but it can also be helpful for kids. If you’re unsure how to start your child on their mindfulness quest or looking for some extra activity inspiration, this post is for you!
Why do kids benefit from practising mindfulness?
Mindfulness has a range of benefits for kids. It can help them to:
- Be more present and aware of their thoughts and feelings
- Cope with difficult emotions such as anxiety, sadness, and anger
- Improve focus and concentration
- Be more patient
- Become more resilient in the face of challenges
- Get better sleep
As such, it’s essential to get them acquainted with the “art” of mindfulness as early as possible.
Before you begin
Before you start introducing mindfulness to your child’s life, talk to them about what mindfulness is and why it can be helpful. Ask them to share any experiences they have had of feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Talk about how mindfulness can help us cope with these feelings.
And finally, remind them that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to do mindfulness and that they are in a safe space as they practice it.
Eleven mindfulness activities for children
1. Guided meditation
A classic mindfulness practice, this activity helps gently guide children into taking a moment to be present in their bodies.
The best version of a guided meditation for children is the body scan. That’s where you (or an app/recording) slowly direct the child’s attention to sensations in their body, noticing where they hold tension and teaching them how to release the pressure through the power of their breath and focus.
This is perfect for the afternoon, after lunch when children start getting a little sleepy and need something peaceful to do to recuperate their energy.
2. Mindful eating
Mindful eating is the perfect activity to do as a family around mealtimes.
The act of mindful eating is all about experiencing your meal, from sourcing the ingredients all the way to eating it.
Get your children involved at every step of the process, asking them to acknowledge what they see, hear, smell, and taste as they go.
Engage your children in conversations about where your food comes from and the journey it took to get to your table. Consider simplifying this process where possible by sourcing local ingredients – the fewer steps it took to get from inception to your plate, the better.
And finally, get your children to be fully present with their food during mealtimes. What can you taste? What textures are you noticing? Does it smell different than it tastes? How does it make your tummy feel?
3. The mindfulness garden
The mindfulness garden is a mighty visualisation task for children of all ages to take part in.
Ask your child to close their eyes and imagine a huge garden. In this garden, they should imagine flowers, grass, weeds etc. All the typical things a garden would have.
Once they have this picture in their mind, explain to them that the flowers represent the things they love, and the weeds represent their fears and negative thoughts.
Ask them to focus on the flowers, watching them as they grow taller and more prominent, making the garden even more beautiful. Explain that the more they focus on the flowers, the more they grow.
After a few minutes, ask them to open their eyes. Remind them that just because the weeds were still there, it didn’t make the garden any less beautiful. But because they ignored the weeds and focused on the flowers, they let the good parts of the garden grow.
Explain that the same goes for thoughts. Bad thoughts will always be there, but if we ignore them and “water” the good thoughts, they get bigger, and the bad thoughts can’t take away from that.
4. The nature walk “scout trip”
There’s nothing better for mindfulness than connecting with nature.
Take your child on a walk and ask them to notice the animals around them. What do they see? What do they look like? Do they make a sound? If so, what sound do they make?
This helps your child stay present and focused as you walk around breathing in the fresh air around you.
5. Mindful journaling
Journaling is a powerful mindfulness tool, and you can never start it too early!
Using a specific kids journal, children are able to access their thoughts and emotions effectively while simultaneously improving their creativity and empathy.
Because the child concentrates on their thoughts and feelings, it allows them to stay present and connect with their inner self, creating a more emotionally intelligent child.
6. The Pinwheel Breathing technique
Breathing is extremely important in mindfulness. That’s because it’s scientifically proven that you can use your breath to relax, relax your muscles, and keep your focus on the present.
However, learning the correct breathing technique can be difficult for anyone, let alone children. To help with this, you can engage children with fun objects such as bubbles or pinwheels to help them practice breathing deeply.
The idea is simple. The deeper they breathe in, the longer they can breathe out, and the longer they can keep their pinwheel spinning.
7. Positive affirmations
Affirmations are positive statements that help children build a more positive relationship with themselves.
These affirmations can be about anything, such as “I am loved”, “I am important”, “I am valuable”, or “I am capable”.
The idea is that children repeat these affirmations to themselves every day, either out loud or in their head until they start to believe them.
This helps to build their self-esteem and confidence from a young age, setting them up for success in all areas of their life.
8. Mindful colouring page
Colouring pages are a great way to help children focus while also being creative.
There are many mindfulness colouring pages available online or in books. You can even create your own!
The idea is that children should focus on the colours and the lines as they colour, letting their minds relax and wander. This helps to clear their minds and allows them to focus on the present.
It's pretty calming for adults, too, so don't be afraid to join in on the fun!
9. The “Spidey Senses” game
In this activity, you will engage your child by getting them to channel everyone's favourite friendly neighbourhood spider - Spider-Man!
Tell your child that just like Spidey, they have to pretend to have heightened senses. That means they have super smell, touch, hearing, taste, and sight.
Go on a walk, or around the house or garden, and get them to tell you everything they're sensing with their new superpowers.
10. The glitter jar experiment
The glitter jar experiment is a great way to help children understand the concept of mindfulness.
It's simple - all you need is a jar, some water, and some glitter.
Fill the jar with water and add glitter. Then, put the lid on tightly and shake it up!
Once the glitter has settled, ask your child to watch the jar and describe what they see.
What do they notice? How does it make them feel?
After a few minutes, ask them to close their eyes and imagine that their mind is like the jar.
When they open their eyes, ask them to describe what they see.
Did the glitter settle? Or is it still moving around?
This activity helps children to understand that, just like the glitter, their thoughts will settle eventually if they give it time. It also shows them that it's okay to have negative thoughts - everyone does!
11. Express gratitude
Gratitude is an integral part of mindfulness. It helps us to appreciate the good in our lives and be thankful for what we have.
There are many ways to express gratitude, but one way you can do it with your child is by making a gratitude list together.
Every day, ask your child to name one thing they're grateful for. It can be anything, no matter how big or small.
You can write these down or just discuss them verbally.
This activity helps to encourage positive thinking and a more optimistic outlook on life.
Mindfulness is your child’s key to mental resilience and peace
Mindfulness is a skill they can use for the rest of their lives, and it all starts with you!
Whether you have five minutes or three hours, there are always ways to incorporate mindfulness into your child's life. It just takes a little innovation and creativity - luckily, mindfulness can help with that, too!
Remember, the way you help your child deal with their thoughts and emotions today can set them on a path for years to come – which path do you want to set them on?