Mindfulness has been shown to improve the quality of our adult lives in many ways, but children too can join in on the amazing benefits. Specifically, mindfulness has been shown to: improve a child’s social skills, boost focus, lower attention problems, and even limit the negative effects of bullying.
Here are 6 ways you can practice mindfulness with children and start their journey to a mindful life at an early age:
1. Body Scans
Identifying with the body is one of the oldest forms of mindfulness, and easy for children of all ages to grasp. Start with your children lying on their back on a cozy surface and close their eyes. Have them tighten their muscles throughout their entire body (making fists, closing toes, etc.) and hold them like that for 5 seconds. Then tell them to “release” the hold – ask them to tell you to explain that feeling to you.
2. Heartbeat Tracking
Have your kids engage in a physical activity (like jumping jacks, push ups, run) – once they have finished have them gently place their hand over their heart and tell them to only focus on their heartbeat. This will help them improve focus and also become more aware of their own body.
3. Emotion Validation
Kids are full of a wide range of emotions. Though often adults will try and downplay them when a child expresses themselves (saying “it’s fine” when they are expressing pain). When trying to instill mindfulness it’s important to let them feel their feelings without us judging them. This will help them as they grow and learn how to deal, not suppress feelings and emotions – something many adults do on a daily basis.
4. Taste Tests
This is a fun one that your kids are sure to love. Pick out 5 foods that you know your kids will enjoy. Cover your child’s eyes and give them a bite of each one and tell them to first guess what it is, then have them try to describe to you what it tastes like.
5. Guided Meditation
It’s never too early to start teaching meditation to a child – I wish I would have learned earlier (it’s hard!). Most of the meditation apps out there offer meditations for kids, but it could be as simple as sitting with them, playing soft music in the background, and having them close their eyes and counting each breath. Meditation is something that works better as it compounds over time – so try and create a routine of daily meditation.
6. Follow the Leader
This one is actually more on you as the adult then on the child. We’ve all heard (and likely seen) that kids pick up on everything adults do – from how we speak to act. That said, it’s important to act in a mindful way yourself and practice what you preach.