How do we make mindfulness fun and practical for younger kids?
Kids’ brains have to work pretty hard these days. They seem to have more jam-packed school and home lives than our generation and all the bright, busy screens competing for their attention make quiet time hard to come by. Mindfulness is a great way to introduce a little stillness into their days. Even the most basic techniques can help to improve their concentration and self-awareness and empower them to better manage their emotions. But it’s a pretty abstract thing for a 6-9 year old to grasp
Here are five fun and simple activities you could try with your kids at home:
Play ‘What’s in the Box?’
This exercise teaches children to notice and understand their feelings.
Fill an empty cereal box with something unexpected like buttons, paper clips, coins or colouring pens. Ask your kids what they think is inside. Take all their suggestions and be encouraging, really get their imaginations going.
Then focus on their emotions. How do they feel about not knowing what’s inside? Are they curious? Excited? Frustrated? It doesn’t matter what they feel, only that they mindfully acknowledge what those feelings are.
Now tell them that you’re going to empty the box. How do they feel now? Even more excited? Worried? Relieved? Again, spend some time getting them to think about and communicate their emotions.
Tip everything out. What’s their reaction? Surprise? Disappointment? Where did the excitement go? Has it gone away? Spend some time talking about how the activity made them feel.
We made a video version of this, which you can share with your kids, called Hidden Treasure. We swapped the cereal box for a mini treasure chest and changed the contents to…well, we’re not going to give that away are we!
Make a Mind Jar!
This teaches kids about breathing – explaining how it can help you to relax.
To make your Mind Jar, take an old jam jar and fill it with a bit of water, some glitter glue (and if you like, some food dye).
Get your kids settled and tell them your going to spend some time breathing and “blissing out”. Shake your Mind Jar and let your kids see all the sparkles fly around. Make the connection between the sparkly bits being their thoughts and feelings flying around when they’re a bit stressed out. Then get them to breathe quietly for a few minutes as the glitter settles in the jar.
As the glitter settles and they too become calmer, explore the connection between stillness, breathing and feeling calm. Let them know that they can breathe to relax any time they want, with or without their Mind Jar.
Pay a visit to the Zen Den!
We make a series of free videos on YouTube, designed to introduce mindfulness to kids aged 5+.
Our latest video is The Owl and The Guard Dog – which explains why we can sometimes get so stressed that we can’t even think straight – (in brain terms: how the Amygdala sometimes hijacks the Pre-frontal Cortex!)
Go on a sound hunt!
This exercise is about tuning into the senses.
Go for a walk and pause every so often to tune in to your surroundings. What can you hear? Birds tweeting? Dogs barking? Footsteps? Traffic? The wind in the trees? Make a note of everything you hear. This is a great way to get kids to focus on their senses and expand their awareness of their surroundings.
This helps kids to be present and focus on the here and now, the whole point of mindfulness.
Kids love colouring. The intricate shapes and patterns in a mandala are perfect for keeping them absorbed. You could even have a go yourself. There are loads of free mandala downloads available online.
Try out an audio relaxation!
Closing your eyes and relaxing is a wonderful thing…
Peace Out, is our series of guided relaxations for kids. They are all freely available on our YouTube channel.
The main focus of the series is to help kids aged 5+ to learn to enjoy the feeling of relaxation.
Hope you find these useful! There is a growing range of brilliant ideas and resources in the world of mindfulness for kids. A good place to start is to subscribe to our free Cosmic Kids Yoga YouTube channel for new mindfulness and yoga videos every Monday!