Mindfulness is for kids too!

            Mindfulness, or the practice of being present in the moment, is not just for adults, it’s for kids too! Children experience stress, sadness, and frustration, as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression, just like adults do. Often times, children have difficulty identifying and expressing their emotions, as well as regulating the emotions that they experience. Why practice mindfulness? It has shown, through research, to reduce stress, improve focus and it even helps kids regulate their emotions. Parents, if you are looking for a way to describe mindfulness to your children and to begin practicing with them, you have reached the right place! Try describing mindfulness to your children as noticing what is happening right now, using all five of your senses. Perhaps make a game out of it by asking them to identify their five sense by pointing to the parts of their body that they experience each sense or singing a song about the five senses. Here are some fun ways that children can begin practicing mindfulness in order to manage stressful experiences. 

1)    Mindfulness activity using the 5 senses

a.     Start by going outside and sitting in a comfortable position. Ask your child to take in a deep breath through their nose, to the count of 4, just like they are smelling a delicious cup of hot chocolate. Hold for a few second and then breathe out through their mouth, like they are blowing on the hot chocolate to cool it down.

b.     Take 5 slow breaths together

c.     Next, explain that you will be paying special attention to each of your five senses for the next few minutes and ask

                                               i.     What are three things that you hear?

                                             ii.     Look around for 1 minute and list all of the things that you see, noticing things that you may not have noticed before.

                                            iii.     What are three things that you feel?

                                            iv.     Pay attention to the smell of the outdoors, what do you smell?

                                             v.     Stick your tongue out, do you taste anything? See if they come up with anything.

d.     Talk about what this experience was like. Have them identify at least one feeling.

 

2)    Body Scan (Bertin, 2016)

a.     Ask your child to lie down on their back in a comfortable position

b.     Then ask them to take a deep breath, with their hand on their belly, and notice how it feels

c.     Now focus your attention on your feet. How do they feel? Are they cold or warm, restless or relaxed? Try and relax them by scrunching your toes as tight as you can and releasing. Ask them to notice how that feels

d.     Then ask them to be as still as possible and remind them to focus on their feet if their mind starts to wander

e.     Then ask them to move to focusing on their legs, knees, upper legs, belly, chest, hands, arms, back, neck, shoulders, face, and head, stopping at each part and asking them to notice how each feels. Focus on trying to relax each body part by tightening each muscle and then releasing them. If they are having difficulty relaxing them, let them know that it’s okay. Simply pay special attention to how your body is feeling

f.      Finally, ask them to spend a few moments paying attention to their whole body, or for younger children focus on breathing

g.     After another couple of minutes, talk about what that experience was like for them. Have them identify at least one emotion after the activity. Did their thoughts or emotions change?

3)    Go on a “safari” walk

a.     Simply take your child on a fun and adventurous walk around your neighborhood

b.     On the walk, ask them to be a detective and notice all the animals, bugs, trees, and leaves as they possibly can!

4)     Blowing bubbles

a.     Have your child focus on their breath as they breathe in and slowly breath out to blow a bubble

b.     Encourage them to pay special attention to the bubble. What do they notice about the bubble? Are there any colors? What size is it? What shape it? Which way is it floating away?

5)    Smell and Tell (Roman, 2015)

a.     Ask your child to close their eyes and give them a piece of a fresh orange peel, lavender, or a flower.

b.     Ask them to focus all of their attention on smelling the scent

c.     Are they able to guess what the object is?

d.     Discuss what this experience was like for them. Have them identify at least one emotion.

 

Written by: Rachel Ealy, M.Ed

Rachel is a counselor at Heights Family Counseling. She believes that counseling should be for everyone because everyone could use extra support, a place to define purpose and values, and tools to use to tackle life’s everyday problems, as well as someone to support your successes in life. Rachel specializes in working with children, adolescents, young adults, and couples. Learn more about Rachel's counseling approach by visiting https://heightsfamilycounseling.com/amy-rollo/

 

Resources:

Bertin, M. (2016, October 12). Body scan for kids. Retrieved from

https://www.mindful.org/body-scan-kids/

Roman, K. (2015, April 2). 7 fun ways to teach your kids mindfulness. Retrieved from

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-18136/7-fun-ways-to-teach-your-kids-mindfulness.html