Simple Ways to Bring Mindfulness into Kids' – and Parents' – Every Day Life
Tips to help kids become mindful
Last week we talked about some of the many skills we hope our kids develop as they grow, so they can be “successful” and so we can feel like good parents. (If you missed that post, you can read about it here).
This week I offer a list of easy to do suggestions for helping your kids have more mindfulness in their every day lives. These practices will help your child to learn to pause for a moment, catch their breath, and get a sense of what they need, while bringing friendly attention to themselves and others. Beginning to cultivate the seeds of mindfulness/ heartfulness/ presence in young lives will be beneficial in the long run to their success as human beings. It can also be helpful to Parents to calming their own anxieties as they manage the stressors of daily life with work and family, to practice or “play” these activities together with their kids.
And with spring break upon us and summer not too far off, what better time to try out something new and fun?
Here are some ideas for bringing awareness of the present moment into your household or to the children in your life:
- Have kids trace their hands, number the fingers, and breathe in things like peace, happiness, joy, patience, ice cream, while they trace around the odd numbered fingers and then breathe out things like anger, frustration, nervousness as they trace around the even numbered fingers. You can also ask them what they would like to breathe in and out to, as they trace.
- Light and watch a candle flicker and burn.
- Have snail races – who can go from point A to point B in the slowest possible way?
- Watch a snow globe settle after it’s been shaken up, or shake up a jar filled with water and dirt and then watch the mud settle.
- Stop and breathe whenever you think of it. Call it out for everyone to do it randomly throughout the day.
- Have them jump and shake around for a minute as if they were the dirt in the water shaken up. Then stop. And be like the mud in the water settling down. You do it too, with them.
- Talk about highs and lows at dinner time. Let each person have the floor and not be interrupted when it’s their turn.
- Watch a sand timer empty and then turn it over and quietly watch it again.
- Have ‘Time In’ instead of Time Out (for the same number of minutes as their age) where they can sit quietly and look at what’s going on inside of them. Everyone can do it together. No need for something bad to happen first.
- Have a good minute, where you just pay attention to what’s going on right now.
- Teach them to say “I’m feeling…, I need…” and then to ask “What do you need?”
- Dance like seaweed under calm water. Then dance as if a wave is coming over you, and then receding. Then dance calmly again.
- Do a mindful scavenger hunt where they have to pay attention to clues and cues to find something in your household or neighborhood.
- Blow bubbles together and imagine your worries floating away on them and then disappearing.
- Watch a spider spin a web together.
- Watch clouds move across the sky.
- Let your child know what you really cherish, appreciate about them. Actively look for the good. Especially about the child you may have difficulties with or worries about.
- Send friendly thoughts or wishes ‘to be happy’ to others – especially those who might seem grumpy or having a hard time.
- If you or your kids can’t be kind all of the time, teach them to become aware of when they’re not being kind.
- Check out the book “Sitting Still Like a Frog” by Eline Snel, for lots of examples of simple mindfulness practices to help children deal with anxiety, improve concentration and handle difficult emotions. A favorite activity is ‘Your Personal Weather Report’ where kids notice the weather outside and describe it and then describe the weather that they’re feeling inside – stormy, cloudy, sunny, rainy, etc.
Let this list be a start to your own ideas of how to playfully bring Mindfulness into your family’s life.
I’d love to know, what are some of your ideas or frustrations with helping kids to be mindful?
For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.
Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
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