Teaching Mindfulness to Kids
Mindfulness is a practice that takes time and patience to incorporate into your daily life. In addition, it is not just for adults. Teaching your children to practice mindfulness will not only help them with day to day stresses but will make the practice of it second nature so that as they grow up, they will handle the things life throws at them with more ease!
The trick when teaching kids about mindfulness and how to practice it is to keep them engaged and active in it.
Here at New Leaf Counseling, we have created a list of ways to keep your kids engaged while not forcing them to do things they don't want to do.
Start With Positive Thoughts
One of the easiest ways to bring mindfulness to your kids is to start with gratitude. For example, at the end of the day consider having your children come up with one thing they are were thankful for in the day. You can take this a step further by having them write it down and put it into a thankfulness jar or gratitude jar. At the end of the year, they can see how many things they were thankful for which can spur them to practice more positive thinking.
You will be surprised at how quick your kids catch on and how willing they will be to offer up gratitude throughout the day.
It will also hold you accountable to practice this yourself because if you want to cultivate gratitude in your home, your kids will be watching how you express it as well.
Consider adapting breathing and meditation as part of your daily routine. You could practice this by going on a morning walk with your kids and teaching them breathing techniques- this could become a part of your daily routine, one that every member of your family will anticipate.
You can encourage helpful breathing techniques when your kids are waiting for things.
For example, while your kids wait for breakfast, they can work on their breathing. You could also incorporate this as something your kids should do after school. They could put their books down, and sit for a few moments, just being quiet and breathing. Instead of rushing into the next activity of the day, this could help them slow down, sort out their day and remove negative thoughts they may be having. Some of our favorite breathing techniques for kids include:
Tummy Breathing: Lie on the floor and place a small stuffed animal on your stomach. Breathe in deeply through your nose and slowly exhale through your mouth. Watch the stuffed animal move rise and fall on your stomach while you practice your breathing.
Elephant Breathing: Stand with your feet wide apart and your arms dangling in front of your body like an elephant’s trunk. As you breathe in deeply through your nose, raise your arms up high above your head. Then, slowly swing your arms down again as you breathe out through your mouth.
Bubble Breathing: Sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Imagine you are holding a bubble wand. Breathe in deeply and then, as you breathe out slowly and gently, imagine you are blowing bubbles into the room. As you keep breathing slowly and blowing your imaginary bubbles, feel your body become calm and relaxed.
Healthy Options for Anger
One huge benefit of mindfulness with anyone, including children, is that it gives them a healthy way to process their anger. If they are frustrated over school, a fight with a friend, or something else, consider having them take a walk or meditate. At the time they may not want to do it, but eventually, it will turn because they will experience this coping mechanism as a way to help with reducing anger in the moment and stress later.
By incorporating these techniques into your daily life with your kids, you can keep them engaged in mindfulness. Before long, you will find that your kids are practicing it without your guidance and input.
You will also find that it becomes part of their daily lives just like brushing their teeth and combing their hair.
We would love to hear how practicing mindfulness with your family is going! Follow us on Instagram and leave a comment, letting us know how you and your kids are responding to mindfulness as well as any specific ways you are having your kids practice it!