With the hustle and bustle of jam-packed schedules, it can be hard for kids to learn mindfulness and to stay calm and present in the moment. It might feel even harder to carve out time to try to teach them! But mindfulness doesn’t have to be sitting on a pillow cross-legged with your eyes closed. And it doesn’t have to be complicated or last a long time. Mindfulness can be practiced everywhere.
Here are six simple activities that you can try with your kids to teach them mindfulness – even if it’s just a couple minutes a day!
1. Blow Bubbles: Most people (kids and adults alike!) enjoy blowing bubbles. This activity helps create mindfulness because kids naturally focus on the act of blowing the bubbles, watching them as they float, and then chasing after them. It’s also a great mindfulness activity because controlling breath is a natural part of this activity. By using focus and attending to the bubble, children notice what is present to them at that moment. I often tell parents that blowing bubbles is a useful way to create mental space for both a parent and child so they can take a moment before responding or talking about challenging situation.
2. Create a Glitter Jar: Half of the fun of this activity is creating the glitter jar – it’s like a science experiment! A glitter jar allows the child to focus their attention and notice the colors and the movement of the glitter. I think of this activity as a metaphor for the mind settling.
To make the jar:
• Find an old water bottle or jar
• Pick out your glitter – you can use one color or several
• Line the bottom with glitter
• Add warm water almost to the top
• Fill the rest with tacky glue
• Seal the bottle with duct tape
• Shake the bottle and watch the glitter settle.
3. Go on a Treasure Hunt: A treasure hunt doesn’t have to be a quest for gold. You can choose something in nature and look for it with your child. It can be anything from pinecones to clovers in the grass to a squirrel or bird. Make sure to pick something that’s not too hard to find in your neighborhood. This teaches mindfulness because the child has to be aware of the things around him.
4. Make a Grab Bag: Put five items in a bag and let your child reach in and pick one. Have them keep their eyes closed and feel and smell it to try to figure out what the object is. Once they open their eyes, have them notice the color and texture of the object. You can put anything in the bag, from basil leaves to squishy balls.
5. Mindful Coloring: Mindful coloring is basically just repetitive coloring. However, the act of coloring is very meditative and mindful. It helps to have a mindful space to color, such as on the couch or a special spot in your child’s bedroom. However, sometimes the mindful coloring books can be frustrating for kids, so make sure your child picks a book they’ll enjoy.
6. Listen to Bells: For this activity, use a bell or a bell app, such as Mindbell. Ring the bell and have your child listen to the sound until they can’t hear it anymore. Having to listen to and focus on the sound is a mindful act. Remember to practice breathing as you listen.
It’s important to note:
• Parents should do these activities with their kids! It’s good for the kids to see their parents practicing mindfulness, and it’s good for the parents to add a little extra mindfulness into their day.
• Mindfulness can be cumulative throughout the day. You can start by adding a couple of minutes of blowing bubbles in the morning and slowly adding more throughout the day.
• Breathing is the foundation of mindfulness and should be incorporated throughout these activities. Have your child place their hand on their belly and feel it as it rises as they breathe in and falls as the exhale. This is called belly breathing and can be somewhat challenging for adults and children, so remind your child that, just like a sport or creative activity, practice is necessary.
Want more ways to connect with your kids through mindfulness or other tactics? A therapy session might be a helpful way to develop parenting strategies. Contact me today to make an appointment!