We are in stressful times. Today’s families have more on their plate than ever before and are consistently pushed to their limits. We see our friends’ relationships suffer. We hear our doctors say we are overworked, and we notice that our children are exhausted. Unfortunately, we can’t stop time, make the Earth move more slowly, or make all our responsibilities disappear. Gallivanting down Target’s aisles is a great distraction (seriously), but what modern humans need is space to just be.
Mindfulness has been hashtagged all over Instagram, but what does it actually mean and how can we share its benefits with our children?
Simply put, mindfulness is living in the here and now, without wishing it were different, and without judging our own morality on how we experience the present! It takes practice, but the good news is that there are so many fun and practical ways to build mindfulness activities into your day that will transform your mindset. Read ahead for fun ways to share mindfulness techniques with your kiddo (really!).
Taking a full breath can radically change your mood and make you feel better. This is especially important for children who have trouble regulating their emotions, which is almost all kids at some point in their lives!
One way to teach children to breathe deeply is by blowing bubbles. Not only is this a tactile experience when they can see the effect of their breath, you can encourage them to be mindful of the process by helping them notice the size, amount, or color of the bubbles . Ask how they feel in their body [when they blow bubbles].
It is critical that we engage in physical activity. Every parent already knows this. Keeping up with your little one almost requires a marathon runner’s stamina, right? So, make your daily movement something you and your child can do together.
One of my favorite mindful movement ideas is to go on a “scavenger hunt” walk. I love handing over a little magnifying glass to my kids and letting them be Sherlock. I help them detect the small things on our walk, like little ladybugs on leaves, the way the wind feels on our skin, or the faint call of geese. Noticing our surroundings and taking joy in the environment builds an appreciation for moving a little more slowly.
There are so many games you can play with your child to build body awareness and mindfulness. My children, and my students, beg me to play “Yogi/Simon says” all the time. Some other playful ideas are hopscotch, doing crafts, particularly finger painting and stringing beads, and “I spy.” Be sure not to rush through this time together and allow your inner child to emerge so that you get the full experience of living in the moment.
It’s so underrated in mindfulness talks, but sharing that rest and sleep are important for us is a powerful lesson for kids. It can be really hard to turn our minds and bodies off and leave the fun day behind!
One way that I love to help my kiddos calm down and rest is through guided meditations while they breathe with a stuffie on their belly. Sometimes, I might read a book, but other times I encourage them to blow their belly up so big that their stuffed toy goes up and down like ocean waves. Help them become aware of how their body is feeling tired and to notice how nice they feel as they rest. Cuddle up with them and notice how you feel too.
Mindfulness isn’t hard as it seems! I hope you find these tips valuable as you journey with your family into a more peaceful and calm day-to-day life.