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I’ve been seeing the topic of mindfulness and meditation come up for kids more frequently in recent years. For a while now, when I’ve worked with kids, I’ve talked about different coping skills and how they can help, and I’ve become more and more interested in gathering some information about mindfulness and using it with my own children and with my clients.
What is Mindfulness?
Put in the simplest terms, mindfulness is being aware of what’s happening in the present moment. It’s not about trying to clear your mind, but allowing thoughts and emotions to come and go without judgment and familiarizing ourselves with the present moment. It takes practice to be able to do this.
In his TED Talk on Mindfulness, Andy Puddicombe uses a metaphor of juggling to go through some typical reactions to mindfulness, such as getting anxious about being anxious, intrusive thoughts coming in over and over again. He normalizes these experiences and encourages people to keep trying.
Why should we teach it to kids?
Mindfulness can be a helpful tool for kids who have challenges with self-regulation or difficulty managing emotions, or want to improve their concentration. it would be helpful for them to be able to calm down and be aware of the present. When they are aware of the present, it will help them be more able to see what’s happening around them and settle themselves and their minds. What a great way to raise a resilient child!
To teach Mindfulness to kids, work on your own mindfulness first
The first recommendation I saw frequently was for adults to work on their own mindfulness. I’ve been trying to be mindful on a regular basis, by going on mindful walks or taking a few minutes when I’m laying in bed at night.
Work together as a family on mindfulness, at the child’s pace.
Introduce exercises when things are calm and your child is in a good space. Try to do some mindfulness activities as a family. It could be a great way to connect with one another. Keep the time short, especially if your child is on the younger side.
Mindfulness Exercises to try:
A great list of audio exercises for kids, including one called Sleep Tight. I’ve used that one with my own daughter.
There are several scripts available from the InnerKids program. I had my daughter try the calming one before she did her homework. She loved it.
Here are a couple of kids activities for mindfulness and feelings. Kristina has also written a book to help kids with mindfulness, Ursula Unwinds Her Anger. My son loved reading through this book with me. He loved looking at the different colors and figuring out what feeling was associated with what color.
I found this resource in Bloom Parenting by Dr. Lynne Kenney and Wendy Young, LMSC, BCD. What a helpful collection of meditation and mindfulness scripts.
My kids love superheroes. This is a great way to use that interest to work on increasing their focus and awareness.
These scripts are specifically designed for use in classrooms, but could also be used at home.
I love these ideas for different nature walk activities you can do. The next time I go on a walk with my family, I plan to make part of it a mindful walk. But I also know that I can’t expect the kids to be mindful for a full 60 minute walk. We’ll try to be mindful on the walk for short bursts of time, just a couple of minutes here and there.
Looking for some more ideas to introduce mindfulness to kids? Check out:
Books I’m reading on Mindfulness:
Sitting Still Like a Frog by Eline Snel
Looking for more ideas and products to teach your child coping skills?
Take a look at our sister site, Coping Skills for Kids!
This post is part of the Raising Resilient Children series. Click the image below to find more tips from mental health professionals.