Mindfulness for kids: our favorite resource
How can I teach my child to be kinder and more considerate of other people’s feelings? What will help my students focus more in the classroom? Please just tell me something that will help my kids calm down! If you’ve ever said any of these things, I encourage you to explore mindfulness for kids.
A growing body of research suggests that mindfulness helps people of all ages lessen stress, increase focus, become more compassionate, and improve their relationships. What teacher or parent doesn’t want that?
So, what exactly does mindfulness for kids look like? In the words of Whitney Stewart, author of Mindful Kids, “mindfulness means paying attention, with kindness and patience, to what’s going on inside and outside of you right now.”
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Our Favorite Mindfulness for Kids Resource
If you want to start practicing mindfulness with children, or just have more support as you continue teaching mindfulness, I high recommend the Mindful Kids activity deck!
It includes 50 activities that help children develop focus, calm, and kindness. The activities can be done with children as young as 4 years old, and they’re also well suited to teenagers and adults.
The activities are divided into 5 categories. The first set are Start Your Day activities to help children feel strong, focused, and confident in the mornings. For example, the Cloud Burst activity helps children overcome a grumpy mood. The Words to Yourself activity helps children work through fears about trying something new.
The second set center on Finding Calm and learning how to handle challenging feelings. The Shake the Sillies out activity is ideal for those times when kids need to release their squirmy-ness. The Power of Blue activity helps children soothe their hurt feelings.
The third set helps kids strengthen their Focus and sharpen their awareness of their senses. Mental Snapshot helps children strengthen their memories. The Wise Old Owl activity helps children make challenging decisions.
The fourth set encouraging kids to Open their Hearts so that they can accept life with kindness. The Sharing Friendship activity helps children spread compassion in their world. The Sitting With It activity helps ease minor aches and pains.
The final set are Rest and Relaxation activities that help children reflect and ease their busy minds. Animal Dance helps kids get the wiggles out before bedtime. The Rain Shower activity helps children wash away their busy thoughts.
Below, I share a few of the activities that are included in the deck that you can try right now.
Each card includes step by step instructions that kids can easily follow. I love that the illustrations are of culturally diverse children. The introduction to the deck and some of the cards also include ideas for modifying the activities for children with a range of physical abilities.
Three Mindfulness for Kids Activities to Try
Safekeeping Activity: When Children Are Worried
If your child tends to unload her worries at bedtime like my little boy does, I encourage you to try the safekeeping activity from Mindful Kids.
Learning to Take Mindful Breaths
Breathing is the foundation of mindfulness, so I love that one of the cards in Mindful Kids focuses simply on how to take mindful breaths first thing in the morning.
1. Sit mindfully, with your spine straight and your body relaxed.
2. Every morning, notice your breathing. Take three soft, slow, mindful breaths and feel them in your body.
3. Breathe in and feel air coming into your nose. Does it feel soft in your nostrils? Breathe out and count one.
4. Breathe in and notice air filling your lungs. Does your ribcage go out? Breathe out and count two.
5. Breathe in and see the air expanding your middle. Does your tummy look round like a ball? Breathe out and count three.
6. Repeat for two more round of breathing into your nose, lungs, and tummy. Breathe mindfully to feel awake and ready for the day.
Finding Focus through Open Ears Group Activity
Mindfulness practices like the Open Ears activity help children become more focused and attentive by experiencing their senses more deeply. This group activity trains children’s ears and brains to work together.
For this activity, you’ll need at least two people, plus a bell, chime, or something that makes a ringing sound.
1. Sit mindfully in a circle, with spines straight and bodies relaxed.
2. Choose a leader. The others close their eyes and take three soft, slow, mindful breaths.
3. The leader rings the bell or chime.
4. Listeners, pay attention to the sound. Notice how it fills the room. Raise your hand when the sound is gone.
5. Put down your hand and focus all your attention on the other sounds you hear, close by and far away.
6. The leader gives you time to listen and rings the bell again to signal listeners to open their eyes. Talk about the sounds you heard.
Mind and Body: Practicing Yoga with Children
Yoga is another fun way to help children calm and strengthen their minds and bodies at the same time.
The poses in this free booklet are taken from the Yoga Pretzels activity deck, which has a similar format to Mindful Kids.
In fact, you can save when you buy both decks together with the Barefoot Books Mind and Body gift set.