Many of us use mindfulness in our everyday lives to minimize anxiety, relieve stress, and get ourselves through difficult moments. However, children can benefit from learning mindfulness techniques as well.
According to Psychology Today, mindfulness and meditation have several benefits for children, including lowered social anxiety and stress, improved cognitive control and memory, improved attentiveness and impulse control, and learning how to stay calm.
How to encourage mindfulness in your child
As with anything your child learns, it’s most effective to start small, be patient, and take it slowly. There are many different ways to practice mindfulness, and it may take some experimentation to find the one that works best for your child.
Mindfulness activities for children
Try the following activities to help your child practice mindfulness:
- Help your child focus on taking deep breaths by having them lie on their back with a favorite stuffed animal on their belly. As they breathe in and out, they can focus on the stuffed animal rising and falling with their breath.
- Enjoy a nature walk in relative silence. Instead of talking or running, listen quietly to the sounds of birds, animals, water, and wind.
- Ask your child to tell you what things they notice around them, and do the same in return. If possible, incorporate the five senses into this observation.
- Take some time each day to share with each other what you’re most grateful for that day. For a young child it can be something as simple as playing with their best friend or getting to eat their favorite snack.
- Encourage your child to write down or draw their feelings daily, without judgement.
- Take a break to stretch with your child, and notice the sensations you feel with each different stretch.
- Try a “Spider-Man Meditation,” designed to help children focus and tune in to their senses.
- Model mindfulness. For example, let your child see you discussing your emotions calmly, or sitting quietly and taking deep, relaxing breaths.
Mindfulness is a skill that the entire family can practice together. It’s an ideal way to bond, create memories, and enjoy the benefits that it brings.