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These last few years have been difficult for everyone, especially our kids. They’ve had to cope with changing dynamics at school, bouncing between home and socially distanced school. Things are now just returning to a new normal. However, they still feel the increased pressures school places on them, along with world events and their home life.
Whether your children are struggling with anxiety or depression or they simply need to relax and refocus, you can do plenty to help. These simple and fun mindfulness activities for kids will help your child recenter in a world that often feels like it’s falling apart.
1. Breathe With a Buddy
Taking deep, controlled breaths is a great way to release other thoughts and ground yourself in the present. Kids sometimes struggle to slow down this much, so giving them a buddy can help. Have them lay on the floor and take slow, deep breaths.
Place a favorite stuffed animal on their tummy so they can watch it go up and down. You could also have them lay their head on your stomach to feel what it’s like when you take deep breaths.
2. Blow Bubbles
What kid doesn’t love blowing bubbles outside on a beautiful sunny day? Give your children an assortment of bubble wands and a bottle of solution and let them go to town.
Ask them to describe the size and color of the bubbles and talk about their smell and how fast or slow they’re blowing. Plus, all the blowing will help them practice their intentional breathing.
3. Go on a Nature Walk
Kids today spend so much of their time indoors. They go to school, come home to do homework and go to lessons, leaving minimal time to go outside. Even in those little bits of free time, nature has to compete with indoor toys and technology.
Make going outside a family tradition. Hit a nature trail or favorite park. Practice using all your senses as you explore. Search for animal tracks, smell fresh flowers, feel the grass on your toes and listen to the sound of birds.
4. Try Beginner’s Yoga or Meditation
Yoga and meditation are both well-studied mindfulness activities for kids, but getting young kids to focus on them long enough to do any good can feel like pulling teeth.
However, you don’t need to enroll them in a class or take on teaching them all by yourself. Youtube is full of free guided sessions designed specifically for kids. Cosmic Kids is an absolute favorite channel for parents, teachers and kids alike, and they’re just one good example.
5. Practice Gratitude
Being thankful for what you have right now makes past and future challenges seem less important. Help your child practice daily gratitude to remind them of the good things in their life.
While you get ready in the morning, on the way home from school or daycare, or when tucking them into bed each night are ideal times to talk about a few things you each are thankful for.
6. Make Mindful Fidget Toys
Often, kids feel like their heads get “messy” — they can’t figure out what’s bothering them, only that they can’t control their feelings or gain focus. In these instances, mindful fidget toys can come in really handy.
A clear bottle filled with water, glitter and other fun objects is an excellent representation of your child’s mental state. They can shake or swirl it to make it messy and then watch the settling effect holding still has on the ingredients.
Another option is to make their own sensory stress balls. Use a balloon as your base and funnel in an interesting tactile ingredient like sand, beads, shaving cream or rice. They can squeeze and release the ball while breathing to control their emotional responses.
If your child enjoys art, coloring is a fantastic activity to help them express themselves and stay in the moment. They can use crayons on blank paper or use a favorite coloring book. As they color, have them talk out their process. What will they draw? How do the crayons feel in their hand and on the paper? How do they choose which color to use?
8. Talk It Out
It’s incredible how much a simple conversation can help you direct your thoughts and feelings in the right direction. With the right topics, you can become more aware of your inner monologue, change negative thinking patterns and put names to your emotions.
Having honest conversations with your kids can have the same effect on them. You might be amazed at what they have to say.
9. Read Books about Mindfulness
Kids love when you read to them, and you can’t beat the benefits of this activity. Double down on the advantages by reading books dealing with mindfulness topics. A few good examples to get you started are “Puppy Mind” by Andrew Jordan Nance, “I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness” by Susan Verde and “Here and Now” by Julia Denos.
10. Listen to Calming Music
Music has a profound effect on mental health and your mood at the moment. Share the wonderful experience with your kids. Play calm ambient or classical music to engender peace. Play upbeat music and dance around for a fun and happy mood. You can even try mournful-sounding music to express sadness.
Open a conversation about how each type of music makes them feel and see which is their favorite.
11. Repeat Daily Mantras
The right mantras can take your child from anxious and frazzled to a place of self-confidence and reassurance. Create powerful sayings that target some of your kid’s worst anxieties, turning them into positives. Help them repeat these mantras every morning to start their day with the right intentions and mindset.
Just a Few Minutes Is All It Takes
As with your own mindfulness practice, this only needs to take a few minutes to be effective. Each day spare a moment to work on one of the mindfulness activities for kids with your own children. You’ll all feel calmer, and you’ll strengthen the bond between you.
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