It can be challenging for children to navigate their emotions, particularly when they don’t have the vocabulary to express how they are feeling. Whether they are stressed, overtired or excited, Mindfulness is a great tool that you can practice with your children anywhere and everywhere. It has shown to improve self regulation, focus, performance and decrease levels of stress.
Keep reading for a few easy and on the go mindfulness activities for you to try with your children.
Ask your child to hold out their hand. You can start at the bottom of their thumb and trace up and around each finger gently. Remind them to breathe in and out whilst you are tracing each finger and concentrate on the feeling of their hand.
For children who are easily distracted or overwhelmed this can be a great exercise to redirect their attention to the present moment and calm them. After the exercise make sure to ask them how they are feeling, what they noticed and when they may want to try this again in future.
Begin by demonstrating a slow clapping rhythm and ask your child to join in. Start changing the rhythm slightly to keep their focus. Their hands should be close to their face so they can concentrate on them. Make sure to ask them what sensations they are feeling on their hands. Is it tickling? Are they tingling?
The purpose of this exercise is to create a sensation that they can focus on. Again, shifting their attention to the present moment.
Get the child to imagine they are smelling a colourful flower that they have just picked from their garden. Ask them to breathe in through their nose and out their mouth as if they are smelling their imaginary flower. This is a simple way to connect children to their breath, focus and use their imagination.
Ask your child to breathe in through their nose with a long deep inhale, and out the mouth on a hissing sound, slow and long. You can start by demonstrating and getting them to join in. Repeat this for a few breaths before asking them how they are feeling. By getting them to extend their exhale this will allow them to slow down their inner speed and help them learn to slow themselves down, mentally and physically.
Ask your child for 3 quick inhales through their nose and one long exhale out the nose. Make this activity fun by asking them to pretend to be bunnies, sniffing around for their bunny friends. You can use this exercise for occasions when your child is upset and out of breath. It will help them connect to their breath and slow down instead of prolonging the tantrum.
These are a few of the many simple and effective exercises you can put into practice with your children (and even by yourself!). As an adult, you play a significant role in helping children understand their feelings and behaviours.
Make sure that when practising these or any other mindfulness activities, keep an open line of communication. Probe on how your children are feeling throughout, any questions they have and whether they want to continue. Discussing both physical and emotional sensations can help them process what they are experiencing and continue to develop the skills they need to manage their emotions effectively.
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