Mindfulness Exercises for Children
By: Jenn Moss
Establishing mindfulness practices as early as childhood can be great for emotional and cognitive development. More and more, mindfulness training is being implemented into the school curriculum, and for good reason. Mindfulness has been linked to self-regulation and self-awareness. For those children who have disruptive behaviors, practicing mindfulness may be a great resource to combat these.
What Exactly is Mindfulness?
This practice involves both an awareness and acceptance of the world around us and our internal experiences. So often our mind brings us to past experiences or the future, and we begin to ruminate over these thoughts. By practicing mindfulness, it allows us to be living in the present moment.
Here are some exercises:
1. Mindful Breathing
Utilizing the mind-body connection, have the child take out their hands in front of them as if they are holding a small ball. On the inhale have them expand their hands as if growing a bigger ball, and on the exhale, bring the hands back in. This method allows kids to have a visual in front of them that they can match their breathing.
2. Mindful Muscle Relaxation
Also known as progressive relaxation, this can be taught to children to relieve tension and stress. It is done by bringing your attention to either the top or bottom of your body. Once you choose a starting point, you then bring your attention to each part of the body, consciously softening your muscles.
3. Kids Yoga
There is a form of yoga that is adapted to be engaging for kids. The poses seek to build strength, flexibility, and coordination, but done in a fun way. Animal sounds may be incorporated, as well as imaginative pose names, and interactive games. By engaging kids in this way, it teaches mindfulness in a way it is approachable for school-aged children.
4. The 5 Senses Method
This is a great thing to incorporate with children, as it serves two purposes. It teaches what the senses are, and it allows for mindfulness. For this, the child will start by noticing something that they can see, for example, a chair, then something they can hear, perhaps a car going by, then something they can taste, perhaps an apple, something to touch, perhaps a soft blanket, then lastly, taking note of something that you smell, like cinnamon.
Studies have shown that incorporating mindfulness is helpful for children with learning disabilities, and emotional disorders. But practicing mindfulness can be beneficial for all kids, helping to stay in the present moment, and become cognitive of feelings.