Mindfulness for Children

Mindfulness practice is a way to deal with stressors, increase emotional regulation, and achieve inner balance.  Most articles about meditation in the news focus on how this simple activity can help adults feel more centered, but mindfulness should be taught to our children as well.

You can think of Mindfulness as a way to observe our inner selves and the sensory world around us. Our kids are very scheduled and many demands are put upon them. Mindfulness can give them the ability to take a step back and enjoy the moment. It strengthens creativity, thought processes and emotional regulation. It is a powerful skill that once taught will be a part of their coping toolkit for life.

Keep in mind that the best way to teach mindfulness to children is for parents and caregivers to model it. Sharing the world in a sensory way (e.g. what you see, smell, hear, touch, and taste) with your child will go a long way to make him/her an observer of feelings and sensations—a great first step to being mindful and to healthy emotional regulation. Here are some other simple and child friendly meditation scripts to get started:
Breathing exercise:

    • Sit comfortably, close your eyes. Imagine your tummy is a balloon. Inhale through your nose and inflate the balloon. Exhale through your mouth and deflate the balloon.

    • Repeat this activity daily and try to increase the duration every time.

    • Some children find it helpful to have a stuffed animal placed on their tummy, this way they can see it go up when they inhale and going down when they exhale.

Happy Place:

    • Make sure your child is comfortable, laying down on a bed, floor or beanbag. Read the prompts slowly allowing for the thought process to take place.

    • Close your eyes and think of a place that makes you truly calm and happy. What is it? Where is it? Can you see it in your mind? Are there other people? Who are they? Can you describe them? Take your time, look around taking in all the details of your happy place. Do you hear sounds in your happy place? What type of sounds? Are there voices? Take your time and listen to the sounds all around you. Are there smells you recognize in your place? What does it smell like? If you move around, are you walking? Are you running? How does your body move there? Does it float around effortlessly? Are you flying? How do you feel moving around this place of yours? Take your time and explore this calming place of yours and enjoy the feelings it gives you.

    • As a follow up activity have them draw a picture of their happy place.

 

For additional articles and ideas on this subject, check out the following resources:
http://www.pinterest.com/labergh/mindfulness-for-kids/
http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/tips_for_teaching_mindfulness_to_kids
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/12/mindful-children-parenting-carla-naumburg_n_3907978.html

 

 

 

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