Do your children seem lost in the clouds? Kids have a lot to think about these days, especially with the increasing pressure to get straight As and fill their schedules with extracurricular activities. All these expectations can pile on the stress, which makes it difficult to control their emotions and stay grounded in their immediate surroundings.
Mindfulness is the key to helping kids navigate school and their social lives. But more importantly, staying mindful helps children live in the moment and remain calm during stressful situations. Learn more about the benefits of mindfulness and how to practice it with your child.
Benefits of mindfulness for kids
Mindfulness offers social, cognitive and emotional benefits for children. Practicing mindfulness on a daily basis can improve a child’s overall sense of wellbeing and set them up for success later in life. Here are just a few reasons to teach your child about mindfulness.
- Reduced stress: Kids encounter many stressors in their home and school environments. They might argue with friends or feel pressure to get high test scores. Mindfulness teaches kids to focus on the present moment while letting go of worrisome thoughts about the past or future. They learn to calm their minds by getting in touch with their breathing and immediate surroundings.
- Keep emotions in check: Negative emotions can easily take hold. Anger, jealousy and sadness can cloud a child’s judgment, causing them to act in unhealthy ways. Mindfulness doesn’t get rid of these emotions. Instead, the activity teaches children how to manage their emotions in response to upsetting situations. They’ll learn to accept these emotions and let them pass, which helps them stay calm and maintain healthy relationships with their peers.
- Better focus in the classroom: Children who practice mindfulness can pay attention for longer periods of time in school. Mindfulness is all about focusing on the here and now, which is crucial for doing well in their classes. A longer attention span allows kids to learn more from their teachers and earn higher scores on tests and homework assignments.
Fun ways to practice mindfulness
Parents should choose mindfulness activities that engage their children. Some kids can tolerate sitting with their eyes closed, but many prefer to move their bodies and play fun games. Check out these kid-friendly mindfulness activities to help your child live in the moment.
- Deep breathing with bubbles: Make breathing exercises a bit more interesting by letting your child blow bubbles in the yard. Instruct them to take a deep breath, hold it in for a few seconds and slowly exhale through a bubble wand. Help your child pay close attention to how the bubbles form and float in the air. You can do this same activity indoors with a pinwheel, observing how it starts and stops with each breath.
- The sensory guessing game: Tap into each of the five senses by asking your child to identify a food or object. Have the child close their eyes, then offer them a tasty food like pretzels or blueberries. Your child has to use their sense of taste to guess what type of food it is. Another version of this game involves placing small objects in a bag, then asking the child to guess them only through touch. Engaging the senses helps children focus on a single task rather than getting distracted by their thoughts.
- Mindfulness with a glitter jar: This activity combines arts and crafts with teaching your child about emotions. Fill a glass jar with water, then add a small amount of glue and dry glitter. Shake the closed jar like a snow globe and explain how thoughts become clouded by a torrent of negative emotions. As the glitter settles to the bottom, your child will learn that staying calm helps them act with a clear head.
- Mindful nature walk: Children don’t have to sit still to practice mindfulness! Go for a walk in your kid’s favorite outdoor spot, then ask them to observe all the insects and animals they can find. Nature walks connect children with the physical environment, which pulls them away from nervous or anxious thoughts. This is a great way to practice mindfulness, because children can get in touch with their surroundings wherever they go.
Mindfulness isn’t just for adults. Children are capable of learning how to alleviate stress, focus better and respond to upsetting situations in an appropriate manner. Meditation isn’t their only option, either! Fun mindfulness activities can help your child implement a daily habit that helps them succeed now and in the future.