Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Simple Mindfulness Activities to Teach Kids

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Looking for simple mindfulness activities for kids? These activity ideas are great for teaching mindfulness to kids and for parents.

It seems like everyone is talking about mindfulness these days, doesn't it?

It is more than a buzzword though, I promise. And mindfulness just happens to be a topic that I have been reading quite a bit about lately.

As you probably already know, there are plenty of benefits to teaching yourself and your children mindfulness. Some of those benefits include reducing stress and anxiety levels, teaching self-regulation skills, strengthening self-control, recognizing and understanding the way emotions feel in our bodies, and so much more.

So, if you're been thinking about teaching your kids (or yourself!) some mindfulness strategies, then you'll love these simple mindfulness activities. They are activities that you and your kids can start today.

Looking for simple mindfulness activities for kids? These activity ideas are great for teaching mindfulness to kids and for parents.

A version of this post originally appeared on the CBC Parents website.

But, What is Mindfulness Exactly?

Well, mindfulness is about focusing on the present moment by tuning into our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and what's around us. It's all about being aware of what's happening here and now, slowing down, and calming your mind.

A quote about mindfulness

Getting Started with Mindfulness

One of the great thing about teaching mindfulness is that these types of activities can be practiced anywhere and anytime. You can even do these activities individually or as a group (of any size!). So it's easy to get started.

Lots of teachers have even begun implementing mindfulness into their classrooms, which, I think, is great.

Remember, teaching mindfulness doesn't need to be complicated. It also doesn't involve any fancy tools or apps to get started.

Also, keep in mind that, I'm not expecting you to dive head first into meditation here. Although the benefits of meditation are plentiful and it is worth exploring, but only if you're interested...

Instead, I'm going to show you how to explore emotions, practice deep breathing, and get really good at noticing things so that you and your child can learn to feel more grounded, mindful, calmern and more relaxed. Sounds good, right? Well, let's dig in!

Remember, teaching mindfulness to kids doesn't need to be complicated

Simple Mindfulness Activities to Try

1. Do Some Mindful Breathing

Breathing is a great place to start since it's something we already do automatically, but why not try some mindful breathing? It's as simple as taking a couple of deep breaths a few times each day. You can even schedule deep breathing breaks for you and your child.

A good place to start is by blowing bubbles with your kids. Most (if not all) love playing with bubbles so it's a good way to practice breathing slowly and purposefully. Blow too fast and the bubbles will pop.

I recently came across an idea to pick a trigger word and each time you hear that word throughout the day, you pause and take a couple of deep breaths. The suggested word was "mom" and goodness, could you imagine how many times you would sneak in some mindful breathing every day if you used it as your trigger word?!

Another idea is to use a visual cue to remind you to pause and do some mindful breathing. For example, every time you stop at a red light while driving, encourage your kids to join you as you take a couple of deep breaths.

Here are two other easy deep breathing techniques you could try:

  • Lay down on your back, place a small toy or stuffed animal on your belly, take slow deep breaths, and watch the toy move up as you inhale and down as you exhale.
  • Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest and take a deep breath so you can feel the rise and fall of your chest and belly as you breathe.

You can also use visuals to help practice deep breathing. You can try one of our free deep breathing posters found here. There are lots of different themes to choose from.

Easy deep breathing techniques to try with kids

2. Play Noticing Games

You likely remember playing games like "I spy with my little eye..." on road trips as a child. These types of games are a great way to get started with mindfulness as they encourage you to be aware of what's around you.

You can even switch it up to do "I hear." Instead of describing what you see, describe what you hear. This variation encourages you to focus on tuning into the sounds around you or even inside you.

Another grounding technique is called "Notice 5 Things." You simply look around and name five things that you see. Then encourage your child to do the same. Keep taking turns until you both feel calm and grounded.

Another popular noticing game you could try is the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique that makes use of the five senses. Learn more about how to do that technique here.

Another game you could try is the ABC grounding technique. Basically, you look around and try to name an object you see or hear that starts with as many letters of the alphabet as possible, starting with A and then B, and so on. Grab a free printable here to help you get started.

Other types of noticing games can include going on a sound scavenger hunt (see: counting sounds mindfulness walk) or watching clouds as they move through the sky. There are lots of options.

3. Explore Your Emotions

Mindfulness includes being aware of your emotions and how they feel inside your body. And this is certainly an area that a lot of kids need help with. Okay, maybe some adults too...

One activity you could try is simply naming your emotions. Just stop what you're doing. Pause. Tune into how your body is feeling right now. Then simply announce the feeling out loud. For example, you would just say the word "angry" if that is how you are feeling. Acknowledge the feeling and just allow it to be there. Don't judge or dwell. Just simply allow it to exist.

With kids, it can be helpful to have them look in a mirror when naming emotions. That way they can see their facial expressions and body signals.

4. Start a Gratitude Journal

Starting a gratitude journal is such a great and easy way to get started with mindfulness. It's actually how I got started.

How it works: Every night, you write down three things or people you are grateful for and why.

You can even find free apps that will provide you with prompts if you find this exercise particularly difficult.

I have been keeping a gratitude journal for a number of years and have found it makes a huge difference. It really helps me focus on what was good, positive, and important to me during the day, instead of dwelling on some negative thing that might have ruined my day (or week or month).

Another option is to do a gratitude jar. Grab this free gratitude jar printable to get started.

4 simple mindfulness activities to teach kids

A Quick Recap on Teaching Mindfulness to Kids

As you can see, teaching mindfulness to kids doesn't have to be complicated. You can try:

  • Doing some deep breathing exercises and using visuals to help
  • Playing some noticing games to ground yourself
  • Exploring your emotions by naming them or using a mirror
  • Starting a gratitude journal

So there you have it. A bunch of super simple mindfulness activities that you can start sneaking into your daily routine today.

Looking for simple mindfulness activities for kids? These activity ideas are great for teaching mindfulness to kids and for parents.