Childhood is the perfect time to adopt a life full of habitual mindfulness. Introducing mindful principles and practices to your children’s lives isn’t hard and doesn’t take much extra effort (no doubt there is already a lot to be thinking about)!
Mindfulness is for everyone. Despite this fact, it is primarily marketed at adults. This makes some sense, as the concepts associated with mindfulness are quite complex and require discipline, and adults have a much bigger thirst for self-improvement than children. However, childhood is a time when we are always learning and working out what our values might be. There is no better time! Here we have a list of small activities for you to do with your children and mindful approaches to apply to everyday situations.
1. Make Them Aware
If mindfulness is something you actively engage in yourself, then talk about it! Children absorb information like a sponge, every interaction and every new piece of information goes towards building their personality and the forming of their opinions. Lead by example, if they see that you are doing something, then they will be curious to find out for themselves. If they have questions about meditation, for example, be candid. Explain to them what you are doing and why you are doing it, and invite them to join in.
2. Breathing Bear
This is a simple exercise to get a child to focus on their breath. Closing one’s eyes and noticing one’s breath is a reasonably complex idea, and unlikely to engage a child. Instead, grab their favourite cuddly toy and get them to lie on their back. Place the toy on their stomach and have them watch the toy rise and fall with their breath. This is a brilliant way to get your child to engage with their breath and become familiar with how to observe it.
3. Mindful Eating
We all eat every day. A healthy relationship with food is extremely important, so there is good reason to educate your children about how to eat mindfully. The practices found HERE are easy to apply to any meal or snack time.
4. Snow Globe
This is a calming, mindful and focussed activity. Grab a snow globe, shake it up and watch as the chaos of the storm within the globe settles into total stillness. This exercise has a magical effect and is especially wonderful in times of great stress or upset.
However, how many people have a snow globe sitting around the house anymore? Not many, I would fancy. So, make your own! This in itself can be a mindful and creative task. Take an old jar or bottle, and dig out any crafty, glittery bits and pieces you might have lying around your home. Fill the container up to around a quarter with sequins, glitter, colourings and titbits, and then top up with water.
5. Noticing Walk
A perfect way to use the school run as an opportunity for mindfulness. On the walk to school (or any walk, for that matter) designate one minute for silence and noticing. Ask the children to listen and look at the world around them and ask them to see if they can find one thing that they have never noticed before. This practice helps to centre them and switch on their awareness as they prepare for a day of learning.
6. Single Object Focus
Get your child to close their eyes and hand them an object. Any small object will do; a ball, a feather, a toy, a cup, a shoe, a leaf. Ask them to describe the object as experienced simply through touch, no peeking allowed! This exercise can also be done with eyes open. In this case you would ask the child to inspect the object and describe specifically what they can see; colours, textures, materials and other minor details.
This is similar to the exercise above, but this time we add attention to the breath. Give the child something particularly fragrant such as a flower, some orange peel or some fresh bread. They must close their eyes and breathe in the scent of the object through their nose, focussing only on what the object smells like.
This is a great calming down exercise for when the children are getting a bit too manic or hyped up. Get them to run around for a while, if they aren’t already, and then bring them to the floor. Place their hand on their heart, and ask them to feel their heartbeat, notice their breath and whether their body is doing anything else of note. A great practice in both being present and calming down!
By Chris Thomson
If your kids are pretty ‘hands-on’, then why not take a look at some ways to take on mindfulness in a more tactile way: Use Your Hands: A Tactile Approach to Mindfulness
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