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In the fast-pace of technology, multitasking, overscheduling, “more is better” lifestyles, fewer children are having time (and permission) to JUST BE. I know my family is guilty of this too. We have our five children in so many activities and with our work schedules, it makes it difficult to slow down unless we are intentional and deliberate. It’s important to begin the practice of mindfulness early and often with our children in order to build their “mindfulness muscle”. There have been countless studies conducting in peer-reviewed journals that speak positively about the benefits of mindfulness practice in children.
- Improves Attention
- Improves Focus (helps children with ADHD)
- Helps kids regulate their emotions
- Sharpens skills in conflict-resolution
- Increase their ability to empathized and have commission for others (seems others’ perspective)
- Decreases stress & Depression
- Lowers test anxiety & can improve grades
Children’s literature is a great way for younger children to have access to a mindfulness practice. If you are trying to teach mindfulness and meditation to your younger children, check out these books!
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A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles by Thich Nhat Hanh
Pebble meditation is a lighthearted and enjoyable exercise, created by Zen Master Thick Nhat Hanh, to introduce children to meditation. It is designed to involve children in a hands-on and creative way that allows them to practice being present. Practicing pebble meditation can help relieve stress, increase concentration, nourish gratitude, and can help children deal with overwhelming emotions.
Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lee Maclean
Peaceful Piggy feels the frustration of life and how emotions can be overwhelming. And sometimes it’s hard when things don’t go your way—it can make a piggy angry and sad. So Piggy walks the reader through a series of steps to find inner peace when things around him seem out of control. Through the simple meditation, Piggy has time to notice all the magical things in life, too!
What Does It Mean To Be Present? By Rana Diorio
This beautifully illustrated picture book engages all of the senses to demonstrate how to appreciate each moment as they unfold. The story sparks meaningful discussions about the important gift of gratitude, giving children the opportunity to live more fully and richly…in the present.
Anh’s Anger by Gail Silver
Five-year-old Anh becomes angry when his grandfather asks him to stop playing and come in for dinner. Anh’s grandfather recommends that he go to his room and, “sit with his anger.” The story unfolds when Anh discovers what it means to sit with his anger (a redhead fiery creature). Anh and his anger work together to come up with a solution.
Steps and Stones by Gail Silver
Anh’s friends leave and he feels left out at school. He finds himself sitting with his anger again. By counting his steps and harmonizing them with his breathing (mindfulness walk) Anh is able to slow down and take his anger for a peaceful walk.
I am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness by Susan Verde
This book teaches children how to be present and appreciate each moment of the day. The author also gives ideas on how to engage in meaningful discussions about the importance of gratitude, slowing down and being present.
Master of Mindfulness: How to be your own Superhero in Times of Stress by Lauri Grossman
Master of Mindfulness is an inspiring book written for kids by kids, that expresses ways kids can stay calm and tap into their own personal strength so that they are empowered and in control of their emotions.
Listening with my Heart: A Story of Kindness and Self-Compassion by Gabi Garcia
When Esperanza finds a heart-shaped rock, uses it as a symbol of spreading kindness and compassion in the world. But when she’s faced with adversity she forgets the message that she’s been spreading to others. This book is about self-compassion and treating yourself with love.
Good Morning Yoga by Mariam Gates
Good Morning Yoga teaches children simple yoga poses that enables children to jumpstart the day with energy and enthusiasm. The book ends with teaching students to visualize and set intentions for the day ahead.
Good Night Yoga by Mariam Gates
Good Night Yoga teaches kids a simple flow of yoga postures using things in nature to incorporate into their bedtime routine. This bedtime yoga flow supports a restful sleep.
5 Mindfulness Activities
It doesn’t have to look the same way for everyone—30 minutes of sitting in full lotus, eyes closed with the smell of essential oils wafting in the air (although I do love the smell of lavender while meditating)-this is NOT the “right way” to practice. It’s only ONE way to practice mindfulness. Find what practice works best for you and your kids so that it becomes a habit.
The Mindful Jar
This activity can teach children to go from strong emotions to feel peaceful. Watching the whirl of the glitter—difficult to think clearly when you have strong emotions); then it all settles to the bottom of the glass jar—calm minds help make clear decisions).
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Belly Buddies & Stomach Stuffies
Have your child to lay on her back and place a small stuffed animal on top of her belly buttons. Ask her to breath in slowly and fill her tummy with air (she should see the stuffed animal rise slowly on her belly). The ask her to slowly let the air out of her belly (watching the animal and her belly lower). Ask her to repeat this in-out slow breathing 10-20 times. You could also add a Mantra for your child to repeat (out loud or to herself) while breathing.
While breathing in say “I am” – While breathing out say “Thankful”
While breathing in say “I am” – While breathing out say “Love”
While breathing in say “I am” – While breathing out say “Enough”
Mindful Senses Walk
Senses Walk: Outdoor is a great way to teach your children mindfulness. Talk to your children about what mindfulness is and how you can use your senses as a tool to practice it. Take a Senses Walk with your family and see what you can discover when you are present and mindful in the space around you.
Walk without talking (between one and five minutes), the time varies based on the age of your child(ren). As you are silent you will observe everything that you See, Hear, Smell, Touch, and Taste (the last one may not be applicable). Ask your child to turn their senses on high and become mindful of all the things that are around them.
Chiming or Singing Bells
Have your children relax and listen (really focus) to the singing bell until they can’t hear it anymore. Singing bells usually last about 30-45 seconds. It’s nice to own your own singing bell set (can be found on Amazon), but you can find singing bowl chime sounds on phone apps and on YouTube. It can assist in calming your child and can be used to help them focus.
Blowing with the Breath
A great (and fun) way to slow your child down is to give them bubbles and/or pinwheels to practice mindfulness. Encourage your children to breathe in deeply and breath out slowly. The act of the slow movement of the blown bubbles or spinning pinwheel helps them to slow down and focus on their senses.
Take time to spend quiet, focused time with your children. Leave a comment and let me know how you are developing a mindfulness practice with your children.
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