Mindfulness Activities for Kids!
It’s no secret—we could all use more ways of staying calm and mentally healthy this winter. Kids included!
This year has been a challenge for most families, and as we get deeper into the darker season, we’re going to need to work a little harder to remain balanced and whole.
One way to boost our mental and emotional energy is through mindful activities that are easy to do at home. Mindfulness is the practice of turning your attention and awareness inward to yourself. You might think kids are naturally terrific at this, but for most people, even kids, true mindfulness is a habit that takes work. It can be hard to stay in the present when there are so many things to worry about—in-person school, remote learning, the pandemic, grades, when you’ll get to see your friends again, a parent’s lost job. But the more kids practice mindfulness, the better grounded they’ll become as they begin to understand they only have control over their own selves. Not a bad lesson for adults, either.
Try some of these mindful practices with your kids and see if there are any changes in outlook, behavior, learning, or other aspects of daily life.
In many parts of the country, this time of year can be a challenge for those who like to exercise—it’s too cold to go for a run and many of the gyms are closed! Plus, youth sports has taken a big hit, and lots of kids are feeling a bit stuck. Yoga is one form of exercise that has lots of benefits beyond muscle tone and relaxation. And, it’s easy to do at home. You can find lots of free kids’ yoga classes online, or try an easy yoga pose that’s perfect for kids!
Downward Dog is a yoga pose created in ancient India that has been used for centuries. It’s a terrific way to stretch your whole body!
- Start on your hands and knees. Place your wrists right under your shoulders and your knees right under your hips.
- Spread your fingers wide. Stretch your arms out straight. Lift your knees off the floor and try to straighten your legs as you reach your bottom up to the ceiling. Your body will be in the shape of an upside-down “V”, or a triangle.
- Don’t forget to breath! Try to stretch your legs a little more every time you do the pose.
You might think meditation and kids don’t mix, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Many kids love to meditate. They find it helps them focus, increases their good energy, makes it easier to concentrate on schoolwork, and more. Like many forms of exercise, establishing a habit will go a long way toward gaining these benefits, but even if your kids only manage a few minutes once or twice a week, that will help!
- Find a comfortable spot. Whether you lie down on your bed or a sofa or sit in a chair with your head and shoulders supported, pick a quiet place with few distractions.
- Take a deep breath through your nose. Exhale the breath out through your mouth.
- Put your hand on your belly. Feel your belly rise and fall with your breath.
- Take three breaths. Then, take 15, 20 breaths, however many you need to take to feel a sense of calm.
- If you’re feeling stressed—in the moment— and don’t have five minutes, take three deep breaths. Even this will help center you.
- Now, close your eyes and imagine a peaceful place. Maybe think about the ocean waves lapping up against the shore, time and time again. You might envision the sun, rising slowly and beautifully, its pink and purple hues stretching across the horizon. Breathe, relax. Now, stand up straight, reach your hands up to that sun, and then bring your hands together, palms pressed together.
- Meditation helps the most when you practice every day!
It can be easier to feel like 2020 was the worst year ever. After all, a lot of scary things happened! But it’s a mistake to focus on all of the bad things, when the past year was also a great chance to take stock of what’s important in life. Develop a couple of games that helps kids recognize how lucky they are. Flexing that gratitude muscle is a great way to start a new year.
- Play Flower, Thorn, Bud. In this game, every person describes three parts of their day—the flower part, which is something good that happened, the thorn part, or something bad that happened, and the bud part, which is something they’re looking forward to. This is a terrific way to recognize that even bad days contain some good in them.
- Brainstorm to come up with a list of things that made you happy this year. For each month, think of one good event that happened. Did you make a new friend online? Did you watch some great movies? Did you have new outdoor adventures? By looking at an entire year, families can put the rough days and weeks into perspective.
Kids bored? Try some hands-on science that kids love! The activities in this free ebook are designed for independent learning and offer the perfect projects for school holidays.