Mindfulness is simply paying attention to the present moment. But this is easier said than done, especially when referring to children. I'm sure we are all guilty of just telling our children to “pay attention” or “focus” and getting no results. I know I am!
What if instead of just telling them what they need to do, we teach them about mindfulness and encourage them to practice it. Practicing mindfulness can help children concentrate better in school, and be more aware of what is happening.
There are many simple ways to incorporate and introduce mindfulness to your children. Here are five of my favorites:
1. Freeze Yoga
This game is as easy as it sounds. All you'll need is some open space and music. Pick 3-5 yoga poses that you'll be using throughout the game.
My five of choices are:
Namaste pose - Sit in criss cross with your hands in clapping position by chest.
Child's pose - Begin on your hands and knees. Drop your bottom to your heals and rest your head onto the floor, with your arms resting by your side.
Mountain pose - Stand tall with your arms actively resting by your sides, and your palms facing forward.
Tree pose - Stand with your hands in clapping position by chest, while balancing on one leg. Your other leg should be bent and placed on your calf muscle.
Downward dog pose - Begin in tabletop position. Bring your hips up while actively looking towards your feet. You should be forming a triangle shape with your body and the floor.
Go over each pose with your children before starting the game.
When the music is playing: dance around, run, shake and move your body.
When the music stops: freeze and listen for the yoga pose.
Once you hear the yoga pose, go into the pose and wait until the music turns on again.
2. Beanbag Head Drops
For this game all you need is one beanbag (a small plush toy works too).
Place beanbag on top of your head, then bring your hands together ready to catch. Next, drop your head, causing the beanbag to fall. Try and catch the beanbag in your hands! If this is too easy, have them bring their hands all the way down by their sides before dropping the beanbag.
3. Blowing bubbles
If this isn't simple enough, I don't know what is! There are many different ways to blow a bubble believe it or not!
Have your child take a long deep breath in, then with one exhalation see how many bubbles they can blow. Another way is to blow very slowly and softly, trying to blow one giant bubble. You can also catch bubbles with the bubble stick, and have your child pop them by blowing.
4. Listen and clap
For this game, I would advise you to download a free metronome app on your phone.
Set the tempo to 54 beats per minute and have your child clap every time they hear the sound. You can adjust the tempo, making it faster or slower in order to make the game a little easier, or more challenging.
This is a great game because it incorporates auditory listening, motor planning and mindfulness all in one!
5. Hand Breathing
Hand breathing is a breathing technique that uses your hands for visual guidance.
Hold your left hand up, with your palm facing you. Then place your right index finger by the bottom of your left pinky. Slowly inhale while tracing up your pinky up finger, then exhale while tracing down your pinky finger. Inhale again while continuing on your hand and tracing up your ring finger. Exhale while tracing down your ring finger. Repeat the inhale / exhale and tracing steps with the rest of your fingers.
Hand breathing is a great tool to know while de-escalating a tantrum. But in order for any de-escalation strategy to work, they must have learned the tool prior to the tantrum. So practicing this simple breathing exercise daily can be extremely beneficial to you and your children.
And there you have it! Five simple mindfulness activities for you and your children! Give these a try and let us know how they work out!
If you have any topics that you would like to see addressed in the blog, leave suggestions in the comments below!
You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule private yoga sessions in the Miami area.