Mindfulness for children

During their different developmental stages, children are susceptible to all kinds of stresses – from being fussy babies dealing with feeding and sleep issues, to toddlers grappling with language, to growing teenagers struggling to find their place in the world. Mindfulness can be a huge help in easing them through their most impressionable years and increasing their emotional wellbeing, as well as providing them with a strong foundation for mental health in their years to come.

While mindfulness is a powerful tool that brings together ancient meditation techniques and modern methods from psychotherapy to reduce anxiety and low mood, it can also be as simple as taking a deep breath and acknowledging the present. This is something that can be taught to even very young children in order for them to live a more happy, accepting and stress-free life.

Let’s face it, children can get easily distracted! The idea of implementing mindfulness can seem like quite a challenge at first. Start with explaining mindfulness in an accessible, non-confusing way, with words they will understand and concepts that aren’t too abstract. Describing mindfulness as something fun and beneficial to them is a great way to get them interested and engaged with the topic. Here are some active ways that your child can find joy in practicing mindfulness safely and hopefully fuss-free.

Hold a pose for one minute

In a tidy and airy room or a garden, have your child hold a pose like the superman or warrior pose. Ask them to be intentional with how they stretch their limbs, and if comfortable, to close their eyes. Once they have held the pose for one minute, invite them to talk about how it made them feel, using adjectives like ‘powerful.’

Play the senses game

A quick way to practice mindfulness is to observe your surroundings. The senses game requires you to actively notice the things you can see, smell, taste, touch and hear. This is a great game to play individually, or with each other.

Observe your surroundings

If a child is feeling worried or overwhelmed, a good way to bring them into the present and help them to calm down and focus is to ask them to name certain things in a particular category that they can see around them. For example, “name five yellow things in this room” or “tell me six things you can see that begin with the letter s”.

Try mindful breathing

As bizarre as it sounds, intentional breathing can actually be quite tricky! It requires patience and focus, which can be difficult for children at any age. A great way to approach this is for your child to lie on their back with a small toy on their stomach. Ask them to take deep belly breaths, watching their toy rise and fall with them. This is a form of diaphragmatic breathing, which is great for reducing stress and helps with digestion and lowering blood pressure. For children, it’s an easy way for them to feel grounded in their environment.

Practice mindful drawing

Expressing yourself artistically is not only a fantastic brain activity, but also one where you can be imaginative and focused. A mindful activity could be to draw a rough self-portrait and, with arrows pointing outwards, drawing objects or writing words about what makes them feel happy, safe and loved.

If you’re looking for alternative ways for you and your child(ren) to practice mindfulness, or have any questions about the therapies we offer to support children’s wellbeing, give us a call on 01273 698687.