“One of the great things about children is that they have no other concern than to be simply interested in things. It is considered by some the height of mindfulness to approach the world afresh like a child.”
- John Dickerson
Mindfulness is about appreciating the present moment, which helps improve mental wellbeing and positivity. Encouraging kids to be mindful can be tough when all they want to do is play, but there are ways to make it fun while also promoting happiness and harmony in the household. Mindfulness helps them be calm under stress, see situations more clearly, and feel in charge of their feelings. Many schools are even starting to introduce mindfulness games in their pupils’ routines, so here are 7 ways to encourage mindfulness at home:
For children that struggle with feeling agitated or anxious, breathing exercises can be helpful. Make it fun by asking them to lie on the floor, hands on their tummy. Encourage big breaths, and have them pay attention to their belly moving up and down. Start by doing this regularly, and increase the length of the belly breathing sessions as they start to enjoy it more.
Though it may seem an impossible task to get your little wrigglers to sit still long enough to meditate, it can be a great way for them to increase focus for school work and decrease worry before tests. The Headspace app offers fun, engaging meditation sessions for kids, with everything from breathing exercises to visualisations, so this is a good place to start. You’ll find more information here.
Create a happiness jar
Get a Mason jar or similar (having your kids decorate it could also be fun!) and every time something happens that makes them happy, have them write it down and pop it inside. If they can’t write themselves, you can assist as the scribe. This can increase feelings of gratitude and creates a bank of happy moments that can be called upon whenever they are feeling sad, stressed or angry.
The ‘no screen’ challenge
Mindfulness can be as simple as a digital detox, and challenging the whole family go one whole day without any screens - that means phones, TV, computer, etc. - is a fantastic way to have the kids focus on other activities, spend more time together, and be creative with their playtime.
Be glad at bedtime
Before bed is a nice time to help your children wind down and prepare for sleep, and one peaceful exercise to try while you tuck them in at night is to ask them to choose at least three things they are glad about from that day. This will help them go to bed feeling positive and allow them to reflect on what makes them happiest.
When the family gathers around the dinner table, use this as an opportunity to encourage mindful eating. Discuss the flavours and textures of the food, talk about their favourites, teach them about the nutrients that are going into their body, and more, as this can help them stay in the moment while eating, and create healthy habits for the future.
If your kids are unlikely to sit still, a great little exercise is to have them pose like their favourite superhero. Explain that posing like this can help them feel strong and brave, and have them stand with their feet just wider than their hips, fists clenched, and arms either reached up to the sky or placed on the hips. This power pose is fun, and helps instil confidence from a young age.
It is important to teach by doing. Children tend to copy their parents and model their actions after what they see others doing, so explaining the benefits of mindfulness and committing to regular exercises yourself will soon have your kids asking more questions and following suit.
Remember to be mindful of your own expectations. Children are easily distracted and full of energy, so don’t be discouraged if they initially push back. Regular practice and making it fun are the keys to encouraging mindfulness for your kids.
Do you have more tips for encouraging children to be mindful? Tell us over on our social media channels. We’d love to know your ideas.