Mindfulness for Kids: Start now!
The more my husband and I infuse mindfulness and mediation into our daily routines, the more I wish I possessed these skills when I was younger. How helpful would this has been in those challenging moments throughout childhood, adolescence, and even through my 20s?! Bullies? No problem, I can take a deep breath and move on. Heartbreaks? Piece of cake. I know how to find my own sense of grounding and stability. Moving to the big city? Big deal. I can always find peace and beauty in my surroundings.
This is why we are trying to find ways to teach our kids how to relax, stay grounded in the present moment, and feel at home in their bodies. Mindfulness! Here are just a few activities we do regularly to cultivate mindfulness in our children. (Just a note: This works a lot better if you are committed to being mindful too. Need help with that? The website mindful.org has some great resources to get you started.)
This is a fun exercise I use all the time in tots yoga class. Using a small stuffed animal or toy (maybe 2 toys, if you are participating too!). I have the children lay down on their back and place the toy (a breathing buddy) on their belly. Instruct them the "give the breathing buddy a gentle ride" by breathing in and out. As they inhale the toy will rise and as they exhale the toy will lower. They now have a visual cue that will allow them to connect to the rhythm of the breath with ease. As they focus and experience the breath they may begin to relax deeply... Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. ;) Either way they are learning to control their breath and eventually their mood!
Listen and Wish
We have a singing bowl in our home, and I also use it to open my classes. You can also use hand chimes for this exercise. I ask the children to put on their listening ears. We wiggle and pat our ears to make sure they are on tight... Sometimes they are in my pocket and I have to attach mine. ;) I ask them to listen to the sound of the bowl. And I instruct them to listen all the way to the very end of the sound. When they can no long hear the ringing sound, they have to make a wish. By doing this we practice the ability to focus in a calm and relaxed state. The wishing part is just a bonus to add feelings of bliss or contentment to the moment...they often wish for cupcakes or presents...But once I had a child wish that Donald Trump would find love in his heart...I hear ya, kid.
In the car or on a nature walk, I tell my girls that their job is to notice 5 things. It's a simple job. Just notice. It could be something small or something big. It could be the way something looks, feels, or smells. As they start of observe the world around them, calm sets in. This exercise helps them to focus and tune in to their surroundings. Sometimes it even leads to interesting discussions about why things are the way they are. When we play 5 things I also notice we have less whining, need fewer snacks, and have more fun. As parent and child we connect on a deeper level. I start to become more mindful in my experience as well.
There are so many mindful activities you can bring to your daily life with kids. Here are a few resources I that I know and trust:
A great bedtime read - Buddha at Bedtime
To watch - Cosmic Kids Yoga
A good book for Parents - Sitting Still Like a Frog
Some more simple exercises to practice at home - Mindfulness for Kids
You can also come take Tots Yoga with me at the Little Red this fall!