Experiencing anxiety and stress isn’t exclusive to adults, so practicing mindfulness shouldn’t be either. If you notice that your child is experiencing mood swings, feeling overwhelmed, or always worrying, then consider teaching them how to integrate mindfulness practice into their daily lives. It may be difficult for kids to grasp the concept initially, but don’t worry. Here are some simple ways you can introduce mindfulness to your young ones.
Do a body scan
A body scan is a simple way of getting your child to focus on the present and reconnect with their bodies.
Start by lying down with your child on your back. Ask them to close their eyes gently and to put their hands on their stomach so they can feel themselves breathe. After you’ve gone through a couple of rounds of deep breathing, ask your child to “scan” one body part at a time, starting from the head all the way down to the toes. Throughout the exercise, ask your child questions that encourage them to really pay attention to the sensations in their bodies, like, “Do you feel heaviness here, or do you feel light and free?”
Eventually, they will be able to practice on their own, without your guidance.
Breathe with your belly
Breathing intentionally into the belly will help slow your child down and encourage them to focus on engaging more of their body by filling both the chest cavity and belly with oxygen. Plus, belly breathing will slow their heart rate and signal their body to relax.
Practice removing judgment and criticism
Encourage your child to maintain their childlike wonder and curiosity as they observe the world around them. As we grow, we tend to become more judgmental, but a kid’s mind is often less likely to have negative thoughts about the things around them. Mindfulness comes easier with a less judgmental mindset.
If your child is upset or having trouble letting go of feelings of frustrations, anger, or sadness, simply grab a bottle of bubbles, and ask your kids to “blow” those feelings away. You can teach your child to be vulnerable by saying their emotions out loud as they blow bubbles. Watching the bubbles float away and pop gives them a positive visualization of letting go of feelings that are not serving them.
Journal about the day’s events
Keeping a journal can help your child cope with difficult emotions. Try to practice mindfulness with them by having them journal about their emotions and the events that may have caused them. Writing down these feelings can relieve their minds, will give them an opportunity to reflect on their own thought processes, and may reveal new solutions for whatever they are facing.
Check in with your senses
Ask your child to take a few deep breaths, then describe what they notice around them using all five senses: sight, smell, taste, hear, and touch. This practice will help them intentionally pay attention to how they feel in the present moment rather than focusing on their thoughts.