We all know how important mindfulness and meditation are, and I’m 99% certain I can speak for the majority of adults when I say that it took us until our late 20s or early 30s to really figure it out, if we figured it out at all.
We’ve had to weather life’s ups and downs, fret over finding our purpose, and juggle tricky relationships before realizing the superpowers of mindfulness.
But what if we had these practices to fall back on when we were going through it in our younger years?
How would our experiences have been different if we were better equipped to manage stress, understand our emotions, and actually communicate our needs?
Better yet, what if we introduced this wild concept to kids when they’re knee-high to a grasshopper?
Imagine how equipped they would be to navigate the treacherous tween and teen years when hormones run wild.
If you’re an adult that goes to therapy, and you have a good therapist, the therapist will always dig into your childhood. What was your childhood like and how did your parents navigate trauma and tough situations? That’s usually the key to unlocking so much of negativity we hold onto as adults.
Mindfulness and meditation are just as crucial for a child’s mental health as they are for adults, and we need to find cute and creative ways to lay the foundation for these practices in a way that kids will actually pay attention to.
Today’s kids are different; especially our “covid kids.”
They grew up during a pandemic, which has undoubtedly left a lasting impact on their personalities and social development. We can be so quick to say that “when I was a kid, my parents would never let that behavior fly.”
Well, when we were kids, we freely ran around the neighborhood on our bikes until the street lights came on or you heard your parents whistle. Our covid kids had literally the exact opposite experience.
Here are some practical tips for helping kids, especially the anxious and hyperactive ones, embrace mindfulness and meditation without realising it:
1. Moving Meditation:
If you’re new to meditation, the first thing I want you to know is that meditation isn’t only about sitting still and breathing. Moving mediation is slow movements linked to breath, so think of yoga or a nature walk. For kids, moving meditation can be activities like coloring, painting, Play-Doh, Kinetic Sand or playing with various materials while listening to calming music.
Don’t worry about them linking their breath and definitely don’t think that art has to be on any special paper either. Grab rocks, leaves, cardboard boxes, computer paper, etc., and let them have at it.
If you want more guidance on activities to do, grab some pages from The Cool Kids Club!
2. Bath Time Water Therapy:
Even just the sound of water has a scientifically proven calming effect on our brains and sitting in it has the ultimate affects. Get the bath super bubbly and give the kid(s) some kitchen utensils like spoons, measuring cups, and bowls to scoop bubbles.
My kids personally love when I make “special bubbles” and add some food coloring to it. I have a TikTok video on how to make it (HERE).
Children are natural explorers. Again with moving meditation, let them tinker with random objects from around the house to encourage curiosity and tactile exploration.
Random things that have personally given my kids hours of curiosity are kitchen tongs and a retractable measuring tape (they’ll bend it though so grab some you don’t care about).
4. Breathing Exercises:
Animal Breathing is my kids personal favorite when it comes to actually getting them to calm down for bedtime or to calm down when we’re out in public.
- Bunny breath: take three short breaths in and one long breath out, like a little bunny.
- Snake breath: one long breath in and a long breath out making a sssnake ssssssound.
- Whale breaths: take a deep breathe in and bend the head back for a slow breath out, pretending the mouth is the whales blowhole.
- Monkey Breath: kids can sit like a monkey and take a deep breath in, and on the exhale, they slowly and calmly say “oo oo oo” like a monkey.
- Bee Breath: take a deep breath in, plug ears, and buzz like a bee with the out breath.
4 Finger Tapping: Counting to 4 as you tap each finger to your thumb and breathe in. Then breathe out taping to 4 and blowing on your fingers. For some kids the sensation of tapping and the cool air is a helpful distraction.
Bubble Belly Breathing: Help kids identify anxiety by talking about “bubbles in their belly” and use deep breaths to release them. This exercise can provide a tangible way for children to understand and manage their feelings. I have an entirely separate blog post about this one (HERE).
Balloon Breath: Imagine their belly as a big balloon that inflates and deflates as they breathe deeply. They can also stand up
Stuffy Breath: Place a stuffed animal on their stomach and encourage them to watch it rise and fall as they breathe. This visual aid can make deep breathing more engaging.
5. Kids’ Yoga:
There are a few YouTube channels dedicated to kids’ yoga, such as Cosmic Kids Yoga (our favorite), Bari Koral, Go With Yoyo, and Kids Yoga Stories.
My kids found my old yoga mat and think it’s the neatest thing to “play yoga” on. Not only is it really cute, it gives them something to do and incorporates some new breathing exercises.
6. Mindfulness Apps:
My absolute favorite mindfulness app is Calm. Both my husband and I use it every day between the kids and meditations for us and sleep stories for the kids. Other great apps include Stop, Breathe, Think, Headspace, and Mindful Family.
By teaching children mindfulness practices at an early age, we can equip them with invaluable tools to navigate the challenges of life with resilience, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence. These practices not only help them manage stress and emotions but also build a strong foundation for their future well-being.