Simple Mindfulness Activities for Children and Families
Mindfulness can be described as ‘paying more attention to the present moment- to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you’ (NHS, 2018).
Practicing Mindfulness can help people:
- Become more self-aware
- Feel calmer and less stressed
- Have more control over how they respond to thoughts and feelings
- Manage difficult or unhelpful thoughts
- Be kinder towards themselves
Below are 5 activities that encourage mindfulness in children which can be practiced at home.
- Mindful Eating
Give children a snack to eat and ask them to pay attention to and tell you about the taste, shape, colour, size, sound, smell and texture of the food they are eating as well as how it feels to eat it as they move it around to different parts of their mouths. Once this skill is practiced, children can do this when eating their meals at home and at school to give them a mindful moment in the day.
- Body Scan
A body scan is a type of mediation that involves doing a mental scan of the body from head to toe and slowly bringing attention to each part of the body. This helps children to notice any aches, pains or discomfort in parts of their body or any sensations that would usually go unnoticed. Body Scans can be practiced at any time of the day but building them into the bedtime routine can be as useful as body scans have been linked to improvements in sleep.
Mindful.org has a free Body Scan Meditation audio for children available on their website here: https://www.mindful.org/body-scan-kids/. There are many more Body Scan audios available for free on www.youtube.com.
- Mindful Colouring
Mindful colouring can be done by helping your child to focus on the different colours they are using and how the pencil feels against the paper. Mindfulness colouring books are available to buy however, there are also many mindful colouring sheets which can be downloaded for free. These can be found on Twinkl (www.twinkl.co.uk), Pinterest (www.pinterest.com), and Google Images (www.google.com) by searching for Children’s Mindful Colouring Sheets.
- Mindful Breathing
Mindful breathing can be done by helping children to focus their attention on the sound of their breath as they inhale and exhale as well as the motion of their stomachs rising and falling.
To help younger children practice mindful breathing, ask them to pretend they’re smelling their favourite food as they inhale and blowing out candles as they exhale. To start with children may only be able to focus for a few breaths, but with practice, this can be built up to several minutes.
- Mindful Walking
Building a mindful walk into the day could be a quick and easy way to incorporate mindfulness into your child’s daily routine. While taking a walk, ask your child to be silent for 2 minutes and focus on paying attention to the sights, sounds and smells that are around them and the feeling of different textures under their feet as they walk. This could include the sounds of other children playing, a siren in the distance or the smell of damp leaves around you. After the 2 minutes have passed, take the time to speak with your child about what you both noticed and how these things made you feel.
More information on Mindfulness can be found at the following places...
https://blissfulkids.com/ are offering ‘12 Bite-Sized Mindfulness Activities’ booklet that can be downloaded for free.
Take a look at this 2-week calendar of daily 5-minute mindfulness activities that aim to help children relax physically and emotionally. The activities can be done at home or at school.
Beth Cheesman (Assistant Psychologist)