4 Mindful Exercises for Kids
We are kicking off our new year by consciously becoming more mindful as a family. If you missed our post last week, I urge you to check it out. I discussed why mindfulness is so important, especially for children. I also shared a list of some pretty great picture books to get you and your kids motivated. This week we are sharing 4 Mindful Exercises for Kids, but it will work great for the whole family! Before we continue, please take a moment to pin this post to your homeschool board.
Mindful of Time
Do you ever feel like life is zooming by? Our kids are growing like weeds, right before our eyes. The years are turning faster than the pages in our books. I am not sure if it is because I am getting older or it has always been this way. I remember as a child a year seemed like FOREVER!
Mindful of Stress
Not only is time flying by, but our minds are full of stressful thoughts!
“Are my kids okay?”
“Are they eating enough vegetables?”
“Do I really need to only buy organic?”
“I should be meal prepping right now!”
“Am I limiting their screen time enough?”
Our kids are super stressed as well, trying to live up to all our demands and the demands our media places on them. We want the best for our kids and ourselves. I bet 2 out of 3 of your goals this year is for you to become more healthy or more successful. We want the same thing for our kids’ health and success and happiness of course! How can we create that for our family? Well becoming more mindful is definitely the key to make your wishes for you and your family more of a reality.
Using the popular mindfulness acronym S.T.O.P. to introduce mindfulness into your household is probably the easiest and more effective way to start this journey.
S: Stop. Ask your children to drop whatever they are doing.
T: Take three deep breaths. Instruct your children to take a few deep, belly-filling breaths with long inhales and exhales. We love belly breathing when we are stressed out.
O: Observe. Invite your children to tune into their physical sensations, surroundings, and emotions. Using their 5 senses, they can notice what they see, hear, feel, and taste. They can label their emotions, (without judgment). Ask them to identify their thoughts.
P: Proceed. They can carry on with more awareness.
This can sometimes be hard to remember when life is currently unfolding and sh*ttake mushrooms have hit the fan. A fun thing to do with your family may be to create a few S.T.O.P. signs with craft stuff and place them around the house. This is a great reminder, to stop whenever you see it to become more aware. You can even move them around every other week or so to keep everyone on their toes. But these exercises go for parents too! Let’s be honest you know, we all lose our sh*ttake mushrooms now and then or feel anxious and overwhelmed or just downright blue. These exercises help parents too!
Mindfulness S.T.O.P Exercise
2. Sit Like a Frog
Exercise 2 comes from the book Sitting Still like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids and Their Parents by Eline Snel. This book offers simple mindfulness practices to help children deal with anxiety, improve concentration and handle difficult emotions.
See if you can pretend to be a frog sitting very, very still on a lily pad. While you sit on that lily pad, Mr. Frog, you breathe. If you move too much, your lily pad will tip over, and you’ll wind up in the water. So, you just sit still as your green frog tummy goes in and out. Although you can leap high into to the sky, you can also sit still like a statue, like you are now. Because you’re a frog, you just watch what’s happening all around you and within you, and you don’t jump into action right away. You simply sit still and breathe on that lily pad, storing up your energy. Notice how your tummy goes in and out, Mr. Frog. In and out.
This is a great exercise to do with kids, as it helps them focus and concentrate.
3. Do the “Stuffy Belly” Loving-Kindness Exercise
Bookend each day with a loving-kindness practice. It teaches your children to consider the well-being of everyone on the planet, including themselves.
- As your children lie in bed, encourage them to pick out a favorite plush toy to place on their tummies. Ask them to watch the toy move up and down as they breathe. (This settles the mind.)
- After a few moments, ask them to say to their toy, “May you be happy, [insert toy’s name].”
- Instruct them to pretend there is a mirror in front of them, and invite them to say “May you be happy, [insert child’s name].”
- Now ask them to think of a friend and say, “May you be happy, [insert friend’s name].”
- Next, send positive thoughts to family members, neighbors, and others in your community.
- Expand that circle to include others in your country, everyone on the planet, and, finally, all beings. You can use phrases like, “May you live with joy,” “May you be content,” or “May you be peaceful.”
4. Use Compassion and Kindness Reminders
Make compassion a part of your family’s everyday life by using reminders to make kindness habitual. You can speak with your children about compassion and explain that everyone could use help in some way. When you take action and help a person, you are being compassionate.
One tool we found and really like are these COMPASSION IT wristbands which help us all remember to be more compassionate every day. It is a simple tool that encourages your children to seek out ways to offer compassion. The wristband is a different color on each side, so you can use one side to remind yourself to give compassion, and flip to the other side when you’ve succeeded.