There’s a lot going on in the world at the moment that can be especially confusing to children, and you might be looking for ways to help your kids cope with stress and understand their emotions. Childhood is filled with fun times and stressful ones as they’re constantly learning new things to adapt to this world, and new experiences can often seem scary to children that don’t understand what they are feeling and how to respond to certain situations.
You’ll be pleased to know that there are lots of easy ways to introduce your children to the concept of mindfulness, which will help them to be present and aware of what they’re feeling. In this blog, we’ll take you through what mindfulness is all about, how it can help your children, and 5 fun mindfulness activities for children that will introduce them to the concept.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is all about being aware of everything around you and living in the present. It’s about really focusing on your thoughts and feelings and expressing them in that particular moment.
Mindfulness guides us a step back to get a different perspective on things - only for us to realise that things aren’t always as they seem. While you can’t change or control what happens in your life, mindfulness gives us an improved sense of focus, calm and clarity to change the way we experience things in our lives.
In this Ted Talk, Andy Puddicombe touches on how our fast-paced world has forced us to miss out on the important things in life. He explores how mindfulness allows us to do absolutely nothing and helps us look after our precious minds, so make sure you check out his talk when you have a spare 10 minutes.
Why Should We Teach Mindfulness to Kids?
Kids face a lot of pressure everyday - from school, extra-curricular activities, family, friends and social media. Lockdown was a testing time for us adults being cooped up at home, and you can only imagine how the experience could have been for your kids.
With your kids' lives whizzing by so quickly, mindfulness teaches them to take a step back, slow down and appreciate the moment. Through mindfulness, children will gain the life skills to understand and express emotions, cope with stress, and react in various situations.
How to Explain Mindfulness to Kids
Before convincing your child to practise mindfulness, explaining what it is first can be a bit complicated. Try explaining to them in an age-appropriate manner what mindfulness is and how it can help them.
Kids pick up things from their parents from seeing what they do, so practising it with them is a great way to introduce mindfulness. After practising it, offering them an incentive - treating them to their favourite food and drink, or even doing an activity they enjoy can make mindfulness a positive experience.
Before getting your kids to partake in mindfulness activities, you need to learn how to teach it to them. Explaining mindfulness and teaching it are two different things, so here are a few ways to teach it to your children.
1) Establish Your Own Practice: To convince your kids to try mindfulness activities, you yourself need to practise them first and lead by example. For example, you could start your own day with a quick 10 minute meditation and explore other ways to practise mindfulness regularly.
2) Keep it Simple: Keep it concise and straightforward. The word itself is big and may put lots of kids off, so explaining it in the most basic way for them to understand is the best way to do it.
3) Check your expectations: Don’t expect mindfulness to shake up your household! If your end goal is to completely change everything in your home, sorry to say, but it’s not the result you’ll get. Set out realistic expectations for your child’s introduction to mindfulness to avoid disappointment.
4) Don't force it: If your children simply aren’t interested - leave it! You need to make sure you find the right time to introduce mindfulness to them, because you can encourage them all you want, but if they don’t find it helpful, then forcing them defeats the purpose.
Mindfulness Activities for Children
- Listen To The Bell: Use anything from a bell, wind chimes or your phone - as long as it makes a sound, you’re as good as gold. Start off by telling your kids that you’ll be making a sound for them to listen to with their eyes closed. Get them to focus on the sound and think about how they are currently feeling towards what’s happening around them.
- Go For a ‘Mindful’ Walk: So what exactly is a mindful walk? Kids love to wander around outdoors, and are constantly attracted to things that intrigue them. Walk around your neighbourhood and get them to point out things that they’ve never noticed before. Finish it off with one minute of silence to hone in on the beautiful sounds of nature.
- Practise Gratitude: Practising gratitude is a way for your kids to show appreciation for what they have, and not everyone is lucky in that way. You can introduce this at the dinner table before a meal and go around expressing what you’re thankful for. This activity helps to take away the materialistic possessions that eat up our lives and encourage us to value the simple moments that bring us happiness.
- Meditation: Introducing your kids to meditation can be tricky, so try using the spiderman meditation technique. This type of meditation is inspired by your friendly neighbourhood superhero, and his ability to hone in on his ‘spidey’ senses. Have your children close their eyes, focus on everything they can smell, taste and hear in the present moment and describe it to you.
- Decorate a Mind Jar: Find a jar and fill it up with glitter - shake it up and watch the glitter storm. Ask them to focus on the glitter as it floats around the jar and their breathing to help them find a sense of calm in that moment.
These fun ways can set the right tone of mindfulness as a positive experience for your child. As parents, you only want the best for your kids - and practising mindfulness together can be a way for you to spend quality time with them.
Mindfulness also helps adults in dealing with stressful situations. Here’s a practical example - the next time your child accidentally spills something on the carpets, your mindfulness practices will allow you to react calmly and solve the problem using RugDoctor’s Stain Remover without panicking. You can demonstrate to your children that no matter what happens, we’re always in control of how we react to a situation.
Keeping your home in a tidy state can also help you to declutter your mind and create a good physical space for practising mindfulness in, so for help on cleaning your house room by room – download your very own Personalised Cleaning Guide today.