Happy New Year! We hope this year brings you much health, happiness, and mindfulness. Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment with openness and curiosity. Research finds that mindfulness practice can help decrease stress and anxiety, enhance focus in children and adults, boost working memory, reduce attention problems, and strengthen resilience and emotional regulation for both adults and children.
Today’s world is increasingly complex and busy. There is constant distraction and our minds often wander away from the present moment. It is important for all people, young and old, to be aware and have control of our minds so that we can be our “best selves” in whatever we do and with whomever we are with.
Below are two simple mindfulness activities you can try with your children:
Body Scan – The body scan is a key practice in mindfulness, and an easy one to teach to children. This exercise helps children to be more aware of their bodies.
Have your child lie down on their back on a comfortable surface and close their eyes.
Then tell them to squeeze every muscle in their body as tight as they can. Tell them to squish their toes and feet, squeeze their hands into fists, and make their legs and arms as hard as stone.
After a few seconds, have them release all their muscles and relax for a few minutes
Encourage them to think about how their body is feeling throughout the activity. How they felt at the beginning and how they are feeling at the end.
Heartbeat Exercise - Paying attention to one’s heartbeat has a role in many mindfulness exercises and activities. This exercise teaches children to notice their heartbeat and use it as a tool to help their focus.
To begin, tell your kids to jump up and down in place or do jumping jacks for one minute.
When they have finished, have them sit down and put a hand over their heart. Instruct them to close their eyes and pay attention only to their heartbeat and, perhaps, their breath as well.
Mindfulness Apps for Children:
Smiling Mind. This app has great body scan meditations to help children develop the awareness of what’s happening in their bodies. Learning about what’s happening in your body is one of the first steps of an authentic mindfulness practice.
Headspace (for Kids). This app teaches parents and children together about meditation for different age levels. They focus on Calm, Kindness, and Bedtime.
Calm. This app provides mindfulness and sleep stories for children of varying ages. This app can help to get children to relax, and restore themselves after a full day of running around.
Let’s continue to work together to ensure we all are sound in body and mind!