5 Ways To Promote Mindfulness In Children
Mindfulness is one of those things that we should all be practicing more often. When it comes to looking after your mind and body, mindfulness gives you a way to connect with your inner thoughts and feelings, improving your chances of overcoming stress, anxiety, and other issues that often plague us nowadays. Just like adults, children can suffer from anxiety, stress and other problems that make it harder for them to enjoy inner well-being.
It’s not always easy to practice mindfulness with a child in the form of meditation. Getting your kids to sit quietly for five minutes of peaceful reflection requires a lot of time and patience. There are other ways to introduce the principles of mindfulness to their lives. Here are five ways to help your children practice mindfulness.
1) Try the squish and relax method
One of the best ways to encourage mindful relaxation is called the “squish and relax” method. Basically, you ask your child to sit with you and squeeze every muscle in their body as tight as they can, then release. Tell your child to squish their toes into their feet, tense their stomachs, push their fingers into fists and push their shoulders high up next to their ears. This might seem like a strange way to encourage relaxation, but when your child lets go of all the tension that they’ve built and relaxes, they’ll notice how much looser and more comfortable they can feel.
Squish and relax is a fun and useful activity for kids who need help managing their body and mind.
What’s more, the more you try the squish and relax method, the more your child will begin to recognize when tension and pressure is building up somewhere in their body. The squish and relax method is particularly useful when you’re helping your kid get to sleep each night as part of a regular bedtime routine.
2) Make your child a superhero
If you really want your child to fall in love with the idea of mindfulness, then you’re going to need to start speaking their language. With that in mind, why not try some superhero methods? Children will have an easier time to get started with mindfulness by practicing poses that make them feel confident and happy – like the Wonder Woman or Superman pose.
Help your child practice mindfulness by invoking their inner superhero.
Ask them to use their “Spidey senses”. Basically, what you’re trying to do here is encourage your child to get really focused on their sense of hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch. Just like Spiderman, they’ll try to hear things that are far away and notice the feel of every texture around them. This classic mindfulness exercise is all about getting your child to pay more attention to their world.
3) Turn to technology for help
If both you and your child are pretty new to mindfulness and meditation, then it might be helpful to have some technology on hand to help you.
You can practice mindfulness with apps and videos on your smartphone that will guide you.
Some apps are specifically designed to guide kids and parents through the basics of meditation, mindful relaxation, and more. Most of these apps come with handy, user-friendly guidelines to follow, as well as videos that show you how to test out mindful poses and other strategies at home. Together, you can work with your child to discover the benefits of mindfulness step-by-step and put them to the test in your day-to-day lives. You might be surprised by how much you both benefit.
4) The bell exercise
This is another mindfulness strategy for children that focuses on getting your child to concentrate on the world around them. Ring a bell or play some music and ask your child to listen closely to not just the sound, but the vibration of the rhythm. The great thing about using a bell is that your child will only hear the sound for a moment, but they may continue to notice the vibration in their senses for a while after the bell’s sound stops.
Ask your child to raise their hand when they can’t sense the bell anymore. Afterward, focus on a moment of silence with your child, where you ask them to think about what they can hear around them – from the kids outside to the noise of a clock ticking somewhere in the house. This fun exercise is a great way to help kids connect to the present moment.
5) Breathing buddies
Finally, give your children a stuffed animal, or cushion to hold, and ask them to lie down on the floor, with the cushion or animal on their stomachs. Tell them to breathe in slowly for a minute and notice how their breathing body moves on their belly as they breathe. The more time you spend practicing this exercise, the more your child may begin to notice other sensations too, like the feeling of the carpet underneath them, for instance. Breathing is one of the most important parts of mindfulness and meditation, and this is a quick and simple way to get your child to be more aware of their breath.
Promoting mindfulness in kids
Ultimately, children are designed to be always on the move and playing, so it’s pretty difficult to convince them to stop for a moment of mindful meditation. The good news is that the strategies above will give you a fun and simple way to introduce your children to mindfulness at an early age.
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