Well done, parents! It’s official: we’ve completed over twelve weeks of lockdown. Lucky for you, mindfulness activities for kids are easier to perfect than the last twelve weeks. You’ve conquered the equivalent of two whole summer holidays, without play schemes, swimming pools, or grandparents. Flying high on the pure emotion of making it this far? Or feeling a little battered around the edges? No matter where you’re at, take a moment to recognise this parenting feat. Home-schooling isn’t easy.
There’s also the small matter of what’s next. Depending on where you live, some year groups are now back to school (at least part-time). But for most families, September is the earliest that school can get back to ‘normal’. In the meantime, why not put mindfulness activities for kids on the home-school curriculum?
At MindPanda, we think that mindfulness education is always important. And research has shown that the lockdown period has been challenging for many kids, too. Mindfulness can help children to talk about and understand their feelings better. Plus it’s not all about silent meditation. What better way to have a bit of a giggle together?
Are kids naturally mindful?
Watch a young child at play. Chances are they’ll be completely absorbed in their game. If something doesn’t go to plan, they can be distraught (and loud). Five minutes later, they’re running off to their next game. It doesn’t get more ‘in the moment’ than that. So you could say that preschoolers are naturally mindful. They’re aware of their emotions, but unable to regulate them.
Once kids reach primary school age, things change. They’re more in control of their feelings but can start voicing worries too. Mindfulness activities for kids can help children of all ages. And there’s real joy in exploring new ideas with a child who is still completely open-minded. It can also help them to avoid harmful mental habits in the first place.
Mindfulness activities for kids are proven to improve concentration and decision-making, including kids with ADHD. With your kids more at peace, and less anxious, It will help you get through another long day of parenting and improve your child’s long-term health. What’s not to like?
So, do you need to occupy your juniors before they get into mischief again? Or are you desperate to inject a little calm into your family life? Either way, we’ve got you covered. Read on for some great mindfulness activities for kids of all ages. And like with all MindPanda ideas, there isn’t a screen or an app in sight.
Mindfulness Activities for Kids No.1: Breathe easy
A focus on breathing is at the heart of mindfulness activities for kids. Changing the way you breathe has an immediate effect on your heart rate and blood pressure. And it works for children too as it’s never too young to get them started on effective breathing. Practice makes perfect, so a few minutes every day can do wonders. Here are three ideas for how you can get your little ones on board:
Blowing bubbles means you have to control your breath, making it slow and steady.
The reward is instant: a beautiful, shimmering bubble to chase across the garden or park. Have a competition to see who can make the biggest ones. Your children will be training their breathing muscles without even realising.If you’re staying in, ask your child to find a breathing buddy, like a favourite soft toy. Find a soft place for them to lie down on their back and put their buddy on their tummy. Explain that when they breathe in, their tummy should stick out a bit. And they can see if it’s working because their breathing buddy will come up to say hello.
The heartbeat exercise isn’t strictly about breathing, but it’s still useful for when you need kids to calm down.
Let’s say they’ve been running around. Ask them to sit down, close their eyes and focus on their heartbeat. They could even put a hand on their chest. How fast is it? How does the speed change? If it’s just the two of you, they could also feel your heartbeat and compare.
Breathing exercises are great for helping kids through transitions, like bedtime or getting ready to learn. A little goes a long way though. A minute or two is perfect to start with. Keep in mind that mindfulness is all about giving focus and attention to what you are doing, so when doing these types of exercises, encourage your little ones to focus on the sensations of the breath as it flows in and out. OH…And don’t forget to join in. Every parent deserves a few moments of quiet during a long day.
Mindfulness Activities for Kids No.2: With open eyes and ears
Using your senses is a key part of being ‘in the moment’. And observation is a great skill to have for any kind of learning. Here are a few fun suggestions to get you started – with different levels of preparation:
If you have a bit of time on your hands, why not set up a mindfulness scavenger hunt?
Make sure that the clues refer to different senses. For example, things you can smell, hear or touch. It works at home and outside. A guaranteed hit. Our stress balls are great for this as they combine touch and scent to help with this experience.
A mindfulness safari is easier to organise.
Ask your kids to imagine that they’re exploring a country they’ve never visited before. Go for a walk to find out everything there is to know about your new habitat. Ask them questions like the number of trees? Do the trees all have the same kind of leaf? How many insects or birds are there?
Look at the clouds together.
What shapes can you see? How fast or slow are the clouds moving? Can everyone see the same shapes or not? Mindfulness doesn’t have to be serious.
If you’re stuck indoors, why not try some blindfolded taste tests?
Or identify objects by touch? (Get one person to put them in a bag first.) There are lots of ways to use our senses more.
Sometimes it’s best to ditch the timetable and go with your child’s mood that day. (Not to mention the weather.) Mindfulness for kids works best when parents practice it too. How do you imagine life as a mindful family?
Mindfulness Activities for Kids No.3: Talk about feelings
Kids start to develop social and emotional skills from a young age. Give them the vocab and space to talk about their feelings. It’ll help them relate and feel close to other people. And it’ll build a firm foundation for good mental health as they grow. Here are a few more starter ideas for ten points:
Do you love crafts? Try making a mindful glitter jar together.
Help your child to fill an empty jam jar with water. (Leave a little gap at the top.) Then add glitter in different colours. For something extra fancy, stick little figures to the bottom first, like in a snow globe. Glue the lid on tight and leave to dry.
Shaking the glitter is a good analogy for strong emotions. It’s hard to see in a glitter storm, the same as when you’re angry. Sometimes it’s better to let things calm down first. This craft project is a great opportunity to talk to your kids about how they deal with feelings like anger.
If you have time on your hands, create some feeling faces with your child.
Make lots of eyes, mouths, noses and so on. Put them together on the outline of a face and take turns to guess how your ‘person’ is feeling. Are they angry, happy or surprised? Giving younger children words to label emotions can help them to express themselves. And to calm down when upset.
Make a wishing well.
This can be as simple as a container of water and some pennies. Or you can go full-on ‘Princess and the Frog’ – whatever your creativity will stretch to. Take turns making wishes with your child. Ask them to make wishes for themselves, the people they love and the people who annoy them. But they can only wish people well – no webbed feet, lightning strikes or imminent doom. This exercise is great for encouraging feelings of self-worth and empathy with others.
Have you got quarrelling siblings on your hands? It might be tempting to demand some immediate mindfulness for a bit of peace. But it’s best not to use mindfulness for discipline. Try to keep these activities just for fun, so that your kids can enjoy them more.
There are lots of other fun mindfulness activities for kids. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for your family. Please share your ideas and experiences in the comments below. We can’t wait to hear about them.
Stay safe, stay well, stay mindful.