As parents recognise the importance of mental health and starting early with their children, mindfulness toys are becoming more popular. The goal of mindfulness toys for kids is to develop the skill of being present.
Something even as adults battle to achieve sustainably!
Studies have shown the positive benefits of kids mindfulness activities. One study found that regular mindfulness activities help to develop behavioural qualities like self-regulation. The sort of independence many parents seek to instil in their kids.
Although it might seem fun, play is a significant part of a child’s development. Incorporating mindfulness toys and mindfulness playtime is, therefore, crucial for long-term growth.
What is Mindfulness for Kids?
When we practice mindfulness, we’re bringing the automatic, unconscious decisions into our conscious mind. By doing this, we become more mindful of our thoughts and emotions and how we impact those around us.
This mindfulness principle is the same for adults and kids, but the mechanisms we use are different. For kids mindfulness, the primary mechanism is play.
What are Mindfulness Toys for Kids?
With the mindfulness definition in mind, mindfulness toys for kids are simply tools to help develop the skill of being present and mindful.
For example, MindPanda developed SnapHappy, an emotional awareness game for kids to understand feelings and emotions better.
Unlike regular toys, mindfulness toys and games encourage children to verbalise what they are doing while playing.
Mindfulness Toys and Games
Here are some mindfulness toys and inspiration you might want to consider for your children.
Before getting started with any mindfulness activity, kids need to be in the right frame of mind. To get into a state of calm, start with a simple breathing meditation.
- Sit comfortably as a family and ask everyone to close their eyes.
- Ask everyone to breathe normally while counting each inhalation and exhalation silently in your head. For example, breath in, 1, out 2, in 3, out 4, and so on. When you get to 10, start again.
Kids battle to focus on this exercise for very long, so 1 – 2 minutes should be enough for them to get into a calm, relaxed state.
Try to practice this exercise regularly so kids can start to develop the discipline of sitting calmly and still. As they get older, meditation will be familiar and help to build a habit.
Once everyone is calm, it’s time for a mindfulness toy or game.
MindPanda SnapHappy Game
MindPanda’s SnapHappy card game is an excellent mindfulness toy for kids. The game helps develop social skills and emotional intelligence in an engaging game for one to eight players.
SnapHappy is a fun and effective way for parents to learn about their child’s understanding of emotions. It’s also great for mindfulness as SnapHappy encourages kids to be present and mindful of how they feel.
Kid’s Mindfulness Scent Game
Fragrances have fantastic physiological effects. One study found that aromatherapy is helpful for the prevention and treatment of emotional distress.
Our sense of smell triggers feeling and emotion, and our Mindfulness Stress Balls are perfect as a mindfulness toy for kids. The stress balls are great for adults too ;).
MindPanda’s stress balls come as three in a pack so that you can play three separate rounds of this scent game.
How to play:
- As a family, sit in a circle on the floor or comfortable place where you can sit across from each other.
- Ask the first (or only) child to close their eyes, and then place the stress ball in their palm.
- Without opening their eyes, ask your child to inspect the ball only using their hands.
- Ask your child to tell your child to describe the experience. How does the ball feel in your hand? When you squeeze it, what happens? Does it make you feel anything?
- If they haven’t already smelt the aromatherapy stress ball, ask them to hold it close to their face and smell the ball. What does the ball smell like? What does it remind you of? How does the smell make you feel, i.e.: happy, sad?
The stress balls come in three different fragrances, jasmine, lemon, and peppermint. Here is a little insight into each fragrance and why we chose to use them for our stress balls.
- Jasmine evokes a sense of alertness in humans. Research has shown jasmine can boost one’s mood and develop a sense of calm. Using a placebo, one study found that the smell of jasmine oil produced both physical and mental benefits.
- Peppermint is a beautiful smelling herb, with research indicating it could have positive cognition and mood effects for healthy individuals. A study found peppermint enhances memory and increased mental alertness.
- Lemon aromatherapy studies have found that inhaling the scent alleviates both physical and psychological stress.
Flying a Kite
You probably didn’t think a kite was a mindfulness toy for kids, did you? A kite provides the opportunity for two mindfulness activities, making the kite and flying it.
Whether you decide to make the kite yourself from scratch or assemble a store-bought one, the process of building a kite is fun and immersive. Building a kite allows you to let your child figure things out.
While helping construct the kite, ask questions about the different parts and why they think each element is necessary. What will happen in the wind? Will the construction be strong enough?
Flying a kite requires a certain amount of skill and concentration, the perfect opportunity for a mindfulness exercise. The goal is to get your child to be mindful and present without annoying them with a barrage of questions.
Consider asking your child these questions:
- Where are you going to fly the kite? What obstacles or dangers might you encounter?
- How does it feel flying a kite? Can they compare it to any other activity they do?
- If you built the kite yourselves, is there anything they think could be better about the construction?
Building a House of Cards
Building a house of cards requires intense concentration and patience. When paired with a breathing exercise, building a house of cards is an excellent mindfulness game for kids.
- As someone picks up a card, they breathe in.
- After the card is positioned, they breathe out.
When the house of cards topples, ask what happened and what your child can do to prevent it from happening again?
Making a Sensory Bottle
Like building a kite, sensory or calming bottles are great dual-purpose mindfulness toys for kids. Therapists often use sensory bottles to help calm and relax children, especially in moments of stress.
The first mindfulness activity is making the sensory bottle, and the second is watching everything swirl and settle, much like a snow globe.
Here is what you need for a sensory bottle:
- A transparent 1 or 2 litre (33 oz or 67 oz) bottle
- Glitter – as many colours as you like
- Food colouring
- Water beads
- Vegetable glycerine
- Any other fun accessories – lego, buttons, that sort of thing
Follow these video instructions to help put together your sensory bottle.
The best mindfulness toys will encourage your child to focus and express their emotions. Keep in mind that mindfulness toys will differ depending on the child’s age, cognitive ability, maturity etc. Finding a suitable mindfulness toy might require some testing.
Any toy or activity where you can communicate with your child is practising mindfulness. Our SnapHappy game is the perfect example. The game encourages families to be present and mindful of their emotions.
The breathing exercise we described earlier in this article is another simple way for families to practice mindfulness together.
Good alternatives to regular toys are items that require children to focus—for example, building a model ship or a challenging Lego set.