11 Simple But Effective Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Kids

While written for parents, this article is relevant for any leader, coach, friend, colleague or collaborator. It’s reprinted from an inspiring blog called Best for the Kids. It’s chock full of insights relevant to humans of all ages who want to live and learn. – MA

Let’s face it; we have lost certain skills because of high-tech machines and cheap services that do things we hate to do. Today, quite a few adults out there have childlike handwriting. They even suck at posing for a Facebook picture.

They can’t iron their clothes without burning their middle finger. Almost every adult out there seems to be in a hurry, but nobody reaches on time. Some adults can’t even cook instant noodles worth serving to any person on the face of this planet.

Well, enough of bashing! As long as you can teach mindfulness to your kids in a simple and effective manner, you have a great equalizer at your hands. It’s alright if you don’t know that yet. We have been sitting comfortably on this information the whole time.

So, it’s time to unleash it to the masses. Pardon our bashing! Glad, we were not there in person to witness those rolling eyes. Nevertheless, we are more than happy to compensate with the information you need and then walk out of the door without creating any more ruckus.

1. Practice Yoga

Signing up for a yoga class can be of great help over here because yoga develops mind-body awareness. By helping kids pay attention to the relationship between one’s mind and body, yoga promotes mindfulness—Wang & Hagins, 2016 study confirms this.

For instance, a kid may begin to notice the butterflies in his/her stomach when faced with a nervous or anxiety-filled situation. This awareness or mindfulness can help one cope with the situation better. Over here, one can indulge in deep breathing for few minutes to relax the tight muscles. What makes mindfulness a blessing is that it improves one’s overall quality of life.

2. Tune into Mindful Breathing

As the name introduces itself, mindful breathing involves breathing to increase awareness. By focusing on each breath, we become aware of the mind’s notorious policy of jumping from one thing to another. The simple act of breathing can force our mind to stop all its useless stunts. Not to forget the fact that mindful breathing is a good prescription for anxiety, fear, and restlessness.

As published on US National Library of Medicine official website, it’s a form of self-treatment. So, tune into your breath, and follow each breath and feel every bit of it in your body. You might want to throw in some practice hours before you introduce mindful breathing in your kid’s life.

3. The Power of Smell

Not many people out there realize that smell is one of the most powerful inbuilt message systems in our body. Believe it or not, a survey showed that as much 85% of the subjects remembered their childhood when they were exposed to the smell of Crayola crayons.

So, gather a bunch of fruits, flowers, and other household items and put your kid’s senses to the test. Ask them to close both their eyes and focus only on the smell of the object. Encourage them to think about how they feel as they dig into the smell. For instance, “The peanut butter makes me feel energetic.” The flower makes me feel relaxed.”

4. Practice Active Listening

To practice active listening, it’s better to take your kids out for a walk in a quiet place. On your walks, encourage your kids to be on silent mode for several moments so that they can listen to every sound that exists in nature. It could be the sound of the humming bird, blowing wind, or a nearby river. Let them listen to the sounds to silence their unruly, scattered mind. It’s not an experience technology (say, noise-cancelling headphones) can provide.

Over time, you will notice that your kids are no longer hearing, but actively listening by being more mindful than ever before. Similar to the above, if they are listening to music mindfully, it will yield better results as published by William Todd Anderson from the University of Kentucky.

5. Meditate with Your Kids

Damn, it’s so common for kids to disrupt us as soon as we sit down to meditate. Then, the drama unfolds. You scold them, they reply back, and the BS-alarm hits the roof. The whole affair turns out to be an unnecessary tussle between you guys. The best way to put an end to this tug of verbal war is to meditate with them. Of course, don’t aim for the sky right away. Actually, the benefits of meditation are endless.

You can start off by devoting no more than 5-10 minutes a day. To make the job easy, you can download the Headspace app. Millions of people out there are counting on this popular app for its simple and effective 10-minute meditation exercises. The 10-minute of togetherness would prove to be one of the best moments of the day.

6. Mindfulness While Eating

The best part about mindfulness is that it can be easily incorporated in your kid’s day to day activities such as eating. Before letting them have a bite at the banana, let them say a few words about the fruit. The banana is sweet. It does not have any seeds in it. The outer covering is green in color. It’s white from the inside. It grew from a tree.

The idea is to make them be more present while they indulge themselves in eating. In this manner, they are sure to enjoy the goodness of the banana all the more. This act of mindfulness will also teach them to appreciate the food served at the table. As you can see, you don’t have to do anything special over here. Simply coach them to speak a few words about the food they are consuming.

7. Model Mindfulness

You wouldn’t teach your kids how to swim if you have never been in the water yourself? Remember, you are the biggest role model for them. Kids always wish to morph themselves like their parents. With you on the same boat, it could make all the difference in the world. So, you can’t really go wrong with this approach.

Practicing mindfulness in your own way of living in the best possible manner you can leave behind a positive and encouraging trail for your little ones to follow suit. Also, take the opportunity to convince them that it’s perfectly fine to get off track once in a while, and explain to them how they can gently come back to mindfulness. So, get going and establish your own practice.

8. Play Mindfulness Games

Games and kids are inseparable, right? How about incorporating some games to teach them the art of mindfulness? It will surely be a blast. After all, fun combined with any form of learning or coaching always yields better results. You can start off with simple games such as ‘guess the object’ game. Get about half a dozen household items and have your kids touch and feel them with closed eyes to tell you about their findings.

Remember the spoon race game from your childhood, where you had to hold a spoon in your mouth with an object in it and run towards the finish line? This game is good for both body awareness and focus. Want to take the game to the next level? Ask your kids to walk sideways or backwards.

9. Stop and Notice Trick

Teach your kids to be good observers. Whether they are waiting for the bus, a doctor on a personal appointment, or a friend who doesn’t show up on time, let them tune into their senses and notice the surroundings. You can join them, and together you guys can share what you notice with each other.

What better way to put the waiting period to best use? Your kids won’t mind their spare timebeing spent in this manner. It might also help them with the boredom, while they are waiting for someone to join them.

10. Mindfulness Apps

Mindfulness apps are trending these days. So, why not introduce your kids to mobile apps that are specifically designed for encouraging mindfulness in kids. Most of the apps carry different voices, workflow, and styles of meditation techniques for everyday practice. Not all the apps out there are a bombshell, but some of these apps can do a miraculous job.

Believe it or not, there is an extensive collection of mindfulness apps out there on the market today. It’s all about finding the right one that works wonders for your kid. Your best bet would be to check the reviews for the app before giving it a shot.

11. The Hunting Technique

As kids, how often did we pretend as if we were hunting although there was no target at sight? We simply loved the feel of hunting. Nobody questioned us when we returned home empty-handed. There was zero pressure on us and that left us to do whatever we thought was best for the moment.

While listening to every sound and watching for every slight movement in the surrounding, there was nothing that slipped our eyes, nose, and ears. Even a slight movement in the environment would make our senses hyper-active. We were so much immersed in the present that we paid little to no attention to the fact that we were supposed to reach home early. Moreover, we didn’t realize at that time that we were unconsciously practicing mindfulness.

How about incorporating the same hunting technique in your kid’s life? To do so, you don’t have to head to the jungles. You can play the hunting game in your backyard itself. Perhaps, you could play this game in your mom’s garden or yard. All you need is a quiet and open space. Too much noise will spoil the fun.

Remember, the purpose is not to kill an innocent creature, but to practice the art of mindfulness. With you guiding them on how to use all the senses, the hunting game will surely trigger their mind to be in a state of mindfulness.

Other Mindfulness Suggestions
  • Practice mindfulness when your kids are ready and not necessarily when you are ready. When your kids are itching to go outside and have a blast with their friends, it would be difficult to tame them indoors to practice mindfulness. So, choose the perfect moment for practice and don’t chase them when they are bursting with energy and itching to run out to play.
  • Kids with breathing difficulties such as asthma may have trouble following the breathing technique. Over here, you can resort to some other methods to teach them mindfulness. Furthermore, it’s advisable to set a daily routine for practicing mindfulness. In this manner, kids would be better prepared for the task.
  • Mindfulness can be easily incorporated into our daily activities such as eating, showering, brushing teeth, etc. The key is to pay deep attention to all the senses involved in the act. This will help kids to be focused on the present. Make no mistake; it’s a positive action and not a disciplinary tool so be sure to engage mindfulness in positive situations.
  • Never force a kid to practice mindfulness. It should be an act of willingness because we want our kids to direct their attention to the moment deliberately. According to The American Psychological Association, mindfulness can be helpful in treating depression. Unless the kid is receptive to the coaching, it won’t work.
Final Words

No one knows your kid better than you. So, use your knowledge and intuition to choose the appropriate mindfulness technique that will work best for your child. Moreover, it’s best to keep mindfulness sessions short. Longer sessions can be a big turn off for your kids.

Usually, five to ten minutes of everyday practice should suffice. The key lies in practicing consistently. It’s the best way to stay in the game and entail all the benefits that mindfulness can offer. So, do keep an eye on the ball at all times.

As you may know, the mind of a mischievous kid is always ready to pull off stunts or stray from the pre-defined path. Therefore, your involvement will play a great role over here to help them bounce back to mindfulness.

This article was reprinted with permission from BestForTheKids.com.

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