Top 10 mindfulness exercises for kids
Try these simple mindfulness techniques with your children if they are feeling anxious at home – they will help keep your family calm and centered.
Mindfulness is useful for children and adults alike, with kids as young as nursery age learning about it in school. Watch a child absorbed in play and you’ll see they are mini mindfulness masters!
What is mindfulness and why do kids need it?
Mindfulness is paying attention, noticing what’s happening outside of you, as well as your thoughts and feelings, and letting it all be as it is. It’s a skill that helps us cope with big emotions and challenging experiences and, just like a muscle, it’s something we can all build with practice.
Mindfulness is an especially useful tool for helping children manage the potential stresses and anxieties of moving through the developmental stages from infants and toddlers through to school age and adolescence. As well as helping kids to reduce levels of depression and stress, it is also thought to help increase their focus and attention, as well as compassion.
10 easy mindfulness exercises for kids and parents
1. Visualise your safe place – to feel grounded
Where are your favourite soothing places in nature? You can visit them anytime in your mind. You could write a journey to your calm safe place, describing with all your senses how it feels to be there.
2. Balloon belly breathing – to soothe
Lie down somewhere comfy and imagine there is a balloon in your tummy. As you breathe in, imagine the balloon slowly inflates. As you breathe out, the balloon effortlessly deflates. Children can rest their favourite toy on their tummy and let them go along for a calming ride.
3. Warrior pose – for confidence and concentration
Stand up tall with your feet wide apart. Turn your right toes out and press your left heel away. Bend your right knee deeply, stretch your arms out at shoulder height and make like a surfer. Hang ten for a few relaxed breaths, feeling the strength of your body, then shake out your legs and try it out on the other side. This is a great distractor from worried thoughts.
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4. Sound meditation – to fuel curiosity
Snuggle down somewhere safe, close your eyes and listen to all the sounds around you. What can you hear? The clink of coffee cups, snippets of conversation, sounds from nature? Get curious and feel the buzz of life around you.
5. Savour your food – to encourage gratitude
The next time you have your favourite treat, make it a ritual of happiness and thanks. Don’t let a second of pleasure pass you by unnoticed – the scent, how it feels in your hand, against your lips, the flavour on your tongue, the texture as you chew and the sensation as you finally swallow it. Even more delicious when you savour it!
6. Embrace music – to switch up your mood
Harness the mood boosting power of music by making your own playlists – one that helps you feel peaceful, one to help you focus and another to give you a feel-good hit. A good old sing always lifts the spirits, too.
7. Make your mind garden beautiful – to grow happy thoughts
There is a garden in your mind, made by all your thoughts. Thoughts you enjoy plant the seeds for flowers you love. Worries or nasty thoughts plant the seeds for weeds. Now every garden has weeds so it’s not about eliminating unhappy thoughts, but you can choose where you direct the sun and water by nurturing the thoughts that help you feel good. It all comes down to where you place your attention so choose wisely to grow a beautiful mind garden.
8. Legs up the wall – to soften and drop
Grab a blanket and a pillow, take a seat with your side against the wall and enjoy some time out. Roll onto your back, slide your legs up the wall, arrange the pillow under your head and drape the blanket over you for comfort. Now let your body flop and drop, the whole length of your legs held by the wall. There is nothing to be done right now and nowhere else to be.
9. Get creative – to express yourself
Let your feelings out with a spot of art. The choice is yours! You can journal, colour a mandala, make a model from recycling, paint up a storm or make your own animation on Scratch. Enjoy immersing yourself in the act of being creative – no hard work, just fun.
Visit our activities for kids page for plenty of inspiring projects to try.
10. Hug it out – to feel connected
Cuddles are like food for the soul, helping us feel safe and calm. Enjoy building your mindfulness muscles by giving a loving hug your full attention. Can you feel your heart beating, wrapped up in care? Tell yourself or your child: you are safe, you are loved, you are held.
Discover more on mindfulness from our partners at In the Moment:
- Sleepy time: A sleep meditation podcast for children
- How to cope when the news makes you feel stressed
- 5 easy ways to bring mindfulness into your daily routine
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