These days people are much more aware of their mental health than they ever were before. We want out children to be aware of their own feelings and emotions, so by the time they reach adulthood, they have the skills to manage their emotions effectively. As a teacher, it is something I work on regularly with the children in my class, but as a Mom I am more determined than ever to ensure Arlo can recognise his own emotional needs.
Mindfulness activities can be a powerful tool in promoting these important skills in young children. By focusing on the present moment and becoming more aware of their thoughts and feelings, children can improve their ability to regulate their emotions and respond to challenging situations in a healthy way.
In this blog post, I’m going to share with you ten of my favourite mindfulness activities to support your child’s mental health development!
Mindful breathing is a simple yet effective mindfulness exercise that can help children become more aware of their breath and its connection to their body. To do this exercise, have your child sit or lie down in a comfortable position and take a deep breath in through their nose, and exhale slowly through their mouth.
Encourage your child to focus on the sensation of their breath moving in and out of their body, and guide them to repeat this process for several minutes.
You can use visual aids like a bubble wand to make this exercise more engaging for younger children.
The body scan is a mindfulness exercise that encourages children to focus on different parts of their body and become more aware of any physical sensations they may be experiencing.
To do this exercise, have your child lie down in a comfortable position and guide them through a slow and intentional scan of their body, asking them to notice any areas of tension or discomfort.
You can use gentle touch or visualization techniques to make this exercise more engaging for young children.
This is a great step towards helping children to identify different actions relating to their emotions. For example, clenched fists for anger, sweat for nerves, butterflies for nervousness and so on.
Mindful walking is a mindfulness exercise that encourages children to focus on the present moment and become more aware of their surroundings.
To do this exercise, take a walk with your child and encourage them to focus on the sensation of their feet on the ground and the movement of their body as they walk.
Encourage your child to notice their surroundings and focus on the present moment, rather than getting lost in their thoughts or distractions.
This can create great links between peacefulness and your child’s local area. For example, every time they see the neighbours rose bush they may feel calmer. It is great to do this on the way to school, too. It means as they pass each sight on the journey they will relax!
Gratitude is an important aspect of mindfulness that can help children develop a positive outlook and become more appreciative of the good things in their life.
To do this exercise, encourage your child to think of something they are grateful for, such as a favourite toy or a special friend, and guide them to describe this thing in detail.
You can also encourage your child to create a gratitude journal or practice gratitude in other creative ways.
For younger children, they could simply draw or take a photograph of something that makes them feel gratitude. For older children, they could record something they are grateful for on a post it note and put them into a jar. Seeing the jar full is a very powerful way of reminding children how lucky they are!
Colouring and simple activities, such as playdough boards, are a popular way for children to find some peace. It is especially great for those after school periods when we need something calming to occupy little minds!
To maximise the mindfulness when completing activities, encourage your child to colour slowly and intentionally, focusing on the sensory experience. Encourage your child to take breaks to stretch and refocus their attention as needed.
Don’t forget, you can find a ton of mindfulness activities inside The Little Learning Hub to support your child. Find out more here.
Mindful listening is a mindfulness exercise that encourages children to become more aware of the sounds around them and to focus on the present moment.
To do this exercise, guide your child to sit quietly and focus on the sounds they can hear, such as birds chirping or the sound of the wind.
Encourage your child to notice the different qualities of the sounds, such as their pitch or volume, and to take deep breaths as they listen.