a kid relaxing in garden
Parenting

Simple Tips To Teach Mindfulness To Your Kids

My six year old, like other children of their age, are prone to feeling emotional, not knowing how to deal with it, letting it get the best of them, all translating into bad behavior. Or simply doing inappropriately, as children do from time to time, and then reacting badly to the consequences.

To be honest, I’m a little like that, and I don’t have the excuse of being six.

So I’ve been looking into mindfulness activities for and with my kids in order to help them become more aware of their emotions. Mindfulness is a difficult notion for me to grasp; it appears abstract and does not come naturally. Mindfulness techniques that I had done as an adult included breathing and meditations, but they didn’t simply convert into something that children could comprehend and perform.

I did a bit of research online (as you do these days), and came across a great article on Huffington Post by Sarah Rudell. This gave me a few starting points and I also used my own experiences to influence practices. So I shall tell you about the three main exercises that I have used with them and fill you in on how effective they have been.

boy standing near tree

‘The Magic Jar’

I gave this name to the first exercise I tried because it literally feel like magic is happening. I was inspired to try it out in the summer holidays trying to deal with sibling arguments and their fallouts.

The idea for this came from Sarah, who calls it a ‘mind jar’ and here are the making instructions from her. It is simply a jar containing glitter and water, much like a snow globe, but without the figurine in the middle. I was telling one of my friends about the jar and she commented that she would be afraid her daughter’s anger would break the jar. We haven’t had this issue but I reckon there are plenty of plastic containers you could use instead of glass.

The idea is to vigorously shake the jar and then hold it and watch the glitter while it all settles. I tried it out myself before I did it with the children, and I was amazed at how great it felt – it really did slow and calm my thoughts and give me breathing space to change how I was feeling.

The girls quickly got the idea and love how it makes them feel. At first they were even asking to use it like a toy, because they liked it so much. My daughter said ‘When I am cross The Magic Jar works because at the end I feel happy again’. This has been brilliant for times when reasoning has been thrown out with the bathwater and there’s too much anger for a cuddle.

‘Breathing Bunny’

This mindfulness practice is again from Sarah’s article, although she calls it ‘breathing buddy’. My middle daughter is particularly emotional and prone to outbursts and tantrums and her breathing can go completely awry – very shallow and fast. Again this makes it difficult to have a conversation about whatever the issue is and is physiologically not great either – possibly leading hyperventilation causing dizziness, headache, weakness, fainting, and even seizures.

Bunny was her special toy when she was a baby so that is why we picked it, and the exercise is named after that because it is only this one of my daughters that I have used it with. However it could be any cuddly toy. When she gets in one of those moments, we lie down on the floor and place her bunny on her tummy, and she concentrates on taking deep breaths from her stomach so that the bunny moves up and down.

It is amazing how almost instantaneous this can be, normally within a few breaths she is giggling about it and totally relaxed, and then we have a chance to discuss the events that led up to the emotional reactions with a more balanced approach. Remarkably (for me), she will now actually ask to do this exercise when she is feeling the emotions rise within her. She says ‘It makes me feel calm’.

‘Night, Night Body’

The next mindfulness practice I started to use with them was inspired by a body scan meditation. I remember doing yoga nidra during my second pregnancy and loving how relaxed it made me. We call our practice ‘Night, Night Body’ as it is something I use when they get into bed to calm them down before they attempt to go to sleep.

Now bedtime has for many years been tricky in our house – when my twins got to about 3 years old, they suddenly realized that they had their best friend in the room with them and they weren’t completely shattered, so they started having a party. One night turned into every night, and it’s been like that ever since!

We have tried many solutions varying from shouting and punishments, through lying on the floor to interrupt and stop them interacting, to story CDs and leaving them to it. Well I’m sure that you will guess that the draconian approach didn’t work at all and spending two or three hours waiting for them to go to sleep was incredibly tough on me and my husband. The story CDs have been great at calming down the party atmosphere but they haven’t particularly helped them to fall asleep quicker and that’s always a problem the next day.

Read also: 7 Simple Steps For Your Most Restful Sleep Ever

Anyhow I have digressed slightly. ‘Night, Night Body’ is another technique that I have been using to create calm at bedtime and get them to be mindful of their bodies. It is a simple premise really – they lie in their beds on their side and I simply touch parts of their body and wish it goodnight, for example ‘night night feet’, and work from the bottom of their bodies to the top pausing for each body part. I normally travel from feet to legs, knees, back, shoulders, arms, hands, tummy, chest, head, and then nose, mouth, ears and eyes.

Again they love this, and will ask to have it every night, and I do it unless there is something urgent I have to do. Their comments have been that it makes them fell sleepy, even though it probably lasts only 1 minute. It is certainly helpful in making them slow down their thoughts and we think probably go to sleep quicker.

Easy mindfulness for all

All of these techniques they have been especially easy to implement and the children are actually so adaptable and accepting of new experiences that they have been keen to try these things out with me. Overall these exercises have definitely helped me and the children deal better with their emotional issues, so we will be continuing to use them as and when required and adding in more that we find along the way.

Read also: How To Find Balance in a Chaotic World

I think that I have also benefited from the practices as they are quick and easy to slip into my life too, although I have largely been using other ones not discussed here. I would recommend quick and easy mindfulness for all of us, it doesn’t have to take big chunks out of your day and it does help to make you feel more on top of everything. Lastly I would like to thank Sarah for sharing these mindful activities.

AboutKara

I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Kara Bout It