For many children, living in the immediate moment is innate. Kids just have a knack for leaning into the present moment and just being. However, there are circumstances that cause all children to worry about things that have already happened, or become anxious about what the future will bring. Mindfulness techniques can help children find peace during these moments of inner turmoil. Below are six calming techniques that may help your child cope with frustrating feelings.
1. Bunny Breath: Kids love this one! Tell your child to imagine that they are a bunny smelling a lovely flower. Instruct them to take three quick inhales through their bunny nose, then release their breath through their mouth with an audible sigh. They may repeat this series of three quick inhales and one relaxed exhale as many times as needed to feel calm.
2. Belly Breath: Your child can use a favorite stuffed animal or toy for this one! Have them lie down and then place the toy or stuffed animal on their belly. Instruct them to inhale and exhale slowly through their nose while observing the toy rise and fall. They may continue this breath for as long as needed to feel relaxed.
3. Horsey Breath: This one seems to work well when your child needs to let go of an emotion. Have your child take a deep inhale through their nose, hold it, then release it through their mouth with fluttery lips like a horse whinnying. Have your child repeat this until they feel unburdened.
Mindfulness Games or Toys
4. Calm Down Jar: Calm Down Jars are created with a mixture of water, glitter, food coloring, and glycerin (or other thickener). They can help a child calm down by bringing their focus back to the present moment. They work similarly to focusing on the flickering flames of a bonfire. Have your child shake or turn the jar, and then observe the glitter fluttering down. In our house, we added a random gold heart to one of our jars and it provides our daughter with something to focus on as she soothes herself.
5. Sense Walk: Go for a walk together, preferably in nature, and focus on one sense at a time. Stop for a moment and close your eyes. Notice all the sounds around you, notice the sounds within you. Next, focus on what you can smell. Open your eyes and continue your walk. Pay attention to everything you see, feel, and maybe even taste along the way!
6. Make a Nature Mandala: Have you ever felt incredibly present and focused when creating something? Introduce your child to that same feeling by creating a nature mandala together. Gather leaves, rocks, shells, sticks, flower petals, etc. Have your child select their favorite items and create a small circle out of these items, this will be the center. Instruct your child to keep arranging items in a pattern outside of the center to make the circle grow. They can change the pattern as many times as they would like as they work their way out from the center of the mandala.
When you practice these techniques together, you will start to make mindfulness part of your daily routine. Demonstrate mindful breathing and discuss how it makes you feel. Not only will you be giving our child valuable coping skills for the future, you will also strengthen your bond and have some fun together while practicing these activities.
What mindfulness games/activities do you like to practice with your child?