Mindfulness for Kids

Kids feel the stress of the holiday season in different ways—disrupted schedules, crowds, loud noises—but nevertheless, just as acutely as adults.

A major difference is that children may not be equipped with the tools to handle the holiday hustle. Soothe jittery nerves by practicing mindfulness before their naptime or before bed. Not only will being mindful of the present moment help kids relax, but mindfulness exercises help to develop concentration, self awareness and emotional regulation.

Before you begin, explain to your child that mindfulness means awareness. It means paying attention to our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and whatever is going on around us right now.

Here are three mindfulness exercises to try with children age 6-10:

  1. Breathing mindfulness. Have your child choose their favorite stuffed animal, then lie down in bed and place it on their stomach. Have them breath deeply in silence for one minute, and notice how the stuffed animal moves up and down. Then, have them imagine that each thought in their head is a bubble, and with each breath, the bubbles are floating away.
  2. Body mindfulness. Have your child lie down, then have her squeeze every muscle in her body—hands into fists, shoulders by ears, stomach sucked in, toes clenched. After holding herself in this position for a few seconds, have her totally relax every muscle in her body. Ask her how she feels as she focuses on the relaxing sensation.
  3. Scent mindfulness. Have your child close his eyes, then hand him an object with a strong scent, such as an orange peel or a scented candle. Ask him to focus all his attention on that smell for a few seconds. Ask him to guess what the smell is, what it reminds him of and how it makes him feel.

Don't forget, mindfulness isn’t only for kids! Practice your own mindfulness exercises this holiday season to help defray the holiday stress.

What are your favorite ways to practice mindfulness in your family? Please share with us in the comments.

Photo credit: Travis Swan/flickr

Health and Wellness, Mindfulness for Kids, Tips for Parents Holiday stress relief, Mindfulness for kids