What are some mindfulness activities for kids?

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In this blog we will explore some effective mindfulness activities for kids.

We will also briefly discuss what mindfulness is and whether it is effective for children. 

What are some mindfulness activities for kids?

Here are some fun mindfulness activities for your children or children that are under your care- be it in the classroom or be it that you are fostering them.

You can assist the child in carrying out any of these activities while also helping them understand why it is important for their health and mental well-being. 

Mindful Posing

This fun exercise is for children who love superheroes or other role models who are famous for their poses. 

This is one of the starting exercises that you can use to introduce mindfulness of posture and possessions in the child.

Let the children go somewhere where they feel safe and tell them that poses such as these can help them tap into their inner strength. 

They can choose any role model or superhero that they love and try out their poses for example:

The Superman pose where the child is standing with the feet just wider than the hips, fists clenched, and arms reaching out to the sky. 

This pose allows them to stretch their body as tall as possible, all the while taking deep breaths as they take notice of how they are feeling as they do this pose. 

Another pose for them to try out is the Wonder Woman pose where the child is standing tall with legs wider than hip-width apart and hands or fists placed on the hips (Karen Young, 2017).

This pose allows them to ground their body as firm as possible, all the while taking deep breaths as they take notice of how they are feeling as they do this pose. 

Spidey-Senses

This exercise involves introducing the children to become aware of the sensations around them related to smell, sight, hearing, taste, and touch.

For this exercise ask them to get comfortable and tell them that this particular exercise is something similar to spider man’s superpowers- spidey-sense.

Encourage them to pause and focus their attention on the present space around them and focus their attention on what is around them. (Ackerman, 2017)

The Mindful Jar

For this activity you will need a clear jar and fill it up with water. 

Next, put in some glitter and shake the jar for the glitter to swirl. 

Then, use this script to give the children a lesson on emotions when they are distressed. 

“Imagine that the glitter is like your thoughts when you’re stressed, mad or upset. See how they whirl around and make it really hard to see clearly? That’s why it’s so easy to make silly decisions when you’re upset – because you’re not thinking clearly. Don’t worry this is normal and it happens to all of us (yep, grownups too).”

Then place down the jar and continue,

Now watch what happens when you’re still for a couple of moments. Keep watching. See how the glitter starts to settle and the water clears? Your mind works the same way. When you’re calm for a little while, your thoughts start to settle and you start to see things much clearer. Deep breaths during this calming process can help us settle when we feel a lot of emotions” (Karen Young, 2017).

This exercise introduces how emotions work, and what mindfully pasusing or resting can do to help them cope with their emotions.

Ask them to make their own jars at home and let them practice with one emotion at a time when they feel stressed.

Mindful Walking.

This mindfulness exercise incorporates physical exercise as well for the child and you will have to assist them.

Take a walk outside with the child or around the house and start by asking them to pay attention to the sensation of their feet in contact with the ground. 

Next, ask them to expand their awareness to the sounds and smells. 

Also, then ask them to expand their vision to what you see. 

Next, remind them to let go of other distractions and walk, as if being mindful of every step is vitally important. (Ackerman, 2017)

Observe a Leaf for Five Minutes

Observation in mindfulness helps to increase awareness and bring mindful focus and intention to one object or one aspect of our daily lives instead of being stretched thin.

To do these exercises, ask the child to Pick up a leaf, hold it in their hand, and give it their full attention for five minutes.

Ask them to notice the colours, the shape, the texture, and the patterns as they align themselves to the experiences which involve their thoughts, feelings with the experiences rather than being distracted. (Ackerman, 2017)

Mindful Eating for Four Minutes

Mindful eating is another exercise to help children develop a healthy relationship with their food so as to develop a healthy behaviour when it comes to diet and nutrition. 

To do these exercises, ask the child to pay attention to the food that they are holding, notice the feeling of it in their hands. 

Then ask them to notice the texture, the weight, the colour, and bring their attention to how it smells.

Finally, move on to eating, but ask them to do so slowly and with concentrated attention. As they chew their food, remind them to notice the taste and the texture of the food. (Ackerman, 2017)

Is mindfulness effective for kids?

Yes, mindfulness activities and interventions are very effective for young mouldable children in helping them develop mental resilience, emotional literacy, as well as for them to cope with stress.

A review  was published in 2018 where the researchers conducted a meta-analysis on the effects of mindfulness interventions on cognitions- thought patterns, and mental health of both children and teenagers.

The meta-analysis included a study of 33 independent researches on the Mindfulness based interventions (MBIs) for both children and teens. 

The results of the study found that there were significant positive results for mindfulness interventions when it came to its impact on Executive Functioning, Attention, Depression, Anxiety/Stress and Negative Behaviours.

The researchers concluded that mindfulness interventions for youths was effective and a key strategy in improving the mental health and wellbeing of youths.

A more recent study was conducted in  2020 where mindfulness was examined in the context of primary school children.

The study explored whether mindfulness interventions can help increase life- satisfaction, positive outlook and effective emotion regulation in children of this age group. The participants that consisted of 64 children between the ages of 9-10 were subjected to 6 weeks of mindfulness program- education and exercises. 

The researchers found that after training, children who were given the intervention and training showed significant improvements in mindful awareness, positive or optimistic outlook, life satisfaction and emotional regulation. 

Thus mindfulness interventions is an effective intervention of mental health and well-being for not only adults but also children and adolescents. 

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a state of being and more proficiently a way of life where the individual actively imagines in the act of cultivating full awareness of the present. 

This awareness of the presence is related to both the world outside and around the individual and the world within the individual in terms of thoughts and feelings.

A person who practises mindfulness may begin with putting effort to bring about all of their senses to focu on what they’re experiencing right now however, over time, it becomes a way of life- done without much effort and with a greater understanding of one’s self. 

Mindfulness is the experience of being present with the here and now. The state of Mindfulness is an experience of your present feelings, thoughts, and behaviour. It is the act of paying attention to yourself, your body, and the world around you.

It is the complete opposite of living in an autopilot mode of existence which can cause various problems, mental health related issues, stress, and an overall poor sense of well being. 

Being mindful requires you to let go of the past, and the worries of the future and simply focus on the present and the things you can do in the present. This can help you move past unnecessary anxious and depressive thoughts that are unnecessary and often causing dysfunction. 

Mindfulness is widely accepted and encouraged by philosophers, psychologists, and spiritual guides, and has garnered traction in mainstream society with various gurus and social media influencers talking about the practice. 

Although originally articulated as a part of Buddhism,  it is often taught independent of religious connotation and it is now seen as a lifestyle choice that can help improve well-being.

There are Buddhist themes in modern-day mindfulness, such as meditation, breathing exercises, and being one with the world- however, in modern or secular mindfulness, there is no need to connect religious or spiritual meaning to one’s practice of mindfulness. 

Meaning that one does not have to adhere to the Buddhist faith to be mindful. Infact, there has been a rising trend of mindfulness now being part of the science of wellbeing where mindfulness practises have been studied scientifically and empirically to help researchers understand what mindfulness does and how it impacts wellbeing. 

Conclusion

In this blog we have explored some effective mindfulness activities for kids.

We have also briefly discussed what mindfulness is and whether it is effective for children. 

FAQ related to Mindfulness activities for kids

What exactly is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the experience of being present with the here and now. The state of Mindfulness is an experience of your present feelings, thoughts, and behaviour. It is the act of paying attention to yourself, your body, and the world around you.

It is the complete opposite of living in an autopilot mode of existence which can cause various problems, mental health related issues, stress, and an overall poor sense of well being. 

What are examples of mindfulness?

  • Mindfulness can mean being aware of your breath and your body. 
  • Focusing your attention on the food you are eating 
  • Paying attention to how you are feeling.
  • Being attentive to your behaviour towards other people

What are the 3 qualities of mindfulness?

The three characteristics of mindfulness are:

  • Intention to cultivate awareness 
  • Attention to the present moment
  • Attitude that is non-judgmental

References

Getting Started with Mindfulness. Mindful.org. Retrieved on 3rd February 2022. https://www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/

Ackerman.C. 22 Mindfulness Exercises, Techniques & Activities For Adults (+ PDF’s). Positive psychology. Retrieved on 3rd February 2022. https://positivepsychology.com/mindfulness-exercises-techniques-activities/

Ackerman.C. 25 Fun Mindfulness Activities for Children and Teens. Positive psychology. Retrieved on 3rd February 2022. https://positivepsychology.com/mindfulness-for-children-kids-activities/

Karen Young. (2017). Mindfulness for children: Fun, effective ways to strengthen mind, body, spirit. Retrieved on 3rd February 2022. www.heysigmund.com

Sanger KL, Dorjee D. Mindfulness training for adolescents: A neurodevelopmental perspective on investigating modifications in attention and emotion regulation using event-related brain potentials. Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2015;15(3):696-711. doi:10.3758/s13415-015-0354-7

Crescentini C, Capurso V, Furlan S, Fabbro F. Mindfulness-Oriented Meditation for Primary School Children: Effects on Attention and Psychological Well-Being. Front Psychol. 2016;7:805. Published 2016 Jun 7. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00805

Amundsen, R., Riby, L.M., Hamilton, C. et al. Mindfulness in primary school children as a route to enhanced life satisfaction, positive outlook and effective emotion regulation. BMC Psychol 8, 71 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-020-00428-y

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