Did you know that mindfulness activities for kids can be incredibly beneficial in helping them deal with everyday stress and worries? Here are 20 simple and fun activities that you can share with your audience so that they can encourage their kids to feel empowered to manage their emotions.
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- Mindful Posing – An easy way for children to dip their toes into mindfulness is through body poses. Have your child go somewhere quiet, a place they feel safe and tell them to try one of these poses. The Superman: Stand with the feet just wider than the hips, fists clenched, and arms reached out to the sky, stretching the body as tall as possible. The Wonder Woman: Stand tall with legs wider than hip-width apart and hands or fists placed on the hips.
- Spidey Senses – Instruct your child to turn-on their “Spidey senses”, or the super-focused senses of smell, sight, hearing, taste, and touch that Spiderman uses to keep tabs on the world around him. This will encourage them to pause and focus their attention on the present, opening their awareness to the information their senses bring in. This is a classic mindfulness exercise and encourages observation and curiosity—great skills for any human to practice.
- Safari – The Safari exercise is a great way to help kids learn mindfulness. This activity turns an average, everyday walk into an exciting new adventure. Tell your child that you will be going on a safari: their goal is to notice as many birds, bugs, creepy-crawlies, and any other animals as they can. Anything that walks, crawls, swims, or flies is of interest, and they’ll need to focus all of their senses to find them, especially the little ones.
- Blowing mindfulness bubbles – Have your child focus on taking in a deep, slow breath, and exhaling steadily to fill the bubble. Encourage them to pay close attention to the bubbles as they form, detach, and pop or float away.
- Texture bag – Place several small, interestingly shaped or textured objects in a bag. Have your child reach in and touch an object, one at a time, and describe what they are touching. Make sure they don’t take the object out of the bag, forcing them to use only their sense of touch to explore the object.
- Blindfolded taste tests – Use a blindfold for your child and have them experience eating a small food, like a raisin or a cranberry, as if it was their first time eating it.
- Body scan – The body scan is a key practice in mindfulness, and an easy one to teach to children. Have your child lie down on their back on a comfortable surface and close their eyes; Tell them to squeeze every muscle in their body as tight as they can. Tell them to squish their toes and feet, squeeze their hands into fists, and make their legs and arms as hard as stone; After a few seconds, have them release all their muscles and relax for a few minutes; Encourage them to think about how their body is feeling throughout the activity.
- Heartbeat Exercise – Paying attention to one’s heartbeat has a role in many mindfulness exercises and activities. To begin, tell your child to jump up and down in place or do jumping jacks for one minute. When they have finished, have them sit down and put a hand over their heart. Instruct them to close their eyes and pay attention only to their heartbeat and, perhaps, their breath as well. This exercise teaches children to notice their heartbeat, and use it as a tool to help them focus. These skills will come in handy as they start engaging in more advanced mindfulness activities.
- Five-finger starfish meditation – This breathing technique has kids holding up one hand in a starfish position (fingers spread wide) while they gently trace up and down each finger with the other hand, focusing on regular breathing at the same time.
- Counting Breaths – This technique is what it sounds like: have your child pause and count their breaths. One breath in is “1”, the next breath out is “2,” etc. You can have them count to 10 if they’re very young, or slightly higher depending on their abilities.
- Mindful Breathing – Get your child to close their eyes, or look down at their hands and guide them in taking three slow deep breaths in and out to see if they can feel their hands being moved. Encourage them to think about how their breath feels and answer these questions silently in their mind: What is moving your hands? Is it the air filling your lungs? Can you feel the air moving in through your nose? Can you feel it moving out through your nose? Does the air feel a little colder on the way in and warmer on the way out? Can you hear your breath? What does it sound like?
- Breathing Hands – Spread one hand out like a star. Use the index finger on your other hand to trace the outline of your star hand. Take a deep breath in as you move to the top of your thumb. Breathe out as you move down between your thumb and first finger. Take another breath in as you move to the top of your first finger. Breathe out as you move down between your first and second finger. Repeat until you have taken five slow, deep breaths.
- Mindful stepping – This activity is best completed outdoors and with bare feet if possible. While walking, ask your child to bring awareness to their breath and their body. What does the ground feel like under your feet? Which part of your foot touches the ground first when you take a step? Does your body feel heavy or light today? Are you slouching when you walk? Or, is your back quite straight? Try not to change the way you walk, but instead just notice how your body naturally moves.
- Gratitude Practice – For this exercise, your child will use a notebook to make a Gratitude Journal to practice gratitude journaling each day. Ask your child to spend five minutes thinking of something they feel grateful for today: Something that someone else did for you that day. A person in your life that you appreciate. An activity or hobby you are grateful to be able to do. A positive quality of someone that can sometimes be hard to get along with. A skill or ability you have. A part of your body you are grateful for and why. An item that you love.
- Sense Countdown – This can be used to help calm a busy mind and bring our awareness to the present moment. Think of: 5 things you can see 4 things you can touch 3 things you can hear 2 things you can smell 1 thing you can taste.
- Tense and Release – The tense and release muscle relaxation is an exercise that relaxes the mind and body by progressively tensing and releasing those large muscle groups. In this activity, ask your child to gently tense and then release each large muscle group without straining too hard. Try to tense each muscle for approximately 5 seconds for the best results. This activity is perfect prior to going to sleep because it helps the body release tension. Have your child try this activity lying down after they get into bed for the night.
- Heartbeat Exercise – The heartbeat exercise is a wonderful grounding activity because it allows your child to focus on the sensations in the body. This exercise is a wonderful activity to do if your child is feeling stressed or anxious. Ask your child to stand up and either jump up and down or do jumping jacks for one minute. At the end of that minute, have them place their hand on their heart and pay attention to how their heartbeat and breathing feel.
- Glitter Jar – The glitter jar is a great activity to use when your child is worried, upset, nervous or angry. Allow your child to decorate a mason jar however they like. Get one bottle of clear glue and some glitter. Fill the bottle up 3/4 of the way with water. Next, add the clear glue and glitter and shake. Seal the lid and you are ready to go. Your child can shake the jar or bottle when they feel anxious or upset and remain still while the glitter settles. The jar is like the child’s mind, and you can even encourage your child to think about how their thoughts are like glitter. As the glitter settles down into the bottom of the jar, the mind becomes calmer as well.
- “Just one breathe” Breathing Activity – Find a relaxing place where you and your child will not be disturbed. Set a timer for one minute and start breathing deeply in and out. Notice how the breath feels as it moves in and out of your body. Notice how the air feels on your skin. Pay attention to any sensations that you notice or any sounds that you hear. Take another slow deep breath and see if you can imagine how the breath moves down into the lungs and then back up again. Thank your body and breath for giving you life and keeping you healthy. Take one more deep breath and hold the breath for a moment – then release it.
- Talk about gratitude – Chances are you’ve taught your child to mindlessly say “please” and “thank you,” but have you ever taught them to express true gratitude? Before every family meal, go around the table and name something you’re grateful for. It could be something you play with, time spent with a friend or family member, or something that happened that day.