Updated: Feb 4, 2020
This is a blog post with 4 series where I will sharing tips and tools how to teach and implement mindfulness for children.
Mindfulness in simple terms is being aware. The exact place you are in, the clothes you are wearing, whom are you with and what is your thought in that single moment are all being part of present moment awareness. Noticing what thoughts you have without being judgemental. Just simply observing them.
Children are like sponges they soak up all the information we give them so why not give them the best. In this day and age the kids are taking in lot more information than we did at our times through social life, media channels, education system etc. They are being stressed and developing lot of health and emotional issues at an younger ages. Mindfulness is so beneficial to them and more than adults at times. As they are having these tools that they can hang to for their lives. I found these tools help them to open up and have conversations and some deep emotions to be shared in a safe space. These tools are well benefitted to children with Autism, ADHD etc. It’s a tool for all.
They are being learnt to acknowledge their emotions and check in the origin of it. Being respectful of their own feelings. Self love, care, kindness, gratitude, body awareness are some of key benefits you would notice instantly.
In this series I will be sharing some tips which we can implement with kids and these tips I have used with my own children and in the schools I teach I mindfulness.
Firstly, it can be made fun rather a boring or has to be done kind task. Don’t make it sound like a homework. And don’t ask them to do on their own. Do it along with them. And most importantly keep it simple.
Mindfulness is being aware. Remind them at any point of the day how are they doing.
Below are 7 easy steps to implement the Mindfulness practice with kids
Yes simple breathing reminders throughout the day. When I first say this in class the kids always giggle and ask what you mean by rememeber to breath as we are always breathing. Remember its being aware that you are breathing. Breath in from belly and breath out from belly. Noticing the belly going up like balloon and down like contracting. This process helps whole body relaxing and mind calming.
Breathe to count of 5
Another one to implement was to Breathe using numbers 1 to 5 or 5 to 1. I inhale 2 exhale 3 inhale 4 exhale 5 inhale 1 exhale etc…
This is again a reminder to be breathing and fully pumping oxygen to your body. Say you have stress or homework or a rage with a friend helps you when you do it and get back to the problems with a solution. This few seconds of gap will create a space to come back recharged.
2. Gratitude leaf
In the gratitude leaf (a printable leaf shape or any shape of children interest) ask them to write what are they grateful for. In this exercise some struggle to write and some write tonnes of things. Give them ideas – home, family, parents, siblings, cats, dogs, toys , school, friends etc. Its amazing how they generally choose the non material things. This helps them acknowledge what they have and look at life on brighter side.
3. Glitter Jar
Bring in a glitter jar or snow globe and show how our mind is with thoughts when shaken and how it settles when it’s not stirred up just like breathing calms our minds and body. And you can ask them to notice just how the glitters are settling in with no other thoughts. It’s like a hypnotising state to these children to be in the space. I also make the glitter jars with kids it’s so much fun and they tend to use it more often as they understand what’s goes in.
I use bells, Tibetan bowls, sound bars to relax in and by this they settle into their bodies. When Bell rings they are, calm and focus inwards and raise arms when they last heard the sound around 30/50 seconds. Breathing in and out gently and calming minds. Going rounds and taking turns with bells helps them to take responsibility as well. If you don’t have those tools use the utensils you have at home.
5. Body Scan Meditation
It’s an amazing tool done at any time. Very effective with kids who have sleep issues. It’s a meditation where we go through thanking each body part from toes to head and relaxing them. Again kids love to lead the group as they like to take responsibility. I have this mediation recorded on soundcloud - https://soundcloud.com/srimanju-katragadda/bodyscan-mediation
6. Mindful Eating
Be very mindful of what you are eating and taste and smell of it. Just being aware of it helps in bringing your awareness to food on the table. Using all your 5 senses when you eat you enjoy it much more. It can be a piece of chocolate or a broccoli. This helps them to appreciate the food they have in front of them and ask some information about the food that comes to the table to make it more interesting to them.
7. Reverse the daily activity
This is very much fun one. So if you brush your teeth with left hand try with right hand. If you eat with right hand try with left hand. What happens is this whole reversal process is it brings you into attention rather in autopilot mode and be aware of your tasks. Do it while eating or wearing your dress etc. It will slow you down and if a child is hyper this is calming one. Remember to do it with them rather telling them to do it.
§ In Part 2 of this series, I’ll explore how naturally kids teach us mindfulness
§ In Part 3 how you would bond with your child with mindfulness
§ In Part 4 I’ll wrap things up by discussing how mindfulness tools are effective and can used in daily lives with out further complicating it.