By: Michaella Brickner, LPC-IT, Family Therapist in Training, Penfield Children’s Center, Behavior Clinic
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is focusing on the present moment and engaging in calming activities. Mindfulness helps a person think about the here and now in a positive way. Anyone can use mindfulness, even young children.
Benefits of Mindfulness:
Through using mindfulness, a person’s anxiety, worries, and feelings of stress can decrease and their happiness can increase. Mindfulness can help a child calm their body when they are hyperactive, dysregulated, worried, scared, and any other “big” feeling they may be experiencing. In addition, mindfulness can help promote focus and regulation skills. Lastly, mindfulness is a fun activity the family can engage in together.
Mindfulness Activities for the Family:
Children can learn to use mindfulness by their caregivers modeling skills and engaging in activities with them. When using mindfulness with children, read their mood to gauge if now is a good time to practice mindfulness. Try and make the activities fun for everyone! It is okay if your activities do not go as planned or perfectly; the goal is to enjoy time together and engage in a calming activity focusing on the present moment.
Here are a few examples of mindfulness activities to engage in with your children:
- Take a walk outside and point out things you see, things you smell, and things you can hear
- Complete an arts and crafts activity together
- While coloring, practice coloring softly, hardly, slowly, and quickly
- Make bracelets out of beads and string together and exchange them (make sure to supervise young children when using small items such as beads)
- Be creative!
- Yoga to use movement and relaxation
- Check out the Cosmic Kids Yoga YouTube channel
- Write something good that happened today or one positive thing for the day
- Practice kind thoughts
- Say five things or people you are grateful for or want to send positive wishes to
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Practice squeezing different muscles in your body tightly and then releasing
- Squeeze your hand and let go, having a squishy item to squeeze (ball, playdough) can be helpful
- Squeeze your toes together and let go
- Deep breathing (in through the nose and out through the mouth slowly)
- Blow bubbles
- Put a stuffed animal on your stomach and move it up and down by taking slow deep breaths
- Listen to music and have a dance party
- Read a book together and practice naming feelings of each character
- Put on calming smelling lotion
- Create a story together
- Make a card for family, friends, and workers
Find what works for you and your children. There are many ideas on the internet and apps available to try for phones or tablets. Be creative while trying mindfulness and trying different activities to practice being in the moment and in a calm space with your children.
What are your child’s favorite activities that promote mindfulness?