Mindfulness for kids: 7 activities for a mindful family life
Long school and kindergarten days, appointment after appointment and all the unforeseen surprises during the day - we all know how demanding family life can be sometimes! Do you also long for moments where you can just slow down and find a moment of pause for yourself and your kids? Then you came to the right place!
In this article, you'll find out why mindfulness for kids is as important as mindfulness for parents. With our 7 mindfulness kids activities, you will be able to introduce your kids to mindfulness with ease and get wonderful benefits for yourself as well. A more mindfulness for your children and yourself - step by step!
What is mindfulness in simple terms?
Mindfulness means being in the here and now - physically and mentally - and not getting pulled out of the moment by our thoughts. We all know it too well. Our thoughts love to get stuck in the past, or distract us with worry about an imaginary future.
What do I still need to organize for tomorrow? Are all the lunch boxes made? Will I manage to make the car payments this month?
All these TO DOs, plans and worries take us out of the present moment. If you are mindful on the other hand, you give your full and undivided attention to the now - without any judgment about it.
Photo by Chelsea Gates
Ways to practice mindfulness
- You take a neutral observer position of your surroundings and yourself, instead of judging things.
- You consciously choose to be in the moment and just notice things, without becoming distracted or letting your thoughts drift away.
- Most importantly: you do NOT give in to your thoughts and do not become identified with them.
- These questions can help: What do Ihear, see, smell, feel and taste? What is present in me right now? What do I perceive around me? Observe. Perceive.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Right now you may be asking yourself: What's the point of all of this? Does more mindfulness for moms and kids really make such a difference?
It absolutely does! And not only that. The benefits of mindfulness are in fact scientifically proven.
Regular mindfulness practice leads to:
Demonstrably more inner peace, serenity and relaxation
Becoming more connected to your body and your needs
Reduction of anxiety and stress, and increased attention
Strengthening of the immune system
A more relaxed way of dealing with stress
positive influence on various diseases (depression, burnout, skin diseases, addiction...)
Sounds pretty good right?!
Why mindfulness for kids is just as important
Modern life can be just as challenging for our kids as for us adults. There is a constant stream of information and new sensory stimuli coming in, combined with a fast-paced and often performance-oriented academic life. Advertising, smartphones and technology are everywhere now. Is there still any space left for a pause?
Yet, our little ones need moments of rest and grounding just as much as we do. If us adults already find it difficult to consciously disconnect from technology and arrive completely in the moment, how can we expect our kids to do so without our help?
Mindfulness has the same benefits for kids as for adults
Photo by Bruno Nascimento
A shared mindfulness practice with our kids is therefore an absolute gamechanger. All it takes is a pleasant environment and a few minutes of time each day. Mindfulness gives your kids important tools from an early age that they can later use for themselves.
It is important to note that our brain constantly forms new neural connections throughout our lives, repairing and strengthening itself from the inside out. Mindfulness and our perception of thoughts and bodily sensations support our brain in this process particularly well.
Regular mindfulness activities for kids have a positive impact on these areas:
- Dealing with challenges
- Ability to concentrate
- Impulse control
- Dealing with fears
- Inner strength
- Well-being and satisfaction
How to teach mindfulness to kids
When it comes to mindfulness for kids, it is not about rigid meditation techniques and trying to control thoughts. Instead, it’s about allowing your kids to become more connected to their sensory perceptions and their inner landscape.
What do I see, hear, smell, taste, feel?
If you want to explain to your child what mindfulness is, keep it as short and to the point as possible. Mindfulness is about:
- slowing down
- perceiving consciously
Above all, it is about making mindfulness tangible and easy to understand for them. This you can do best through little rituals, games and having lots of fun together!
What are 5 mindfulness exercises?
With these 7 playful mindfulness activities for kids (and adults!), you will bring more ease, joy and calm to your family life. Here is how!Start the day consciously - the be-all and end-all
Let's be honest - how did you start your day today? How did you feel during the first minutes of the day? Did you immediately feel like you had tons to do or did you take time for a relaxed cup of tea? Starting the day mindful and relaxed is half the battle for a more conscious daily routine. If on the other hand you feel stressed and hectic first thing in the morning, this will set the tone for the day. So what can you do? Give yourself time in the morning, breathe deeply, get out of bed a few minutes earlier and do something good for yourself!
Meditation can help you with a relaxed start into the day
Photo by Dmitriy Frantsev
A short meditation or a quiet cup of tea all to yourself is all you really need. Now you can also wake up your children with much more peace and in a loving way. After that, you can add another wonderful ritual to your family morning: What are you grateful for today? Each family member shares one thing for which she or he is especially grateful today. A good mood in the family home will be guaranteed!
Become an expert “singletasker“!
Consciously get into the habit of doing one thing at a time and avoiding multitasking whenever possible. Whether you´re eating, playing, reading, painting - allow yourself to present and to stay with one activity at a time. You are the main role model for your children and will teach them mindfulness through your own actions. Focusing on one action at a time will not only help you, but also have a positive effect on your kids.
These sentences and reminders can help you in daily life:
"Just a moment! I don't want to do everything at once. I'll take my time calmly doing one thing at a time."
"My dear, I'll be super happy to do puzzles with you as soon as I'm done with the dishes here."
"Now I'm all yours and excited to play with you!"
Start the ritual of a mindfulness walk
Mindfulness for kids can be incorporated into pretty much any situation. It actually doesn't take much to slow down. The way back from daycare, school or shopping for example is the perfect moment for a mindfulness walk.
Ask the following question to your child: What three things that you can see, hear, smell or feel do you like most about this walk? This will ground them with their senses and allow them become more calm and relaxed.
Talking about feelings
Mindfulness and feelings are closely connected. If you talk to your kids about their feelings, they will get to know themselves better and over time, learn how to deal with emotional situations better.
This is how you can help your child learn to deal with his or her feelings in a healthy way:
- In the moment of challenging situations or when looking back, ask: How do you feel right now? How did you feel in the moment?
- Allow the feelings to be there without judging them
- Ask your child to give feelings a name (sadness, anger, fear, love, disgust...) and let them feel these questions: How does the feeling feel to you? Where in your body do you feel it? What happens to you when you feel this feeling?
This way, your child will learn that feelings are part of life - for all of us. Some may be more pleasant than others, but they are all welcome and allowed to be there. If we give them space and really feel them, they will pass. A wonderful mindfulness exercise for slightly older children that can be a great bonding experience as well.
Time in nature does wonders
Spending time together in nature is the best way to slow down and allows for many different types of mindfulness exercises. With these ideas, you will have the best time exploring nature and becoming more mindful together.
Exploring your surroundings is a great way to live mindfulness with kids.
Photo by @banyadorderatlles
How does the wind/sunshine feel on your skin?
What does the rain smell like?
What animals can you spot?
What do the clouds look like? Can you see anything in them? In which direction are they moving?
Collect natural treasures (stones, chestnuts, flowers, leaves...) and look at them very carefully. What shape and color are they? How do they smell? How do they feel with your eyes closed?
It is best to take a nice bag with you for your finds. Then you can look at them closely even in colder weather back home with a warm hot chocolate.
The forest is an adventure playground for feeling games. One of you looks for something from nature, the other feels it eyes-closed with their hands and describes what she/he perceives.
How does the material behave?
How heavy is it?
What does it sound like when I touch it?
Photo by Kristin Snippe
What is mindfulness breathing?
Breathing exercises help to calm down the nervous system and are the perfect trick if you want to help your little one fall asleep more easily. Performed together, they are especially bonding. Here is a great breathing exercise that you can do in the evening while lying in bed:
- Put your hands next to your body or on your belly.
- With the inhalation, you take in everything you need (e.g. tiredness).
- With the exhalation, you let go of everything you no longer need (e.g. stressful moments from the day).
- Repeat inhaling and exhaling consciously a few times together.
The mindfulness exercise for children can be combined with a previous conversation about the day. The question: What do you want to let go of today before you sleep? leads you directly into the breathing ritual.
For slightly older children, “dream journeys” are also a perfect sleep and mindfulness tool. Listening to them before bed allows you to wind down together and enjoy quality time.
Meditation for childen
Fun meditation exercises: feeling the body
Mini-meditations are the perfect mental and physical break in our daily life. Start with a few conscious breaths with your eyes closed. While doing so, you can consciously feel your belly, your legs, your feet, your arms and your head. Even short moments like these will immediately bring you back to the here and now. It's a great mindfulness exercise for young and old!
Want to learn more ways to start meditating with your kids? Read our article on meditation for children
Feel the presence of your body.
Photo by @banyadorderatlles
Mindfulness for children: What to consider
Last but not least, integrating mindfulness for kids into everyday life is a process and not a one-size fits all. These tips will help you and your little ones along the way:
- Mindfulness is not about being perfect or reaching any goals!
- Let your child go in her or his own tempo, without any pressure.
- All mindfulness for kids activities are voluntary and can be skipped at will.
- Regularity is nice, but should not be forced. Instead, it is about taking little steps.
- Have fun and enjoy!
And as with everything, be a role model - the rest will come naturally. Show how well you take care of yourself through yoga, meditation and mindfulness, and it will inspire them. Use their curiosity, invite them to join in and start small. If your kids are not interested in mindfulness right away, don’ worry! Try some of these children yoga poses that are sure to delight as a fun, family activity. They will learn all the important things from you, because you are taking care of yourself in a mindful way!
Enough talk, now it's your turn! Why don't you start your mindfulness challenge for the next few months right now? How about a month of starting your day mindfully? Let us know in the comments: What are your favorite rituals for more mindfulness for children and yourself?
We wish you many mindful moments with your children and above all, have fun trying these activities out!
Photo by Lesly Juarez