Mindfulness Exercises for Kids

I was recently asked the question, “Do you have any mindfulness exercises for kids”? Well, personally, I am not a fan of forcing kids to participate in sitting meditation; breathing exercises, mind training, visualisation, etc.  In my experience kids are already in a great place to access mindfulness without attending group meditation, retreats or trying to meditate alone. My advice is to invent  ”fun” games that promote mindfulness and encourage kids to see the beauty of life through their lens, rather than trying to adapt texts/teachings that we have learned.

Use games that don’t have any meditation buzz words attached to them, you know, like the ones we always use; “being present”, “reaching a higher state of awareness” etc. This won’t mean anything to kids, moreover it sounds too much like a lesson, which doesn’t equate to fun time with mum or dad or both. Instead try these mindfulness exercises for kids I came up with, and then innovate on the ideas and develop your own.

Stroking The Dog (or Cat)

Provided you have a safe, furry pet that doesn’t mind being touched, this is a winner. Tell your child to stroke the animal, first with his/her eyes open for a minute, and then with eyes shut for a minute. Instruct your child to stroke slowly and gently. Ask what the fur feels like in each situation. With eyes open it is likely the fur just feels like the fur of the animal, with eyes shut, the imagination hones in on the texture, perhaps interpreting it as wool, carpet, a bath mat and all kinds of other things kids imagine.. This game is fun because it promotes affection toward nature, stimulates the imagination, and teaches the child to appreciate the beauty of connecting with animals. This will teach a child to be gentle with animals and mindful of their feelings.

Roaring In The Wind

Next time it is windy in the garden, or if you are on a windy beach by the sea, stand facing the wind with your child. Spread your arms out and ask your child to do the same; you can hold hands or link arms if you like. Open your mouth and let out a primal roar into the wind. Tell your child to do the same. Let the wind smoother your face and wildly blow your hair. This is so fun, and kids love the freedom of being able to roar and challenge the might of the wind. This is a great way to safely and naturally let loose with your child in a primal-like game. It makes for an exhilarating moment where your child really gets to feel the interconnection humans have with nature.

Watching Ants

Ants are amazing, yet most humans don’t know it because we are too busy killing them and sweeping them out of our homes. Find some ants under a rock, near some food or on a tree. If possible give the ants some breadcrumbs. Now take a magnifying glass and let your child observe how amazing these creatures are. Watch them work as a team, carrying the crumbs back and forward, assisting each other with the heavy load. There is absolute efficiency and amazing organisation in the way ants work and navigate difficult obstacles. Your child will revel in amazement, believe me. Appreciating nature in this way, and recognizing that ants, like humans, have a rightful, important place in the world, is a great mindfulness exercise for kids. I often say to people that the ultimate realisation of the nature mind is understanding that humans are no more important than ants.

Here’s a link to a short video interview I did with Marianne Clyde from Mommy-Zen.com about how we can teach mindfulness to kids: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYUwxtK4jEw

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Jacqueline Myers January 15, 2013 at 7:27 pm

I will definitely be trying some of thèse things out with my 4 year old grandson. He is already connecting with nature . We often watch birds in my garden and He loves flowers and helping to plant seeds and bulbs.

Reply

alfredjames January 16, 2013 at 9:28 am

Kids love nature, and introducing these exercises to a child is great fun for an adult too :)

Reply

Rachel Newell January 16, 2013 at 12:58 am

I love the idea of stroking a pet and experiencing the difference between seeing and eyes closed. I’ve taught meditation (body scanning and visualization) to my daughter as a way to relax before bed. She asks every night to do it – and it helps her go to sleep and calm down. It’s often challenging for a child to be still and stop their mind racing – I gently guide her through body relaxation and it seems to work for her. Transitions between daytime and night can be hard – meditation is a useful tool.

Reply

alfredjames January 16, 2013 at 9:27 am

I think body scanning and visualization would also be of great use to us adults who struggle to bring the mind back home at bedtime. So many people suffer insomnia and anxiety that prevents them getting a healthy sleep, yet the medical profession is too quick to prescribe medication. Thanks Rachel.

Reply

Paokeettee January 27, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I made an ‘insect garden’ with my 3 year old. We observed the way all the insects where different from each other and he had fun noticing the differences and taking care of them.

Reply

Sanlia Marais May 11, 2013 at 8:33 am

Thanks for reminding us how precious it is to create the time in our busy lives for such practices! Although it is a tremendous challenge for the super fast ADHD brain to create these pauses, it is playing an essential role in effectively managing our ADHD in daily life. Beautiful ways to reconnect with each other and to remind us of our true nature!

Reply

Alfred James May 11, 2013 at 11:49 am

Thank you Sanlia, have a wonderful day!

Reply

Sanlia Marais May 11, 2013 at 8:33 am

Thanks for reminding us how precious it is to create the time in our busy lives for such practices! Although it is a tremendous challenge for the super fast ADHD brain to create these pauses, it is playing an essential role in effectively managing our ADHD in daily life. Beautiful ways to reconnect with each other and to remind us of our true nature!

Reply

swamishishuvidehananda sarswti tiwarimaharaj karanjalad datt.maharashtra. November 20, 2013 at 2:32 am

yes…right

Reply

swamishishuvidehananda sarswti tiwarimaharaj karanjalad datt.maharashtra. November 20, 2013 at 2:33 am

yes….right..om..h2o..namah

Reply

Linda January 3, 2014 at 7:17 am

Thank you, great tips, I will try them. It is wise, I believe, to use the things around us for free and to show our children the pleasure to enjoy it:)

Reply

Alfred James January 3, 2014 at 11:13 am

You’re right Linda. There are so many wonderful aspects of the natural environment we can enjoy free with our children.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: