Fun mindfulness activities and exercises for children
Let’s start with these simple ways to attune children with their bodies. At a young age, humans naturally curious about the strength and flexibility of their bodies.
It’s a great age to introduce body-mind awareness as a valuable way to take care of themselves.
One easy way for children to dip their toes into mindfulness is through body poses. To get your kids excited, tell them that doing fun poses can help them feel strong, brave, and happy.
Have the kids go somewhere quiet and familiar, a place they feel safe.
Next, tell them to try one of the following poses:
The Superman: this pose is practiced by standing 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: this pose is struck by standing tall with legs wider than hip-width apart and hands or fists placed on the hips (Karen Young, 2017).
Ask the kids how they feel after a few rounds of trying either of these poses. You may be surprised.
While on the subject of superheroes, this can be a related “next step” to teach kids how to stay present.
Instruct your kids 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 (Karen Young, 2017).
This is a classic mindfulness exercise and encourages observation and curiosity - great skills for any human to practice.
The Mindful Jar
This activity can teach children how strong emotions can take hold, and how to find peace when these strong emotions feel overwhelming.
First, get a clear jar (like a Mason jar) and fill it almost all the way with water. Next, add a big spoonful of glitter glue or glue and dry glitter to the jar. Put the lid back on the jar and shake it to make the glitter swirl.
If you don’t have the materials to hand for a mindful jar then this is a video you can use anywhere.
This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.
Finally, use the following script:
“Imagine that the glitter is like your thoughts when you’re stressed, mad or upset. See how they whirl around and make it really hard to see clearly? That’s why it’s so easy to make silly decisions when you’re upset – because you’re not thinking clearly. Don’t worry this is normal and it happens in all of us (yep, grownups too).
Put the jar down in front of them
Now watch what happens when you’re still for a couple of moments. Keep watching. See how the glitter starts to settle and the water clears? Your mind works the same way. When you’re calm for a little while, your thoughts start to settle, and you start to see things much clearer. Deep breaths during this calming process can help us settle when we feel a lot of emotions” (Karen Young, 2017).
This exercise not only helps children learn about how their emotions can cloud their thoughts, but it also facilitates the practice of mindfulness while focusing on the swirling glitter in the jar.
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 / children 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 (Karen Young, 2017).
A similar exercise for adults is the mindfulness walk. This exercise provokes the same response in children that a mindful walk elicits in adults: a state of awareness and grounding in the present.
I would then take the participant through the following mindfulness exercise.
The 3-minute breathing space
Use the three-minute breathing space in moments of stress, when you are troubled in thoughts or feelings. You can use it to step out of automatic pilot; to reconnect with the present moment and your own inner wisdom.
© University of East Anglia