With today’s technological hyper-advancements, our children are faced with overwhelming virtual hitches. Selfies are obligatory in all the mundane events of their day. They get sad when they don’t find their friends on Roblox. Their existence also depends on how much likes and hearts they get on social media. Mindfulness for kids seems far-fetched but hear me out.
A once-in-a-while screen break, better yet, being gadget-free altogether, is recommended by specialists for our children to get in touch with reality. I wrote a separate post on how to control their screen time. What do they do without their much-loved techy contraptions? There’s a school requirement they need to finish. Some play with toys, do games and sports, or engage in arts. Mindfulness activities are also a good alternative.
What is mindfulness?
According to mindful.org, mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
For adults, we achieve mindfulness by the act of meditation. We consciously pause to go to a calm state, listen to our bodies and get in touch with our inner being. Sometimes, we merge our meditation time with other activities like walking and yoga. We can also do this with our kids, from the very young ones to the older ones, and help them develop the state of mindfulness, all by playing with simple toys and using other objects we can easily find in our homes.
Mindfulness for kids through play? How?
- Play when your very young children ready. This means that they are not sleepy nor hungry.
- Show them the toys then let them lead. Give them time to reach for it and hold it.
- Establish eye contact. Make sure they is looking at you, at the toy and at what you are doing with the toy.
- Give them time to respond. Sometimes, you have to offer gentle hand-over-hand help. Sometimes, you need to demonstrate how to use the toy. Do so and wait for them to do it as you did, or do it their way.
- Keep the play activity pleasant and have fun.
Mindfulness Games for Children
For very young and young children, I have written short sing-song phrases, much like nursery rhymes, that are easy to remember and learn how to say. Since I am an OT, I can’t help but include hand development so fine motor skills also segue in the tasks. I have also incorporated a few textures for sensory tactile exploration. Concepts building were also interspersed within the phrases and tasks, while positivity is chiefly targeted through mindfulness techniques like affirmation, gratefulness, and visualization.
Mindfulness Games for very young children:
Things needed: Small ball and cup
Hold the rod tight, then loose.
Raise it up, then down.
Hold the ball tight, then loose.
Shoot the ball in, then out.
Put the cup to the right, then left.
Lay it mouth up, then upside down.
Hold them and shake them fast, then slow.
Ding Dong, Thank You
Things needed: Rattle and cup
Toss the rattle twice. Ding. Dong.
Shake the rattle twice. Thank. You.
Shoot the rattle twice. Ding. Dong.
Tap the cup with the rattle twice. Thank. You.
Toss. Shake. Shoot. Tap.
Ding dong! Thank you!
Walk, walk and bless
Things needed: None
While teaching your baby to walk, for each step he takes, say:
Happy. Cheer. Blessings!
Right. Left. Blessings!
Good. Joy. Blessings!
Mindfulness Games for young children:
Egg and Cup
Things needed: Egg toy and cup
Egg and cup Egg. And. Cup.
Egg in a cup; out of the cup.
In. And. Out.
Egg in a cup, it might be hot!
Smell and blow
Smell and blow!
Things needed: Kitchen set + grains
Imagine we are in the kitchen, cooking food.
Scoop and pour in the cups
And scoop and pour in the pots
Then, scoop and pour until all is full
Tongs open and close. Clip here and there.
Rolling pin forward and backward.
Towards you and towards me.
Now, let us pretend to eat! Yummy!
You and I
Things needed: Cup, spoon and water
You and I
You say more. I scoop more. (spoon)
You say few. I scoop few.
You say two. I pour two. (cup)
You say four. I pour four.
Now, let’s switch, you and I.
I say slow. You stir slow. (spoon)
I say fast. You stir fast.
I say up. You raise it up. (cup)
I say down. You put it down.
You and I. Let’s have fun!
Mindfulness Games for older kids:
I Am Me
Things needed: Stacking cups and Bowling set
While stacking and putting pieces in position, say positive words about yourself (happy, beautiful, etc.).
When you reach the top (Stacking cups), say I am (your name).
When you roll the ball towards the pins (Bowling Set), say I am (your name).
They Help Me
Things needed: Cups, Bowl, Playdough ingredients
Prepare a simple meal or a dough and put ingredient in the cups and scoopers.
Imagine that the cups and scoopers are your friends and family.
As you put ingredients in a bowl or in the tray, say their names and what they give you (“Mom puts flour..”)
Don’t forget to express your gratitude, “Thank you, Mom.”
When all is done, close your eyes and be thankful for everybody around you.
Things needed: 2 tissue roll cores
Pretend the tissue roll cores are a set of binoculars. Let your child hold it and point it at anywhere he or she pleases. The child can also close his eyes, if he likes.
What do you see? (Child imagines his future self, i.e. “Doctor [name]”)
Where do you live? (Child describes his dream house and all the things he wants in it)
Who’s with you? (Child describes his dream family)
How do you feel? (Child describes how he feels, visualizing his dreams)
Among the benefits, both adults and children alike, can reap from mindfulness are decreased anxiety, emotional regulation, improved relationships, increased attention and overall positivity. These are achieved by constantly practicing Mindfulness techniques and meditation. Engaging the children early on in mindfulness tasks will certainly prepare them to cope with the stresses that life will throw at them in the future.