What Is this Mindfulness Stuff All About?
From our Friends at Black Bear Academy
As parents and providers, not only should we teach our kids their ABCs and 123s, but it is essential to teach our kids how to accept and respond to their emotions. Building their emotional intelligence is just as important as building their academic intelligence in order to support their ability to adapt to changes within their world. One way to build upon their emotional awareness and regulation is to practice mindfulness, tuning into the present moment. Our senses are powerful tools to help us get in touch with out body and mind. You can tune in to your body and mind by using our senses. See below for some fun and easy suggestions:
Mindfulness is Practicing Awareness
- Attending to the present moment
- Awareness of our body in space
- Slowing down
- Paying attention to self and surroundings
Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness
- Increased body awareness
- Increased focus and attention
- Helps us pause and respond vs. immediately reacting
- Increased emotional regulation
- More compassion for self and others
- Decreased anxiety
Activities to Practice Mindfulness:
- Name Your Senses
- Name one thing you smell, taste, feel, hear, and see in this moment.
- Where are your body parts?
- Check in with your body parts, working from your head to toes. Did you bring your hair to class today? Did you bring your head?, Your ears?, Your eyes?, … Did you bring your toes?
- Hold 5 positions for 10 seconds each, remembering to breathe throughout
- Use Yoga Pretzel Cards found on Amazon
- Focus on your breath by laying on your back and feeling your belly rise and fall. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mZbzDOpylA
- Trace your hand with your finger. While you trace up and down each finger, breathe in and out.
- Make a breathing buddy. Practice Star Breathing with a folder (can find on youtube), a toilet roll decorated with ribbons and feathers, or Hoberman expandable sphere (found on amazon)
- Focus on One Sense
- Auditory- Ring a bell or chime. Who can listen the longest?
- Taste- Close your eyes. Have an adult feed your child a safe intense flavored food (i.e. orange). Can you guess what flavor it is?
- Sight- Choose an object of attention. Hold an object and notice its details, how many colors, how many textures, is it smooth, etc.
- Touch- Close your eyes. Have your partner touch a body part (arm, leg, forehead, etc.) with either a cotton ball or feather. Can you guess whether it was a cotton ball or feather?
- Smell- Place various items with strong smells in bottles. Have your child guess what the smell is!
- Mindfulness Jar
- Fill a clear bottle with glitter, stars, glue, water, and food coloring. When upset, have your child shake the bottle and watch the glitter fall.
- Calming Corner
- Create a welcoming space for your child to calm his/her body, equipped with low lights, comfy chairs and blankets, mindfulness jar, tents, and books. Encourage your child to utilize the space to engage in mindfulness activities and calm their body.
Kids learn through observation and play! When you are feeling a big emotion, narrate your experience and show them that it is okay to feel things, use our words to describe the feeling, and utilize tools to help us regulate our body (“Wow, I’m feeling frustrated by this traffic! I need to take some deep breaths to calm my body!”). Kids often benefit from practicing self-regulation tools and/or mindfulness while regulated through playful activities before executing this strategy in “real time” during an emotional response. When your child is experiencing an emotion, it is important to acknowledge their emotion, show empathy and understanding, and then encourage them to access previously taught tools (i.e. belly breathing) to calm down. Check out the following resources to find out how to incorporate these concepts into your daily routine:
- Sesame Street In Communities: https://sesamestreetincommunities.org
- Generation Mindful: https://genmindful.com
- Breathe, Think, Do- Sesame Street Application
- Mindful Movements: Ten Exercises for Well-Being, by Thich Nhat Hanh
- Just Breathe- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVA2N6tX2cg
- Head Space Application
- Calm Application
- Safe and Calm for Children- Children Meditation Song- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVM9JKbllqU