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Mindfulness for Kids: 6 Easy Ways to Boost Their Mental Health

Mindfulness for Kids: 6 Easy Ways to Boost Their Mental Health Mindfulness for Kids: 6 Easy Ways to Boost Their Mental Health

Children's Mental Health Awareness Week, running from May 5th to 11th, focuses on raising awareness about children's mental health. It's a great time to explore healthy habits for kids, and it all starts at home!

While parents often focus on their kids' physical health, mental and emotional well-being are just as important. Teaching kids mindfulness can help reduce stress, improve focus, and boost self-control. And weaving mindfulness into daily life can be fun and easy, even if it seems a little daunting at first.

Take a deep breath and let's explore six ways to add mindfulness to your family's day-to-day life.

Help Them Understand Big Feelings

Kids need guidance when learning to manage their emotions. Without this guidance, they might have meltdowns or tantrums. We've all been there... one minute they're sweet, and the next they're a tornado of emotions!

Start by teaching your kids to recognize basic feelings like happiness, sadness, anger, and fear. Playfully act out these emotions and let them practice in a mirror. Reading books about feelings can also help explain them in simple terms.

It's important to be mindful of how you handle your own emotions around kids, as they often mimic what they see. Be present, listen, identify triggers, and create a safe space for your kids to express themselves.

Create a Cozy Corner for Calming Breaks

Children can experience sensory overload, which can negatively impact their behavior. To help with this, consider creating a 'Cozy Corner'—a dedicated, low-stimulation area in your home where children can go to unwind and reset.

The goal is to create an inviting, comfortable space where kids can relax when they're feeling overwhelmed. Furnish the area with soft seating like cushions, play couches, or blankets. You could also set up a play fort or tent for kids who love to hide. Include calming activities like books, coloring stations, or a yoga mat. This special nook can become their safe space to self-soothe and practice mindfulness.

 

Practice Mindful Breathing, Together

Mindful breathing is a fantastic tool for reducing stress, relaxing the body, and improving focus. It slows the heart rate and increases oxygen levels, creating a calming effect that benefits both children and adults.

Belly Breathing: Teach your child to place their hands on their belly or lie down with a stuffed animal on their stomach. Instruct them to take deep breaths through the nose and watch their belly rise and fall. This type of breathing encourages relaxation and body awareness.

Animal Breathing: For a fun twist, try "Lion's Breath" or "Alligator's Breath." With Lion’s Breath, your child takes a deep breath in, then opens their mouth wide and lets out a loud "roar" on the exhale. With Alligator’s Breath, they stretch their arms out wide as they inhale, then "chomp" them shut on the exhale. These playful breathing exercises combine mindfulness with imagination, making them engaging for kids.

Mindful breathing exercises like these are simple and effective ways to help children manage stress and connect with their bodies. By practicing together, you can turn this into a bonding activity while instilling healthy habits. 

Encourage Mindful Eating

Mindful eating helps kids build a positive relationship with food. Try to minimize distractions during meals so they can focus on their hunger cues.

Get them involved in the kitchen with simple tasks like stirring or washing veggies. Talk about what you see, feel, smell, and taste. This can help picky eaters try new foods and build their curiosity.

Don't be discouraged if some days your kids eat like a hippo and other days, like a mouse. The "mac and cheese phase" is normal! Mealtime should be fun and positive — use it as a chance to connect.

 

Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is great for mental health. We love when kids say "thank you," which is an important first step.

Encourage them to give thanks when something nice is done for them. Bedtime or dinnertime is a good opportunity to share what you're thankful for.

Gratitude Journals: Encourage your child to write or draw about what they are thankful for each day in a small notebook. This practice helps them focus on the positives and fosters a grateful mindset. They can also use stickers or doodles to make the journal more personal and fun.

Gratitude Jars: Have your child write down things they are grateful for on small pieces of paper and put them into a jar. This visual reminder of what they appreciate helps children reflect on the good things in their lives. Periodically, you can open the jar together and read the notes to relive those happy moments.

Both the journal and the jar provide a wonderful outlet for kids to express their feelings and reflect on what they appreciate.

Get Moving with Nature Walks & Yoga

Outdoor activities are key for both physical and mental health. We love nature walks because they combine exercise with mindfulness, allowing children to connect with their surroundings.

Nature Walks: Embark on an adventure with your child, exploring a nearby park, forest, or beach. You can turn these walks into a fun learning experience with a nature scavenger hunt, where kids search for items like specific leaves, rocks, or animal tracks. Discuss what you see, touch, hear, smell, and sometimes even taste (like wild berries or herbs). These walks keep kids present, curious, and engaged with their environment, promoting a sense of wonder and calm.

Five Senses Game: For a more structured mindfulness activity during a nature walk, try the "Five Senses" game. Have your child name five things they see, four things they can touch, three things they can hear, two things they can smell, and one thing they can taste. This game teaches kids to appreciate their surroundings and can lead to interesting conversations about the natural world.

Yoga for Kids: Introducing yoga to kids is another great way to get them moving mindfully. Check out our Yoga With Kids article for tips and poses to get started. You can even make it thematic, like "Zoo Yoga," where children pretend to be different animals, such as stretching into a cat pose or arching into a cow pose. This not only makes the exercise fun but also aids in their learning and development.

 

Click Here to download our Mindfulness Activity Sheet

Remember, your role as a parent is key to fostering your child's mental health. Kids have good and bad days, just like adults. The important thing is to help them understand and manage their feelings.

Life can get busy, but take a moment to be present and incorporate mindfulness into your children's lives for a positive mindset.

We hope these tips help create a positive impact in your home during Children's Mental Health Awareness Week and beyond!

 

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