Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Start Today! Fun Kid Activities for Mindfulness-Focus
Mindfulness is the buzzword that promises advantages to everyone, from business managers to classroom teachers to parents around the world. You’ve done your homework on child development (and maybe part of your child’s homework, too – that’s OK, we’ve all done it!) and now you want to bring mindfulness practice into your child’s life today.
So today, are your kids tearing around and bouncing off the walls? Glued to an electronic device? On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “impossible” and 5 being “no sweat,” does starting a mindfulness practice look closer to 1 or 2? Even zero?
Worry not, loving parent! If you are committed to raising a strong, focused, smart and happy child, know this. What your beloved child is doing right now is, in fact, purpose-driven.
Children of every stripe are driven toward joy, dreams and possibilities. Do you remember “flying” down a flight of stairs, “hiding” behind the living room drapes? Your fleet of airplanes and Barbie doll dramas?
Mindfulness is as normal and natural as life itself.
The closer we are to our birth, the more naturally mindful we are: noticing without judging, being aware without reacting negatively.
Your job in teaching mindfulness practices is to guide your child’s natural attention to the joy and happiness of learning, and to help your child evolve into the peace-filled, curious, focused and inventive adult that resides within. The beauty of choosing mindfulness for your child is that the practices can revive your own memories of awareness and noticing without judgment, creating a powerful foundation for your life, your child and generations to come.
Should you talk to your child about mindfulness? Yes! But start with games and practices that appeal to your child’s own sense of joy, creating a family habit that you can later build into a concept of mindfulness appropriate for your child’s age and disposition. (We’ll give you tips on talking to your kids about mindfulness in a future post). For now, just be with your child and enjoy of their capacity for awareness! Here are some practices to try.
Preschool to elementary school age mindfulness game: Blowing soap bubbies
On weekends or after school, just say “Let’s blow bubbles!”
Dip a wand into a bottle of soap bubble water (available commercially or a 50/50 mixture of dish soap and water). Holding the bubble wand about 4 inches from your child’s mouth. ask your child to breathe in through the nose to the count 1…2…3. Then breathe out through the mouth to the bubble wand – 1..2..3. Regulating our out-breath is far harder than regulating in-breath. At first, your child and you will see many small bubbles. Chase just one with your child. Ask, “What colors did you see in that bubble?” You already know all the colors in the spectrum are in each tiny bubble.
Go back to the wand. Breathe in with your child 1…2…3. Let your child breathe out to the wand – 1…2…3. What colors did your child see now?
Go back again. As your child has masters out-breath, fewer and bigger bubbles will appear, and the colors will be more easily visible.
Twenty to thirty minutes of mindful bubble play with your child teaches:
- Regulation of in and out breath, the basis of life balance.
- Focused attention, by chasing just one bubble, while knowing other bubbles exist.
- Calm awareness through simply noticing that more colors are visible as the out-breath balances with in-breath.
For the active, martial arts kid, athletic or older child
The art of Tai Chi offers a treasure box of mindful activities perfect for your active, athletic child’s focus on success in martial arts and other sports: balance, strength, flexibility, and endurance.
An important core practice will teach your active or older child to use Tai Chi training to become aware of his or her own energy, a great advantage in succeeding in their chosen challenges.
Ask your child to sit on the floor in a cross-legged or kneeling position, with a straight back, palms resting upwards on their knees facing upwards. You will sit behind your child, practicing full nonjudgmental awareness to support this activity.
Start with breath awareness. Count the in-breath 1…2…3, and out breath 1…2…3. Notice particularly the out-breath. Continue counting for your child until the in-breath and out-breath are equal in speed and regularity. Don’t comment on or correct your child’s breathing. Just continue the counting, and the regularity will come.
Next, ask your child to bring their awareness to the palms of their hands. The palms have a strong capacity for energy and healing, As your child focuses on the palms (a key center of healing energy or chi), he or she will feel a tingling sensation in the in the hands. Tell your child to pay complete attention to the tingling sensation.
Start the breath counting again 1..2…3 in, and 1..2…3 out. Direct your child’s awareness to the increasingly strong sensations in the hands as he or she continues to breathe.
Gently support your child’s straight posture if needed, without breaking the count. Continue for 5 minutes for the first session. Children always experience and understand the sense of energy immediately. Gradually increase the timing for the breath work and the entire practice each time you support your child in this activity.
This simple practice teaches your active or older child
- The power and value of stillness
- How balancing breath increases focus, power, and stamina
- Awareness of their own internal source of energy
These easy mindfulness practices are a lifelong gift to your children. Start today, and see how their lives – and yours- begin to transform!