7 Mindfulness Activities for Children
Teachers across the country are introducing mindfulness activities for children to help them focus and curb the rising rates of anxiety.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 7.1% of U.S. children (ages 3-17) or approximately 4.4 million have diagnosed anxiety. And that's only the children who've seen a doctor for their symptoms.
It’s never too early to teach children about mindfulness, a lifelong skill that helps relieve stress, improve concentration, and will ultimately result in a happier life.
Teachers don't need a lot of money or special facilities to introduce their students to mindfulness. The truth is it can be done easily and effectively by using research-based exercises.
Keep reading below to learn about seven activities you can start using in your classroom or at home.
1. Breathing Exercises to Develop Mindfulness for Kids
If you’ve ever had any experience with yoga, you understand the impact that breathing exercises can have on your mental and physical health. These same principles can be applied to children.
Elementary school teachers often conduct an activity called “breathing buddies” to help their students focus before a complex activity.
Children lie on their backs with a stuffed animal on their belly and the teacher will direct them to inhale and exhale deeply for three seconds each way. The breathing is repeated between five to 10 times or when the teacher feels the students had enough.
Deep breathing exercises help people to decrease stress and elicit the “relaxation response,” a technique first developed at Harvard Medical School in the 1970s.
There are numerous health benefits to deep breathing. If left untreated, stress can cause health issues in your body.
2. Start Coloring to Calm a Busy Mind
Coloring books have been popular with children for decades but did you know that more adults are spending hours coloring between the lines?
That’s because when coloring you’re existing “in the moment.” Coloring — or even painting or drawing — develops mindfulness and lowers your heart rate.
For children who’re predominately kinesthetic learners, the sensation of holding the crayon, feeling the paper’s texture, and the act of finishing a project can help calm their mind. This activity has the same effect as mindful meditation for kids.
If you’re a teacher searching for coloring templates to use with your class, simply search online. There are many free resources available.
3. Help Children Relax Muscle-By-Muscle
Have you ever heard of the body scan exercise? This activity is similar to breathing and meditation for children.
Children lie on their backs for this exercise as well. They start by taking deep breaths. Once still, they will begin concentrating on their feet, and work their way up, willing each set of muscles to relax.
It's perfectly normal for their minds to wander, you'll just need to guide their attention back to the body scan.
This exercise is also useful for parents putting children to bed.
4. Mindfulness Activities for Children: Blowing Bubbles
Believe it or not, blowing bubbles has a lot of potential to calm young children. It may be less effective the older a child gets, but it's still worth considering.
Blowing bubbles forces children to be mindful because they’re concentrating deeply on the process of dipping the stick into the solution and gently blowing the bubbles. It’s harder than it looks.
Focusing on floating bubbles can also be therapeutic, especially if the child imagines they’re bad thoughts flying away.
The best part of this activity is that it’s easy and inexpensive to do in the classroom.
5. Focus on Five Senses to Stay Centered
Our five senses are how we experience the world. They can make us feel anxious or calm us down, depending on what we take in.
This technique is similar to the body scan. It requires children to concentrate for a longer than normal period. In this case, their attention is fixed on the senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste.
A bird song can decrease anxiety, for instance, just as smelling essential oils like lavender can calm the mind. The effects are the same here.
As a teacher, you can take your students outside to learn about mindfulness and help them experience nature differently.
6. Soothing Music Helps Mental Awareness
Music has a significant effect on emotions. Depending on what tempo you’re listening to — fast, upbeat, or tempo — your mind and body can feel alert, happy, or relaxed.
According to recent research, the most relaxing types of songs are Native American, Celtic, or indigenous with drums and flutes. Light jazz or classical is effective in focusing your mind, as well as recordings of natural sounds like rain or thunder.
Our brains produce relaxing alpha brainwaves when music is around 60 beats per minute. Researchers recommend experimenting with different types until you find what you like.
7. Teach Mindfulness Through Character Education
Schools across the country have started adding character education to their curriculum. This involves teaching children important qualities like ethics, empathy, critical thinking, and civic involvement.
By focusing on real global issues, a character education program like the one at the Canterbury School of Florida in St. Petersburg teaches students to be reflective and aware of their role in the world.
The school’s Honor Code is taught to students at every level to establish honesty, respect, and consideration for others. They also complete service-learning activities to help their local communities and develop new relationships.
Want to Know More About Mindfulness?
Hopefully, after reading this post you’ve learned more about mindfulness activities for children. The good news is these techniques are helpful for adults too.
Want to learn more about mindfulness? You can buy a book or reserve space in a seminar to learn about mindfulness, but there are many free resources available online.
Keep reading more of our website for information about child development, mental health, meditation, personal goal setting, and more.
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