Tag Archives: mindfulness

Instagram Accounts We Love

Instagram

You might think Instagram serves as simply a playground to waste time scrolling through pretty pictures, but did you know that there are some excellent educational accounts you can follow to get your daily dose of fun, plus learn some great factual knowledge?

Here are some of our favorite picks for wholesome, educational content related to children:

  • RockChalkSpeechTalk. RockChalkSpeechTalk founder, Kari Radovich, is a speech therapist at Lee Ann Britain Infant Development Center (Britain IDC). This instagram account provides literacy based therapy, easy prep material ideas, and science-based circle time. Kari’s ideas are fun and creative for use at home or in the classroom.
  • MeddyTeddy. Meddy Teddy is a mindful teddy bear who does yoga. This account posts uplifting quotes, yoga poses and mindfulness related content. It is super cute and kids love Meddy.
  • TheMovementMama. The MovementMama instagram account is run by Kailee, a pediatric physical therapist at Lee Ann Britain Development Center (they hire really good therapists). Kailee’s account empowers parents through play-based movement. This account focuses on infants and toddlers and provides great educational content to parents.
  • SesameStreet. Its mission is to help kids grow smarter, stronger, kinder – in more than 150 countries around the world! What more could a parent ask for?
  • EmilyPriceWellness. Emily is a yoga teacher and wellness professional. She posts a variety of wonderful content related to self-care and wellness. She emphasizes a healthy lifestyle through movement, food and all things health related.
  • Mindful Child Mindful Child Aerial Yoga also has an instagram account, we focus on movement, breath, and mindfulness for children. Our mission is to provide brain-based interventions that are fun for the whole family.

In summary, Instagram is more than just pretty pictures, hashtags, and videos. It has a variety of educational accounts for parents to follow to help with a home therapy program, brain breaks, or family time. Best of all it is free.

Online Mindfulness Resources for Kids

Online Mindfulness Resources

With the stress and uncertainty in the world today mindfulness resources are needed more than ever.  Numerous studies have demonstrated the positive effects of mediation and mindfulness on physical and psychological health. Mindfulness can help your child develop an inner calm and happiness.  Even though using an app to be mindful seems contrary to yoga and mindfulness, desperate times require desperate measures.  The coronavirus has closed avenues to yoga and mindfulness in person and left us in a world of social distancing, requiring us to step out of our comfort zones and try new ways to practice mindfulness.  Here are a few of my favorite mindfulness apps:

  • Smiling Minds.  This FREE app was developed by psychologists and educators and has mindfulness programs from age seven to adults. 
  • Headspace.  The Headspace app teaches meditation and mindfulness in just a few minutes a day. It offers breathing techniques, visualization, and special programs for kids. 
  • Stop, Breathe, & Think.  This friendly app was made to guide people of all ages through meditations on mindfulness and compassion.  It even has features designed specifically for kids. 
  • Breathe, Think, Do, with Sesame. Sesame Street is a wonderful resource for not only mindfulness, but growth mindset as well.  Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame is a research-based app that helps your child learn Sesame’s strategy for problem-solving to teach his monster friend to take deep breaths!

According to science, yoga has a multitude of health and mood benefits. The benefits of yoga are boosted if you pair it with mindfulness. If you want to add a little movement to your child’s mindfulness practice, there are several places to practice yoga online. For the next few weeks, online yoga may be the only option.  Here are a few of my favorite online yoga resources for families. 

  • Cosmic Kids.  Cosmic Kids offers free online adventures for kids.  The Cosmic Kids website has lesson plans and guided meditation scripts that are reasonably priced. There is even a free Cosmic Kids lesson plan sample!  
  • Yoga Ed. Yoga Ed teaches the basics of yoga and mindfulness through breathing exercises, yoga poses, games, visualizations, and relaxation activities. They have different yoga themes and age ranges to choose from, making this an easy way for kids to have a yoga and mindfulness practice at home. 

Yoga and mindfulness are powerful ways to calm down kids and sharpen their minds. Even though times may be scary and unprecedented, remember to engage in self-care and model healthy lifestyle choices. Children learn by example…

Monkey Mindfulness

Organic Bananas

What is Monkey Mindfulness?

M

The ancient yogi’s thought we had monkey minds, with our thoughts randomly jumping from branch to branch. But they also recognized that even the wildest little monkeys can be mindful too. Monkey Mindfulness allows children to act like monkeys and then use the calming power of their breath slow down.

What are the benefits?

Monkey bites are a healthy, fun snack for children. Bananas are full of potassium. Peanut butter has protein and healthy fats, making this a great snack for little growing bodies. Introducing a little chaos and then using the breath to calm the mind teaches children to self-regulate.

What to say.

  • We are going to pretend to be monkeys.  Monkeys jump from branch to branch just like our thoughts sometimes do.
  • Stand up and jump across the room just like monkeys.  Let’s hop on one foot, now the other foot.  Wow, you were fantastic monkeys.
  • How can we calm our monkey minds?  Right, with our breath! Sit in Easy Seated Pose and take ten big balloon breaths. 
  • Mindfully eat some monkey bites. Look carefully at your banana. What do you see?  Smell?  What do you taste?
  • Now we are going to add something to dip our bananas in.  I’m going to put a little powered peanut butter on your plate.
  • Using your mindfulness skills, be a food detective and notice how the peanut butter changed your banana. 
  • Take a bite dipped in peanut butter. What do you see, smell, and taste?
  • How did it taste different from the first bite without the peanut butter?

Want your child to learn more ways to be mindful? Sign up for a camp or class!

MindFOLD Origami Butterfly

Mindfulness

Materials

  • Origami Paper
  • Ambient Music

What is MindFOLD Butterfly?

Do you remember making paper creations as a child? Once you learned the initial folds the practice of folding the paper became calming and meditative.  Origami is a peaceful art activity that can promote mindfulness in the form of a focused attention meditation. Focus is required to fold the paper correctly and your child’s sense of touch is activated keeping him engaged as he makes the folds.   There is also the intrinsic reward of making something wonderful out of an ordinary piece of paper. 

What are the Benefits?

Mindfold Butterfly helps children build patience, focus, and concentration.  Mindfold Butterfly also enhances relaxation and eye hand coordination. This activity improves executive functioning skills and mindful awareness. 

What to Say.

Let’s make a mindfold origami butterfly. Origami is an art activity where you fold paper to make amazing mindful creations. Remember to breathe in and out through your nose and really focus on your folds.  Sometimes origami can be tricky if you haven’t done it before so we need to really engage all of our senses and be mindful. Remember to use kind words to yourself and keep trying even though it may be a little challenging.  I’m going to play some music while we fold. 

These are the steps to mindfully fold your paper:

  • Fold your origami paper in half (vertically). Then unfold it.  Make sure there is a crease
  • Next, fold the paper in half (horizontally). Then unfold it. 
  • Fold the top left point down to meet the bottom right point of the paper. It is a diagonal fold (making a triangle).  Then unfold it.
  • Fold the top right point down to meet the bottom left point of the paper. It is a diagonal fold (making a triangle).  Then unfold it.
  • Bring the two middle folds together (right and left middle of paper) and the paper will fold in to itself making a triangle.
  • Turn the triangle upside down.   
  • Take the right corner and fold it in to make triangle.  Take the left corner and do the same thing.  The straight edges from the top should line up to make a diamond.  
  • Turn it over so the triangle point is at the top and fold the bottom of the triangle up. 
  • Tuck the tip that sticks out over the top down to make the head, but only do the top piece of paper. Turn it over.   Unfold the triangle to make your bottom wings. 
Origami Butterfly

Behold your beautiful butterfly! Want to learn more ways to practice mindfulness? Sign-up for a Mindful Child camp! Camps are full of mindfulness and FUN!

Parents, if you need a visual step-by-step guide this YouTube tutorial will show you the origami butterfly folding steps.

Peaceful Pigeon Pose

What is Peaceful Pigeon?

Peaceful Pigeon Pose is a yoga restorative pose that is a deep hip stretch for children.  If your child has tight hips, a gentler variation is doing this simple stretch on your back.  This is a pose that is usually done at the end of a yoga class when hips are more open; thus, it may be better for you child to begin with the modified pigeon on their back and then move to the full version.  Afterwards discuss the two versions of pigeon with your child and see which one resonated with them and why. 

What are the Benefits?

Peaceful Pigeon stretches the hips, glutes, hamstrings and groin.  Peaceful pigeon pose opens the hips.  Pigeon pose promotes inner peace.  It reduces stress and tension. 

What to Say.

  • We are going to be Peaceful Pigeons.  Lay on your back and cross one ankle over the opposite knee.  Making a figure four.  Flex your toes.
  • Now lift your knees up.  Thread your arms through the triangle between your legs and clasp your hands around the back of your leg.
  • Breath in and out for 5 breaths. 
  • Bring knees together and rock side to side for a moment before switching sides. Notice how you feel. 
  • We are going to be Peaceful Pigeons one more time, but in this version our pigeon is going to sit up tall and puff out his chest. 
  • Begin in Down Dog.  Bring your right knee forward toward your right hand.  Angle your knee to the right and slide your shin forward as much as comfortable. 
  • Extend your left leg out long behind you.  Try to not lean to one side or the other. 
  • Take a deep breath in as you sit up tall.  Breath in and out for three breaths. 
  • Tuck your toes and come into Down Dog for a moment before switching side.  Notice how you feel. 

Peaceful pigeon can be done on the ground, in a hammock, or even facing a friend! If your child has tight hips or just needs a little stress reduction sign them up for one of our aerial yoga + mindfulness 12-week session!

Mindful Art with Blo-Pens

Blo-Pens Mindful Art

Mindful Art Materials

What is Blo-Pen Mindful Art?

Blo-pens combine mindful art and breathing all at once.   Blo-pens give art an airbrushed look and require extra focus and concentration to create pictures. In the middle of a poster board write the word mindfulness in big letters then let the creativity begin.   Allow your child to draw their mindfulness pictures with colored pencils and then color in the picture with the blo-pens.

Benefits

Art and breathing combined double the calming efforts.  Using blo-pens to color in pictures increases attention and decreases stress.    Creating art boosts creativity, self-esteem, and your child’s artistic ability.  Blo-pens enhance deep breathing and mindful awareness.

What to Say

  • We are going to make mindful art with our breath! Mindfulness is written in the middle of your poster board.  Using colored pencils write words and/or draw pictures of your favorite mindfulness activities. 
  • Then we will use the blo-pens to color in the pictures we are have drawn.  For example, I wrote relax and I drew a picture of myself laying in mummy pose.  I made a tree as it is one of my favorite yoga poses. I then wrote calm, balanced, and focused on the branches.  I made a yoga hammock with a heart since I love aerial yoga.  
  • Draw and/or write mindfulness activities that help you feel calm and happy.  Choose your colors mindfully and notice what it feels like to color with the blo-pens. 
  • Reflect on the activity, by asking, “How did using the blo-pens differ from drawing with the colored pencils? Was it harder or easier to focus?” 

Looking for mindful art ideas? Sign up for one of our “Mommy and Me” classes or check out our blog on Lavender Cloud Dough!

Mindfulness Sequence for Reducing Stress

kids mindfulness kansas city

Children are faced with many stressors, such as friends, homework, school, and inadequate sleep. This mindful yoga sequence emphasizes stress reduction to create a sense of calm, while enhancing mindful awareness, focus, and executive functioning.

Begin with Mindful Yoga Breathing

Lay down on your back. Close your eyes, place one hand on your heart and one on your lower belly. Bring the soles of your feet together to form butterfly legs. Notice your heartbeat and breath. Take ten deep breaths in and out through the nose. Fill your hands go up as you breathe in and down as your breathe out.

Add Some Mindful Yoga Movement

Stand up in Mountain Pose and move through a slow sun salutation three times. Breathe deeply in and out through the nose. Take a few extra breaths in inversions such as Forward Fold and Down Dog Pose. When your head is upside down it is calming to the nervous system.

More Mindfulness

Choose a comfortable position. Take a few deep breaths to settle in. Stare at an object you’ve chosen such as a visual timer. Let it fill up your gaze and mind. Tune everything else out. When your mind starts to wander, notice it, and bring it back. When your timer ends, close your eyes and try to keep the object you have been gazing at fixed in your mind. Take a few deep breaths, and when you are ready open your eyes.

End with a Relaxation Story

Find a comfortable position. Place an eye pillow with Young Living lavender essential oil over your eyes. Read one of the relaxation stories from Mindfulness for Children, to your child or make up your own. Try to include progressive muscle relaxation in your story. After your mindfulness practice reflect on the experience with your child. Have them notice how they feel and ask what they enjoyed with most. This will broaden your awareness of the activities that resonated with your child.

Coping Skills for Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common childhood-onset psychiatric disorders. Anxiety disorders in children are associated with educational underachievement and co-occurring psychiatric conditions, as well as functional impairments that can extend into adulthood.

The most recognizable cognitive pattern in anxiety is worry. The child ruminates on “what if” thoughts about negative events that might happen in the future. Worrying is an attempt to prepare and to feel in control. Unfortunately, the brain treats every “what if” thought as something that WILL happen rather than as something that MIGHT happen. This activates the fight or flight reaction even when no actual danger or threat is present.

With coping skills training, your child learns to relax at the first sign of the stress response.  They are able to counter the “what if” thoughts with coping thoughts when faced with a challenging situation.

What are the Benefits of Coping Skills Training?

Coping skills training reduces stress and anxiety. It can improve sleep, happiness and resilience. Coping skills training improves relaxation and calmness, while promoting the ability to manage difficult emotions.

Step One: Relax and Be Mindful

Coping Skills Training at Mindful Child Aerial Yoga is made up of evidence-based relaxation techniques. Here are some of the techniques we use at Mindful Child:

You can significantly reduce stress and anxiety with these techniques, but it will take daily practice. Additionally, the techniques should be taught in the order listed above. Deep diaphragmatic breathing should always be taught first. Poor breathing habits diminish the flow of gases to and from your child’s body, making it harder for them to cope with stressful situations. In addition, to following the specified order it is important to make the activities FUN. My book, Mindfulness for Children: 150+ Mindfulness Activities for Happier, Healthier, Stress-Free Kids, contains breathing and relaxation techniques specifically for children. Better yet – if you are in the Kansas City area, sign-up your child up for a aerial yoga and mindfulness class, camp or kid’s yoga night out.

References

Ma, X., Yue, Z. Q., Gong, Z. Q., Zhang, H., Duan, N. Y., Shi, Y. T., … Li, Y. F. (2017). The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults. Frontiers in psychology8, 874. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00874

Manzoni, G. M., Pagnini, F., Castelnuovo, G., & Molinari, E. (2008). Relaxation training for anxiety: a ten-years systematic review with meta-analysis. BMC psychiatry8, 41. doi:10.1186/1471-244X-8-41

Four Ways to Reduce ADHD Symptoms

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a complex disorder that can affect individuals across the lifespan. In recent years, ADHD has been on the rise in children. Neuroscience has shown us that Dopamine, a neurotransmitter important in mood regulation, is lower in the brains of children with ADHD. Additionally, the brains of individuals with ADHD are structurally different with reduced volume in regions responsible for focus and attention such as the prefrontal cortex and cerebellum.

The good news is…

The good news is the brain has neuroplasticity, which means that it can grow and change with stimulation and the right nutrient intake.

Enhance your child’s well-being using these strategies:

  1. Limit processed foods. Children should eat real, whole foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, and seeds.  Whole foods are full of nutrients that your child’s brain and body needs to function correctly.  A whole food diet can aid in neurotransmitter production, cognition, and enhance health.  You do not need to eliminate all packaged and processed foods, but significantly reducing processed foods is the best thing you can do for your child’s health.
  2. Reduce sugar intake. Sugar is harmful to all kids, but it is especially harmful to those with ADHD. Research has found that sugar can dysregulate levels of dopamine, which are already lower in children with ADHD. Added sugar, that is processed and doesn’t occur naturally in whole foods such as fruits, is harmful to the brain and body. One can of soda contains 10 teaspoons or more of added sugar, which is more than the daily minimum, not to mention the other harmful artificial ingredients such corn syrup.
  3. Load up on healthy fats. Healthy fats are good for the brain and nervous system because both, are mostly made up of fats. Omega-3s are an example of healthy fats that reduce inflammation. Healthy fats can be found in nuts, salmon, and avocados. These fats keep your child’s brain healthy by helping neurotransmitters function properly.
  4. Exercise regularly. Exercise helps dopamine functioning. It is not only important for physical health, but mental health as well. Movement promotes the release of “feel good chemicals” such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Our favorite form of exercise is aerial yoga. Other forms of exercise such as running, biking, swimming and karate are also good for the brain and body.
  5. Be Mindful. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention on purpose. When your child practices mindfulness it trains their brain to slow down and focus.

In Summary,

If your child has ADHD, you can reduce symptoms naturally by exercising regularly, eating healthy fats, reducing sugar, practicing mindfulness, and limiting processed foods.

References

Schnoll R, Burshteyn D, Cea-Aravena J. Nutrition in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a neglected but important aspect. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2003;28:63–75. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Kim WK, Cho S. Sugar and cognitive performance. Korean J Nutr. 2007;40(Suppl):50–65. [Google Scholar]

Christiansen, L., Beck, M. M., Bilenberg, N., Wienecke, J., Astrup, A., & Lundbye-Jensen, J. (2019). Effects of Exercise on Cognitive Performance in Children and Adolescents with ADHD: Potential Mechanisms and Evidence-based Recommendations. Journal of clinical medicine8(6), 841. doi:10.3390/jcm8060841

Gratitude Journal

This week our camp theme was gratitude. At Camp Gratitude we made mini gratitude journals. When children think of things they are grateful for it activates the calming part of the nervous system. This helps children to feel not only calmer, but happier. With school getting ready to start, now is a perfect time to make the gratitude journal a healthy habit. Every morning, before school, have your child write or draw one thing he is grateful for in a journal or on the bathroom mirror. What a great way for a child to start, not only their day, but their new school year!

Here are a few prompts to get you started. Ask her to write or draw about:

  • A person you appreciate.
  • A place that makes you happy.
  • An item you love (e.g., backpack, waffles, bike).
  • A skill or ability you are awesome at.
  • A person who makes you laugh.
  • Your favorite song.
  • Something that you accomplished that made you feel good.
  • A sport or hobby you enjoy.
  • A pet you love.
  • A teacher who showed you kindness.

Benefits

Learning to be grateful helps children to develop executive function skills, which are higher level cognitive skills needed to self-regulate. Being grateful increases mindfulness and compassion for others. Being grateful can shift your child’s mood and enhance her overall well-being.

What to Say

  • Did you know that practicing being grateful can make you feel happier and healthier?
  • Each morning think of one thing you are grateful for and write or draw it.
  • Notice how you feel.

Check out our mini gratitude journal from Camp Gratitude.

Want to learn more ways to help children be grateful?  Sign up for  Mindful Child Teacher Training or buy my book, Mindfulness for Children.

Daniel, T., Mindfulness for Children. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2018