Tag Archives: kid’s mindfulness

Three Ways Mindfulness Techniques Can Help Kids

kids mindful breathing

Mindfulness is a great tool for children during this unprecedented time.  With activities and schedules being turned upside down due to COVID-19, mindfulness techniques can help kids to reduce the stress and handle big emotions.  The best part about mindfulness is there are many different ways to be mindful – from mind-body practices like breathing exercises, yoga and mindful eating, to stillness practices like guided relaxations. There is something for everyone in the family to try. In these uncertain times, when we all truly need to feel supported and connected, I encourage parents to explore mindfulness and see how it might support them and their family.

Here are few mindfulness techniques to try at home:

  • Be mindful outdoors.  Take a ride your bike.  Research tells us that spending time in nature can change how we feel.  As you ride, pay close attention to what you see, hear, feel, and smell.  If you have a basket, maybe even gather objects such as rocks, sticks, and leaves to create an art project or mandala. 
  • Focus on the good. Every cloud has a silver lining, but sometimes it can be hard to find that silver lining when you are experiencing stress.  Encourage your child to use her breath, while thinking of a positive affirmation such as “I am happy.”  This will shift the negative mindset to a positive one.
  • Take deep breaths.  Breathing techniques are a useful tool for self-regulation.  Many children express how taking deep Elevator Breaths helped them to fall asleep at night or even in yoga! Taking ten deep breaths is a simple solution for big emotions that can be done anytime and anywhere.  It is truly an amazing tool for reducing stress. 

What makes an activity mindful, is if we pay attention to the activity while using our senses.  That being said, there are lots of ways to cultivate mindfulness. If you need a few ideas check out Mindful Child Online classes or my book, Mindfulness for Children, 150+ Activities for Healthier, Happier, Stress -Free Kids. When beginning a mindfulness practice, start small with a few minutes a day.  Also, try to pick a consist time to practice mindfulness to make it a habit.  If your children are doing schoolwork, add in a few minutes of mindfulness throughout the day.  Set time aside so that the whole family can practice together.  After COVID-19 is over, kids will think back fondly on the mindfulness activities they did as a family. 

Brain-Focused Strategies for Focus

Kid’s Mindfulness and Aerial Yoga

Focus is defined as the center of interest or activity. Focusing your attention on what is happening in the moment is part of being mindful. A easy way for children to improve attention is by focusing on their bodies. Brain-based strategies encourage children to notice their breath and heartbeat, and pay attention to how it changes during and after movement. Learning to notice these internal changes will help enhance focus and resilience.

Four Brain-Based Strategies to Improve Focus

  • Breath Work. Teaching children to control their breath can help them become less reactive when feeling anxious or stressed. Paying attention to breathing also supports functioning in the higher brain regions responsible for cognitive processing, such as the prefrontal cortex. A one minute breathing practice can prime the brain for learning!
  • Yoga. Yoga poses, especially balancing poses require concentration and strength. Paying attention to the sensations in the body, whether active or moving, is an important step in enhancing mindful awareness.
  • Mindfulness. For children, mindfulness is defined as the practice of paying attention, with the senses. Mindfulness fosters the ability to become more connected to the body and mind, which improves awareness and focus.
  • Guided Relaxation. Relaxation stories calm the body and mind. They encourage a healthy imagination and develop body awareness. Not able to come up stories on your own? Stress Free Kids is a great website for relaxation stories.

In Summary,

At Mindful Child, we combine social and emotional learning with aerial yoga to teach children self-control. We use brain-based strategies to help children deepen their understanding of their own mental processes. When children are aware of their brain-body connection they are more resilient, confident, and focused. Neuroscience tells us that practicing brain-based activities will enhance receptivity to learning in both academic and social-emotional areas.

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.

Do It Yourself Shuffle Bubbles

Shuffle Bubbles are bubbles made from a solution that is stronger than typical bubble solution so it doesn’t pop as easily! Children can actually catch and pass the bubbles. Parents can make the solution using the recipe below or buy an inexpensive Shuffle Bubble set online. Shuffle Bubbles is also a good lesson in self-control. Children love popping bubbles, but in Shuffle Bubble we want the bubbles to last as long as possible, so they must demonstrate impulse control and not pop the bubbles.

Bubble Materials

  • Bubble Catching Gloves
  • 1 cup Dish Soap (Dawn Original Dish Soap works best for bubbles)
  • 1/4 Cup Glycerin Oil (can buy this at Amazon or Hobby Lobby)
  • 2 Tablespoons White Corn Syrup
  • 1/2 Cup Bubble Solution

Bubble Blower Materials

How to Make a Bubble Blower

  • Bunch up five straws.
  • Hold them tightly.
  • Wrap decorative tape around the straws at the top, middle, and bottom.

Benefits

Blowing bubbles helps children relax. Catching the bubbles and shuffling them to a friend increases focus, social skills, and enhances cooperative play. Shuffle Bubbles develops executive functioning skills, which help children to self-regulate and show self-control

What to Say

We are going to wear magic bubble-catching gloves so that we can catch bubbles. Remember the goal is to catch the bubble, not to pop it. Let’s take three deep Balloon Breaths before we get started.

Slowly and mindfully blow a bubble. Catch the bubble in your hand and shuffle it to a friend. Be mindful when handling the bubbles because they will pop if you aren’t very gentle with them. Now let’s see how many times we can bounce the bubble back and forth before it pops.

Mindfulness Challenge

For an extra mindfulness challenge build a bubble tower in your hand! Hold your gloved hand out in front of you. Position your bubble blower so your hand is below it. Slowly let the bubbles drop onto your gloved hand. TADA! Behold your bubble tower.


Mindful Nature Walk

What is Mindful Nature Walk?

Nature Walk is taking a walk with your child; however, he pretends he is walking in the wilderness. While on the walk your child will notice all the wildlife on the walk. The goal is to notice as many details about the birds, insects and other animals as they can. Giving your child a magnifying glass or binoculars really allows them to see bugs and birds up close and notice details they may have missed in the past.

What are the Benefits?

Nature Walk builds visual memory and visual observation skills. It helps children focus their attention and concentrate.Wildlife walk promotes mindful awareness and mindful movement.

What to Say.

  • Let’s go on a wildlife walk! As we walk through the wilderness we want to remain quiet and mindful. We will walk slowly so we don’t miss anything.
  • Turn your senses on high and notice all the birds, bugs and wildlife that you can. Remember we are always kind to our environment. Just notice the wildlife, don’t interact with it.
  • Use your magnifying glass or binoculars to watch the wildlife in silence and notice what it sounds like, how it moves, and what colors you see.
  • Afterward we will draw what we’ve observed so really pay attention and watch all the insects, animals, and birds that you find. Reflect on the Wildlife Walk by asking, “Was it hard to focus on just one thing? Which details were easier to remember? Did you notice something that you haven’t noticed before? What helped you keep your focus?”

Mindfulness Challenge

For older children, search for objects in nature to explore as well. Have them notice what it looks like, smells like, how it feels, and if it makes a sound. Ask them to remember as many details as possible. When you return from the walk ask your child to write down all the details they remember and reflect on the experience. Discuss ways mindful seeing connects to real life. You may ask, “How does mindful seeing help someone who has seen an accident? How does being mindful help you at school? What are jobs that require mindful seeing and memory skills?”

Want to learn more? Join us for our kid’s yoga and mindfulness teacher training this summer!

A Mindfulness Activity to Improve Your Child’s Well-Being

What is Take Flight?

This mindfulness activity requires visualization and a good imagination.  Have your child imagine they are bird in flight.  As he is flying over the earth, ask your child to look down on all the things he is grateful for.  Next, have your child draw a picture of the bird flying over all the wonderful things he has to grateful for in his life. 

What are the benefits?

Visualization coupled with gratitude is a powerful combination to shift a negative mood to a positive mood.  Take flight is relaxing, enhances well-being, and encourages mindful reflection. 

What to Say.

Lay down in a comfortable position such as Corpse or Mummy Pose.  Close your eyes.  Let’s take a couple Elevator Breaths.  Imagine you’re a bird.  Think of what your bird looks like.  In your mind, form a picture of your bird.  Is he a small bird or a majestic eagle?  What color is your bird?  Now imagine that your bird has taken flight and is flying over the earth.  Your bird looks down and sees all the things you are thankful for.  Breathe in and out through your nose.  What does your bird see?  Picture the things that you are grateful for as your bird fly’s high overhead.  Remember to keep breathing in and out through your nose, as you picture your bird flying.  Slowly open your eyes and come to an Easy Seated position.  We are going to draw a picture that shows what your bird saw when he was flying. You can even add your bird flying over ahead.  Ready?  Let’s draw!

Want to learn more ways to help your child be mindful? Sign up for a workshop, yoga teachertraining, or buy my book, Mindfulness for Children.

Daniel, T., (2018). Mindfulness for Children: 150+ Mindfulness Activities for Happier, Healthier, Stress-Free Kids Avon, MA: Adams Media

Shift Your Perspective With Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations help children to think positively and believe in themselves.

Materials

Affirmation coloring book or coloring page
Colors, colored pencils or markers
Ambient music

What is Positive Affirmation Coloring?

Positive Affirmation Coloring is a simply buying or downloading an affirmation coloring book and coloring with your child. These can be purchased inexpensively online at Etsy or at local bookstores. Coloring can have therapeutic benefits and be a fantastic mindful activity for children. When coloring is combined with the mood-changing powers of positive affirmations it doubles the calming effects.

What are the benefits of affirmation coloring?

Coloring books with positive affirmations are uplifting and can shift your child’s perspective, creating a positive mindset. Coloring coupled with ambient relaxing music can help your child de-stress and relax.

What do I say?

Let’s sit up tall and practice mindful listening before we begin. While we listen to the relaxing music we are going to color an affirmation page. Affirmations are short positive phrases that focus on what you want out of life. I’m going to pass around the coloring book and I want you to pick an affirmation that means something to you. Tear out that page. As you color, breathe in and out through your nose. Think about the words printed on the page. Say the words in your head as you color. Notice how you feel.

If you are wanting more ways to include positive affirmations in your child’s day or even a children’s yoga class, buy my book, Mindfulness for Children, it is full of simple activities to enhance positivity and mindfulness in children.

Mindful Sound Meditation

Mindful sound meditations improve mindfulness, listening skills, and attention.

It can be difficult to find quiet time in a child’s day. The following exercise will remind you to help children appreciate silencing themselves for a bit to better hear other sounds around them.

What Is Om Gnome?

Om Gnome is a mindful listening meditation.  In this exercise, children will pay close attention to the experience of listening. Play ambient music that includes nature sounds.  Children sit quietly like an Om Gnome and try to detect all the nature sounds in their enchanted garden. After some practice, children may find Om Gnome useful to help settle their minds before homework or any activity that requires sustained concentration.

What Are The Benefits Of Om Gnome?

Om Gnome builds listening skills, attention, and focus. It promotes mindful awareness and self-awareness.

What to Say.

kids mindfulness

Sit up tall in Easy Seated Pose. Place your hands on your knees and make the Focus Mudra also known as Gyan Mudra. Close your eyes. Begin to breathe slow calming breaths in and out through your nose. Imagine that you are an Om Gnome sitting in a tranquil spot in your enchanted garden. Listen to the sounds in the garden. If you listen closely and mindfully you will be able to hear all the magical nature sounds. Slowly open your eyes. What did you hear?

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

Reference

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

5 Ways Mindful Aerial Yoga Improves Your Mental Health

Mindful aerial yoga decreases stress, increases happiness, and enhances focus.

If you think you are frazzled by over commitments, multi-tasking, and digital-age stress, imagine how your children must feel. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), teens are the most stressed out demographic in the United States.  Fortunately, teens and children are drawn to mindful aerial yoga and can reap a multitude of benefits from a consistent practice, especially when mindfulness is added in. Hmmm…I wonder what Kansas City aerial yoga studio is known for combining aerial yoga and mindfulness…

Here are some of the recognized benefits that mindful aerial yoga can provide for you and your child’s mental health:

  • Aerial yoga decreases stress. Research on the biological effects of meditation and yoga found that individuals that practiced mind-body activities, such as aerial yoga, had decreased inflammation in the body.  Even just 10 minutes of mindful aerial yoga can decrease stress and be beneficial to you and your child’s health.
  • Aerial yoga makes you happier. Aerial yoga releases “happy hormones.” Happy hormones are neurotransmitters.  Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that play a major role in mood regulation. Science has found that the practice of activities such as mindfulness and aerial yoga triggers neurotransmitter production.  These neurotransmitters reduce the symptoms of mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, while increasing overall happiness and well-being.
  • Mindful aerial yoga enhances focus. When you are in the present moment, you can not dwell on the past (depression) or worry about the future (anxiety).  When children unplug and experience the art of paying attention on purpose, they reap the benefits of the mindfulness and aerial yoga activities—they enjoy being present, aware, and in the moment, which are important life skills.
  • Mindful aerial yoga increases resiliency. Electrical changes have been noted in the left frontal portion of the brain following mindfulness training, which scientists believe is linked to enhanced resilience. Resilience is the ability to cope in challenging situations and bounce back from adversity. Mindful children can deal with difficult emotions without shutting down and are able to bounce back quicker from disappointment .
  • Aerial yoga and mindfulness change the brain for the better! The brain’s ability to adapt is called neuroplasticity, meaning the brain has pliability and can change with experience. A consistent practice of mindfulness and aerial yoga can create new pathways in the brain, resulting in improved mental health, physical health, and well-being. Way to go aerial yoga and mindfulness!

The evidence from science, indicates mindful aerial yoga is an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety, and best of all there are not ANY side effects. It may also be considered preventive medicine.  This means, that with practice, mindful aerial yoga is a good defense against stress and mental health issues that may arise as the result of stress. It is highly recommended that EVERYONE, both adults and children, reap the benefits of a mindful aerial yoga practice.

Want to learn specific ways to introduce mindfulness and aerial yoga to your child? If you live near Kansas City, register for a mindfulness-based aerial yoga class.   For those outside of the Kansas City area, buy my book, Mindfulness for Children,  and begin your journey to happiness!

References

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

Krishnakumar, D., Hamblin, M. R., & Lakshmanan, S. (2015). Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that affect Behavior and Anxiety-A Modern Scientific Perspective. Ancient Science2(1), 13–19. http://doi.org/10.14259/as.v2i1.171

Kjaer TW, Bertelsen C, Piccini P, Brooks D, Alving J, Lou HC. Increased dopamine tone during meditation-induced change of consciousness. Cognitive Brain Research. 2002;13:255–259. [PubMed]

 

 

Mindful Eating with Berry Kabobs

We do mindful eating in every class and kids love making berry kabobs!

Berries are loaded with vitamins and minerals, making these kabobs a healthy and delicious snack for kids. To add an extra dose of calm, play ambient music while your child loads his skewer.

Benefits

Threading the berries on the skewer builds eye-hand coordination and focus. Mindful eating helps the body digest food better. Berries are a powerful super food that are important for brain and immune health.

What to Say

  • We are going to make berry kabobs. Did you know that eating a variety of berries keeps us healthy and can help us remember things better? Eating a variety of colors is even healthier than eating just one color.
  • Pick eight berries from these bowls. While we are making our berry kabobs we are going to notice every detail of it. Notice the different colors, textures, and smells.
  • Thread the berries onto the skewer. Can you make a pattern with your different colored berries? Listen to the music and be mindful while making your kabobs. Notice what you see, hear, smell, and taste.
  • Eat your kabob slowly, noticing each bite. What did eating silently and mindfully feel like? Did you notice anything that you haven’t noticed before?