Mindfulness is simply paying full attention in the moment. It involves relaxed focusing, without any judgment. For kids, mindfulness may be used to help with managing conditions including autism spectrum disorder, challenging behaviors, ADHD, anxiety and stress. Growing evidence suggests that teaching mindfulness to children can help with learning, decision making, emotional intelligence, self-confidence and connectedness to others.
One easy way for children to dip their toes into mindfulness is through body poses. To get your kids excited, tell them that doing fun poses can help them feel strong, brave, and happy. Have the kids go somewhere quiet and familiar, a place they feel safe. Next, tell them to try one of the following poses:
• The Superman: this pose is practiced by standing with the feet just wider than the hips, fists clenched, and arms reached out to the sky, stretching the body as tall as possible.
• The Wonder Woman: this pose is struck by standing tall with legs wider than hip-width apart and hands or fists placed on the hips.
Ask the kids how they feel after a few rounds of trying either of these poses. You may be surprised.
This can teach kids how to stay present. Instruct your kids to turn-on their “Spidey senses,” or the super-focused senses of smell, sight, hearing, taste, and touch that Spiderman uses to keep tabs on the world around him. This will encourage them to pause and focus their attention on the present, opening their awareness to the information their senses bring in. This is a classic mindfulness exercise and encourages observation and curiosity—great skills for any human to practice.
A listening walk is simply going for a walk with your child, focusing on your surroundings and sharing your findings. Familiar places are great because your child can discover things they haven’t noticed before. A listening walk helps teach your child patience and how to be present in the moment.
How to do a mindful listening walk:
• Ask your child where they would like to walk. Places such as a garden or beach are great as they have natural sounds like leaves rustling or waves crashing
• Ask your child what sounds they expect to hear and why
• Stop often, close your eyes and encourage your child to listen. After a minute or two, ask your child what sounds they heard and why they think they heard them.