As we step into 2019 and ideas of New Year’s resolutions swirl about, you may begin to think about the ways you can improve your daily routine. How can I make my days less stressful? What can I do to keep my family calm and relaxed? One way we can accomplish these seemingly monumental tasks is through a little practice known as mindfulness! For more on the benefits of mindfulness, be sure to read this great article by the Child Mind Institute.
So what exactly is mindfulness? Mindfulness is being aware of oneself. This can include the ability to regulate one’s emotions and breathing as well as practicing relaxation techniques for the body and mind. Some may refer to mindfulness as self-regulation or even body awareness. It is important to remember that mindfulness is something that can be taught. Though we as adults may not all have as much practice in self-regulation as we would like, it is easy to introduce to adults and little ones alike.
Get in Touch with the Senses:
One fun and easy way to teach mindfulness to your little ones is through sensory activities. This can include tactile play with things such as sand, playdough, slime or even just a barefoot walk in the grass. As your child is experiencing these sensory activities, you can prompt them with simple questions to increase their own awareness. You can start with things like: what does the sand feel like in your hands? Is the grass cold or warm? Does it tickle your toes to walk barefoot? How does it make you feel when you squish the slime in your hands? As you take part in these activities with your little one, you can plant the seeds of mindfulness with comments of your own such as: I love playing with playdough because pressing and shaping the dough helps me feel calm. Visit https://lemonlimeadventures.com/simple-sensory-activities-that-teach-mindfulness/ for more ideas on mindful sensory play.
Another great way to practice mindfulness at home is to share stories. In fact, there are wonderful stories for children that specifically teach emotional regulation, body awareness and calming practices through child friendly adventures. Below are five great stories to consider.
Breath by Breath (Paul Christelis) – Follows three friends who discover how breathing can keep them calm, confident and happy.
Crab and Whale (Mark Pallis & Christiane Kerr) – Crab helps his friend Whale when he becomes stranded on the beach. This story is a great portrait of friendship and dedication when times are tough.
Rosie’s Brain (Linda Ryden) - Discusses the parts of the brain that help us manage our emotions; a great read for emotional awareness.
Henry is Kind (Linda Ryden) - A story about practicing and sharing kindness with others.
The Lemonade Hurricane (Licia Morelli) – A little girl teaches her high-energy brother what it is to be still and calm.
Check out more mindful stories here.
Being mindful can involve more than just breathing practices. Art can be a great way to calm the body and heighten the senses for even the youngest friends. Sensory experiences such as finger painting can connect your child with their sense of touch and allow them to discover texture, temperature and feeling. Another creative way to teach mindfulness is with home-made glitter calm down jars. The concept behind the glitter jar is that your child has the ability to watch the glitter in the jar fall and enjoy quiet time. Here are some ways to make your own.
Yoga with your little one is not as far-fetched as one might imagine. Not only is yoga a great practice in body and breathe awareness, it can help regulate emotion and calm the mind. A great place to get started is Cosmic Kids, which features wonderful yoga videos for little ones presented through fun and exciting settings such as under the sea, in space and even with their favorite characters.
For more mindful activities, come join us at San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum for Mindful Family Night, Tuesday January 15th from 5:00-7:00pm featuring yoga, music, crafts and more. We hope to see you there!
About the author:
Gigi is an educator at San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum. As an educator and a student, Gigi always finds it valuable to learn new skills. Being mindful is a practice that we can all utilize to make our lives and the lives of our little ones that much more enjoyable. Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2019!