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Friday, May 15, 2020

6 Ways Parents Can Share Mindful Moments with Kids

image courtesy Empowering Education

guest post by Noah Teitelbaum of Empowering Education

It can be tricky to figure out how to introduce mindfulness to children in a way they’ll enjoy and appreciate. For teachers or parents who practice mindfulness themselves, this pandemic (or any stressful time) may seem like the perfect time to plop kids down and get them counting their breaths. 

That might work for some kids, but many respond better to less formal and more active versions of mindfulness. In fact, some kids will get anxious when forced to sit in traditional seated mindfulness practice—especially those who have experienced trauma. As an alternative, you can try one of the ideas below.

Mindfulness Activities for Kids

1. Play “What Do You Notice?”

Lie down with your child 
in your house, or in the park, and play a game of noticing as many things as possible in a minute. At the end of that minute ask them to share. (If you share every time you notice something, the activity shifts into a conversation.) Live in a loud city? Maybe you can notice what is happening out on the street with just your ears.

2. Do a mindful body scan as a bedtime routine. 

Here’s a recording of a guided body scan for kids. Or, if you both feel comfortable with this, you can combine massage and a body scan. Invite your child to pay full attention to their feet as you rub them, and to tell you exactly what it feels like, what feels best, etc.

3. Put away the devices while you do something enjoyable. 

If your family is doing a puzzle, then put away the devices and relish giving your full attention to that puzzle.

4. Try roses and thorns as a self-reflection activity to encourage non-judgmental awareness. 

Around the dinner table or at bedtime, ask children to name their rose (best moment) and their thorn (worst moment) for the day.

5. Play Guess Your Pulse.” 

Being able to guess your pulse is correlated with interoception, a fancy word for ‘awareness of what’s going on inside your body.’ Studies have shown that those who have stronger interoception also are better able to manage their emotions.

6. Make storytime engrossing! 

We wrote stories that have mindful breathing embedded, but you can turn any story into a mindful listening activity. Ask children to close their eyes and fully attend to the story and imagine themselves in it. That’s what they want to do anyway, so they’ll really enjoy this!

About the Author:

Noah Teitelbaum is an advocate for social-emotional learning programs and a leader in social emotional curriculum design. He is the Executive Director of Empowering Education, which provides a K-8 SEL program that is mindfulness-based, trauma-informed, and used both in-person and online.  

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