How to inspire kids to embrace mindfulness?

Written by Nivedita Garg
Published: December 18, 2022
Founder of Joyful Parenting, NLP practisioner, YALE, Harvard & UC San Diego certified personal coach with over 10 Years of experience in helping individuals beat stress and lead joyful lives

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“In today’s rush, we all think too much—seek too much—want too much—and forget about the joy of just being.”- Eckhart Tolle

The art of just being, though the easiest thing to do, is in fact the most difficult art to develop. However, this skill can be developed from an early age so that it becomes a part of the subconscious mind and children can practice it naturally.

Mindfulness is the state of feeling bliss, just the way you are, at this very moment. It is the art of being and not trying to be. You are giving your 100% to this very moment. It is when you are aware of your own emotions.

Mindfulness is a simple concept and should be treated as a natural way of being. As parents when you are mindful of your own feelings and that of your children, you will realize it helps you understand each other better. It helps children handle their school and college life with ease and independence. It can also enhance their focus and concentration, thereby boosting their confidence. It helps them combat stress and anxiety.  Overall mental health improves and children turn out to be happier adults.

Mindfulness activities for kids

1. Whenever they eat their food or drink something, ask them to feel the taste. Tell them to close their eyes and play a game, where you tell them to guess the flavours in it. 

2. Take them to the garden, and tell them to notice the colours around them and smell the flowers around them. Ask them where they feel the sensation in their body. This makes them more aware of their own feelings as well.

3. Lie down on the grass, and look at the vast blue sky. Just be. This makes their perspective wider and allows the brain to think big.

4. Do their favourite superhero pose; it can be superman, wonder woman, hulk or any other. They have to stand in that pose for 30 seconds. Once they do this, ask them how they feel. This can be done at the time they feel low, or scared. It will allow them to build self-confidence.

5. Sit with your child, close your eyes and do Om chanting for 1 minute. Allow them to feel the vibrations in their body. Then just breathe in and breathe out. Ask them to feel this breath and with every incoming breath,  feel that the energy is filling their body and with every outgoing breath all the negativity is leaving them.

6. Let them have alone time. During this time they can do painting, colouring, listen to music, or do anything they enjoy. The idea is for them to be able to sit with themselves. This way they are not dependent on happiness from outside.

7. Have a gratitude jar for each one of the members of the family. Every night, put one slip for what they are grateful for in the jar. Every Sunday open the jar together as a family and talk about what made each one of you happy.

8. Every time you or your child experience anger, stop and repeat the phrase “Golden sunrise” till you feel calmer. Accept that it is ok to feel anger as it is a natural emotion. Please do not tell children to not get angry. This will bottle up their feelings and they will become introverted and feel insecure that people around them cannot be trusted.

9. Do an activity that your children enjoy and be in the moment with them. Set aside all your tasks and phone and be with them completely. It could be playing with balloons, bubbles, board games or any activity they enjoy.

10. When there are fights or disputes, rate your feelings of anger, stress, and irritability on a scale of 1 to 10 and allow the child to do the same. This will give you both a sense of how serious the situation is and who is to understand whom at that point as it will make the problem more tangible, thereby allowing the brain to diffuse it wisely.

11. When things are not going the way you both are expecting, learn to press the PAUSE button. This will allow the brain to come out with better ways to handle the situation.

12. Play the heartbeat exercise with them. Tell them to jump up and down for a few minutes. Once they stop, tell them to put their hands on their heart and feel the rhythm.

13. Go for a walk. Keep your five senses aware and have a conversation with your child. Actually, hear what they are saying without pre-judging them. Let them speak. Hole their hand or give some kind of touch. Look into their eyes and have a smile on your face. This will help them share their feelings and build a trusting connection between the two of you.

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When to practice mindfulness?

1. Choose a time when you both are in a positive mindset.

2. Allow them to drain out their energy by doing some physical activity so that they are prepared to sit.

3. Try to practice it at the same time every day.

How to practice it?

1. Allow children in the decision-making process. When you choose the activity for the day, do not force it on them. Make them part of the process so that they are involved and willing.

2. Allow them to share their experience after that, and be open to it even if they feel negative.

3. Practice it yourself, so they know you are not just preaching. This will allow them to believe in the process.

4. Stop the activity before they get bored, and while they are at the peak of enjoying them. This will want them come back to it the next day.

Mindfulness is an empowering tool and can make you and your child happier and stress-free. Make it fun and don’t enforce too many rules while doing these activities. It loses its very essence of it. Always remember, children are looking up to you, so before you start doing these activities with them, practice it yourselves. This will allow you to understand the initial challenges so you can help your children get over them.

Be patient, and don’t expect immediate results. Every human is different and some may take it easy, but some may have excess baggage and will take time to adapt to it.

Trust yourself and your child that you are trying to be mindful. Believe in them so they have a safe spot in their lives.

Acceptance is the key. See things as they are unfolding, so you are empowered to act accordingly.

More than anything, enjoy the process and have a good time!

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The views expressed are that of the expert alone.

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