Children can be busy and over-scheduled. After the school day there are homework assignments, chores, extracurricular activities, and practice for those activities. Sometimes there is pressure to do more and be more than just kids. With extra stress, it can be hard for children to be fully absorbed in a moment while engaging in imaginary play, reading a book, or in their activities because their minds are in overdrive.
Perpetual brain activity is bound to take a toll both physically and psychologically on a child. When a mind is full, it cannot be mindful, so children end up missing out on getting to fully experience all of the great stuff that immersing themselves in a moment provides. Children learn to pay attention to themselves through mindfulness, while also alleviating stress and anxiety.
Children have a need to recharge their batteries on a daily basis in the same way we adults do. There are many activities for kids that teach mindfulness. Simple yoga poses bring a child’s awareness to the moment as they stretch their muscles, feel sensations from those stretches, and try to stay balanced in the poses Breathing exercises are an amazing mindfulness activity for kids. There is great power in taking deep and slow breaths in and back out. Children can close their eyes or keep them open and still reap the benefits.
Our kid’s mindfulness cards help kids learn to control their breath and practice mindfulness. Kids can also do a mental body scan where they take slow breaths into parts of their body starting with their toes and moving gently to the top of their heads. As they breathe in, they imagine they are breathing into a body part and relaxing it as they breathe out. There are also apps to teach kids mindfulness through guided meditation.
Kid’s mindfulness activities provide rich benefits to children without a doubt. So, what are the benefits of mindfulness exercises for kids?
The Benefits of Mindfulness Exercises for Kids
Children of any age, including young children, can reap the benefits of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of bringing both the mind and body to the present moment. Rather than the mind doing what it does best, wandering, it’s fully conscious. This awareness naturally causes the mindset to shift to one of curiosity, non-judgment and acceptance. In a moment of mindfulness, the mind and body are working together cohesively to allow us to fully experience the immediate moment and gain the full benefits of the moment’s experience. Put simply, mindfulness is about noticing what is happening in ourselves and our surrounding. While noticing the breath, we are able to notice how emotions manifest within the body. While noticing ourselves, we are able to notice the world around us in a new way.
Here are seven benefits of mindful activities for kids and practicing mindfulness in general:
1. Mindfulness for children increases focus
It's can be hard for children to discern what is important for them to focus on and can be easy to become distracted. In a classroom setting, kids experience other kids talking, moving around, doors closing, feet stomping and more. While they are supposed to be focusing on the teacher in front of them, a child can easily be diverted by what’s happening around them. Mindfulness exercises for kids help them to increase their attention span and have a stronger ability to focus. Rather than shifting their attention from the teacher to a sound, they can bring awareness back into their body through their breath.
2. Mindfulness for kids heightens resiliency
Children don’t come equipped with coping tools. We adults had to learn valuable coping skills along the way to be able to handle challenges that seem too large. Life brings these types of challenges for each of us. Mindfulness is a healthy way to heighten a child’s resiliency by giving them valuable skills to cope better. Children are also able to engage more fully with themselves and the world around them, which adds to their level of resiliency. Mindfulness for children provides them with “mental armor” to tackle difficulties that are bound to arise.
3. Mindfulness for children enhances creativity
We each have an inner voice and sometimes that voice can be pretty loud. It can be hard to foster new ideas when a child is too stuck in their own mind. Mindfulness training enhances creativity by freeing a child’s mind of chatter so that new ideas can flow with freedom. Creativity is able to flourish when a child’s mind is synced with their body through a mindfulness practice.
4. Mindfulness for kids reduces stress
Stress isn’t just something that adults have to deal with. Children feel the stress and pressure of life, too. It can be hard for a child to manage stress effectively. Science has shown that mindfulness helps children to handle stress better. This absolutely makes sense because by being truly present in a moment, a child is no longer consumed by what is causing them stress. Perhaps that stressed is caused by feeling guilty about something that happened in the past, or anxious about what could happen in the future. The ability to bring awareness to the current moment frees a child from having to handle a time frame outside of the here and now.
5. Mindfulness for children improves empathy
Empathy is an incredibly important social-emotional skill that is part of having a high level of emotional intelligence. Children come into the world as babies fully dependent on their parents to meet their needs. In their first few years, children naturally focus on only themselves and the needs that require being met. It’s with practice and skill-building that children learn how to understand and have compassion for others. Because mindfulness improves a child’s awareness of others, it has been shown to improve empathy, which is the ability to understand what another person is thinking or feeling. Children are able to be more attuned to others in a non-judgmental manner by practicing mindfulness.
6. Mindfulness for kids increases self-regulation
Another component of emotional intelligence is fostering self-regulation. That’s the ability to manage behaviors even when big emotions have come to fruition. Kids have temper tantrums and meltdowns because they aren’t able to verbalize what they are feeling and manage those feelings in a way that serves them better. The practice of mindfulness causes children to become more aware of their emotions. They connect body sensations to feelings. And, in doing so, children are able to increase self-regulation through deep breathing and grounding techniques.
7. Mindfulness for children improves moods
Many of us parents have experienced a child getting stuck in a mood just as their feet would be stuck in tar. You may have tried to plan as much as you could with their emergency snacks packed, busy books for the road, and even their favorite song playing on repeat in the car. But, they seem to be stuck in a negative mindset that travels through the car. Or, perhaps it was at home and you’ve done all you could to make them happy only to be met with complaints and rolled eyes. Mindfulness can improve the mood of a child by providing more positive emotions. Contentment and joy can be just a few slow and deep breaths away.
There are many other benefits not listed here from practicing mindfulness with your child, or teaching them how to do so on their own. Give it a try and watch your child flourish.