July 26, 2022
What’s a fun aspect of being a single woman in your thirties? Glad you asked. For me it’s being the cool aunt to all the wonderful littles in my family and friend groups. I get all the glory of cooking up games and entertainment for the kids, without having to worry about the clean up.
Since mindfulness has been such a game-changer for me (pun intended), lately I’ve been trying to find ways to incorporate some of the benefits of mindfulness practice in activities with the kiddos in my life. Research shows that for children mindfulness can: mitigate effects of bullying, promote compassion, improve mental health, enhance social skills, and increase focus, attention, and self-control.
Teaching mindfulness to kids doesn’t have to be a chore, and it’s made easier for all involved when approached through a lens of lighthearted playfulness. Here are some fun activities you can try with your kids, nieces and nephews, or chosen family members this summer.
Get Outdoors and Be Present in Your Offline Surroundings
Be mindful about your phone usage. While the temptation to jump on the next TikTok trend is real, limiting the use of devices around kids makes for a more connected and rewarding time spent together. It also models the behavior of being present, engaged and paying focused attention to the task at hand. Make a game of tuning into your surroundings. I’m a fan of the classics: I Spy, identifying shapes in clouds, or going on a treasure hunt to collect artifacts in nature. You can also try exploring the senses and get the kids to name: five things they can see at this moment, 4 things they can hear, 3 things they can touch, 2 things they can smell and one thing they can taste.
Release Energy and Connect to Emotions Through Movement
Yoga is a great way to get out of the mind and into the body, for kids and grownups alike. It may not be realistic to get a child to join you for practice, but as with most things, you can always make a game out of it. The ‘statue game’ provides a release when energy levels are high. Put on some music, let loose and dance around. Pause the music, call out the name of a yoga pose and get everyone to hold it for 5 seconds. Going further, you can open up discussion of how the different poses make you feel. Maybe the warrior pose makes you feel strong, or doing a happy baby pose makes you feel silly. The key is to make connections between body poses and emotions.
Try Child-Friendly Awareness of Breathing Practices
Blowing bubbles is a favorite activity for kids, and you can use it as a teaching moment for conscious breathing. Show the kids how to take slow, deep inhalations and long, steady exhalations while playing with a bubble wand. If you left your bubble wand at home, you can try something called buddy breathing. Have the child lie down with a stuffed animal on their belly, getting them to observe how the toy rises and falls as they deepen their breath. Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system and helps instill a sense of calm. There’s no shortage of techniques you can try if you get creative with it, like: blowing out imaginary candles, sniffing the flowers, or exhaling like a bumblebee bee or a snake.
If the kids in your life are a bit older, try setting aside some time to participate in a short guided practice together. These Ten Short Everyday Mindfulness Practices provide an easy way to dip toes into the mindfulness pool for beginners.
Interested in learning more about the benefits of bringing mindfulness home? Check out eM Life’s 7 Days of Mindful Parenting on-demand.
Written by Annie Slaby