What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is useful for children and adults alike, with children as young as nursery age learning about it in school. Watch a child absorbed in play and you’ll see they are mini mindfulness masters! Mindfulness is paying attention, noticing what’s happening outside of you, as well as inside you (your thoughts and feelings, and just being in the moment). It’s a skill that helps us manage big emotions and challenging experiences. Just like muscles, it’s something we can all build with practice.
Mindfulness Exercises for Children and Parents/Carers:
1.Visualise your 'safe space' to feel grounded:
Think about your favourite places, which make you feel calm. You can visit them anytime in your mind. You could write a journey to your calm safe place, describing with all your senses how it feels to be there.
2. 'Balloon Belly' breathing to feel calm/soothed:
Lie down somewhere comfy and imagine there is a balloon in your tummy. As you breathe in, imagine the balloon slowly inflates. As you breathe out, the balloon effortlessly deflates. Children can rest their favourite toy on their tummy and let them go along for a calming ride.
3. Do a 'Warrior' pose to feel confident and strong:
Stand up tall with your feet wide apart. Turn your right toes out and press your left heel away. Bend your right knee deeply, stretch your arms out at shoulder height and make like a surfer. Hang ten for a few relaxed breaths, feeling the strength of your body, then shake out your legs and try it out on the other side. This is a great distractor from worried thoughts.
4. Embrace the magic of music to switch up your mood:
Harness the mood boosting power of music by making your own playlists – one that helps you feel peaceful, one to help you focus and another to give you a feel-good hit. A good old sing and boogie always lifts the spirits, too.
5. Get creative to express yourself:
Let your feelings out with a spot of art. The choice is yours! You can journal, colour a mandala, make a model from recycling, paint up a storm or make your own animation on Scratch. Enjoy immersing yourself in the act of being creative – no hard work, just fun.
Some online mindfulness activities can be found below: