More and more children are experiencing issues with stress and anxiety. A child struggling with stress and anxiety will show some of the following symptoms: stomachaches, headaches, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, moodiness, clinginess, or refusing to go to school. Parents can help children who struggle with these issues by teaching them at a very young age techniques for coping with unpleasant feelings and experiences. Mindfulness is one technique that has proven to be valuable.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is being aware of your movements, the world around you and your interactions with other people — taking notice of what you are thinking, feeling and experiencing each day. By teaching children mindfulness and the ability to focus and live in the moment, children learn to relax and let go of anxious thoughts and feelings.
Mindfulness activities for children
Butterfly breathing to calm
Sit up straight and comfortably. Rest your hands on your desk or in your lap. Close your eyes. Feel your feet on the floor. Relax your shoulders. Let your whole body be still. Feel the air moving in and out of your nose. Interlace your fingers and place your hands under your chin. Breathe in through your nose and lift your elbows up and out to the sides. Breathe out through your nose and lower your elbows down toward each other. Repeat.
Shake like spaghetti to relax
Stand up tall with your arms by your sides. Stand with your feet apart. Imagine that your entire body is made out of spaghetti noodles! Gently shake one spaghetti arm. Shake it up high. Shake it down low. Now, shake both spaghetti arms. Shake them to one side. Shake them to the other side. Now close your eyes and shake, shake, shake your spaghetti arms as fast as you can. Now open your eyes, keep shaking your spaghetti arms and shake one spaghetti leg. Shake the other spaghetti leg. Close your eyes and shake your whole spaghetti body. Shake faster. Keep shaking. Freeze! Keep your eyes closed and stand very still. Feel the tingling in your arms and legs. Listen to the quiet. Now, take a big breath in and breathe out slowly. Think about how you feel for five seconds. Slowly open your eyes.
Bee’s buzz to focus
Sit comfortably with legs crossed. Place your hand on your knees and sit up straight and tall. Stay quiet and don’t move. When bees buzz, they make a quiet humming sound like this: hmmmmmmmm. Now it’s your turn to make a quiet humming sound. Take a big breath in. Breathe out and quietly hum: hmmmmm. Repeat. Try again, this time closing your eyes and covering your ears. Take a big breath in. Breathe out and quietly hum: hmmmmmmmm. Rest your hands on your knees. How do you feel? Wait 5 seconds and slowly open your eyes.
Mindfulness activities from Calm Classroom, Jai and Joy Luster, Luster Learning Institute, July 2014.