Mindfulness is a great practice to get your kids in the habit of. But what exactly is mindfulness? Many people equate mindfulness with meditation. While meditation can help kids learn mindfulness, it’s not the only way they can learn to be mindful. Mindfulness is simply a state of being in which the mind is focused on the here and now, without allowing thoughts of the past or future to interrupt, and without judging current thoughts.
You can help your kids learn more about mindful behaviors by reading Kelly Caleb’s Now Cow books on mindfulness for children to or with them. Continue reading to learn more ways your kid can be mindful without meditation.
Focus with Music
Listening to music can be calming, energizing, or both. Getting lost in a good song or three is an effective way to practice mindfulness. You don’t need to play “kid” music for your child to enjoy or learn to focus on music. Classical music and jazz have a lot going on that your kid can listen to and focus on. In addition to focusing on the music itself, have your child focus on how the music makes their body feel and what emotions it brings up.
After each song, take a minute or two to talk about their physical and emotional response to the piece. If they find that thoughts about the future or past are interrupting their enjoyment of the music, encourage them to notice the thoughts and let them go, focusing solely on the music.
Focus on Movements
This is an activity that children love. When they are about to do a regular daily activity, such as preparing to leave the house for the day or getting ready for bed, have them narrate each movement they make. For example, “I put my left arm in my coat. I put my right arm in my coat. I zip up my coat. I look for my hat. I put my hat on my head. I put on my left boot.” And so on.
This forces your child to focus on each little movement they make, causing them to be in the moment without worrying about the past or future. You can talk to them about repeating this practice inside their heads any time they are feeling overwhelmed. Even when they are walking, they can repeat, “lifting, moving, placing, stepping,” for each foot, each step. This can ground them in the moment any time they feel the need.
Soak up Nature
There is research that indicates spending even a short time in nature promotes well-being, a pleasant mood, and alertness. So when possible, take your child outside into a natural setting and have them focus on what they see, hear, smell, and can touch around them. Depending on where you are and how safe it is, there may even be things they can taste. Encourage them to notice as many things as they can while out in nature and talk about what they noticed when they go back inside. They may want to draw what they saw, write about it, make up a song about it, or express it in some other creative way.
Mindfulness without Meditation
There are plenty of ways to encourage mindfulness in your kids without having to practice meditation. Some kids take to meditation really well, and if that’s your child, that’s great—keep it up. But some kids simply don’t. Mindfulness is not out of reach for your child if that’s true for them. Mindfulness is truly for everybody. Another non-meditation way to practice mindfulness is to read with your kids. Start with Kelly Caleb’s Now Cow books on mindfulness for children to see the many ways they can practice mindfulness that are fun and entertaining.
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