“Mindfulness” is definitely on the regular rotation of things we ought to be doing these days.
Being mindful can seem like a daunting task though. The idea is a simple one: you are focusing on the present moment, being relaxed but at the same time alert and aware of what you’re sensing and feeling. It is said to benefit not only your physical and mental health but also your overall well-being.
I first started doing these types of activities as a way to help my children get ready for bed.
A friend of mine suggested trying these mindfulness cards that can be found on Amazon. Although not all of the activities are for bedtime, you can adapt most of them to meet your own child’s needs. If you have school-aged children, they can read the brightly illustrated cards and do the exercises on their own.
There are many techniques to achieve mindfulness with your children. Meditation might work well for adults, but when it comes to your kiddos, movement practices might just be the ticket to mindfulness. Here are a few resources to get you focused on focusing.
Turn your family’s daily walk into an exercise in mindfulness by focusing on the sights and sounds you experience outside. You can add the sensation of touch by finding objects along the way and comparing textures—maybe a smooth vs. rough rock? Or compare wet vs. dry with the dew on the grass and the dry pavement?
Sit down with your child and color your feelings. Ask them why they chose the colors they did to open up a dialogue about their emotions, focusing on the present moment.
Pay attention to your breathing
If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you’ve experienced guided breathing. Have your child lay on their back with their hand on their tummy and focus on the in and out of each breath, taking it nice and slowly. I find this especially useful at bedtime when my kids need to slow down from the excitement of the day or when they’ve had an argument and are very angry.
Another great bedtime activity is the full-body scan. You want to draw attention to a specific part of your body, going either from toe to head or head to toe. Direct your child to focus on any emotions or physical sensations they have during the scan. This is one of my most used activities when my kids are feeling anxious. It promotes calm and helps them relax.