Today, we’re looking at mindfulness activities for kids!
Now, it’s important to get one idea out of the way. Mindfulness meditation might make you think of sitting still with deep breathing and letting thoughts drifts in and out of your mind until you reach the ultimate goal of some higher plane of existence.
However, that’s just not the case (at least with most people). Mindfulness, at its core, is just being able to stay in the present. We don’t focus on past or future stresses. We only focus on what we feel, see, hear, taste, and smell right now. This can be incredibly helpful no matter what age.
But what about kids?
Young tots are in the middle of huge physical and mental changes. Their attention spans (not to mention the ability to communicate emotions) are still forming. So, if you are a parent who wants to start introducing mindfulness to your kids, here are some ideas you can try.
15 Mindfulness Activities for Kids
You probably have one or two of these laying around the house anyway. If not, they’re easy to find and usually quite inexpensive. Just be sure to get something that isn’t too hard, because the idea is to create a few minutes of present awareness rather than frustration.
Or, if you’re into puzzles yourself (and the one you’re working on is way too advanced) you can still include your child with simple things like having them find all the border pieces or ones with dominant colors.
Bounce The Balloon
Usually, kids will smack balloons around with joyful giggles. This is great for fun and burning off energy.
But to turn this into a mindfulness activity, tell them that the balloon is like a delicate bubble. They have to touch it and move it around the room very carefully. It forces them to slow down and focus on the environment and movements.
There will ALWAYS be art supplies in a house with kids. Use this to your advantage and change it into a simple art/mindfulness exercise. Choose a unique object from the house, outside, or something borrowed for new stimuli and have them draw the object. However, have them focus on drawing as many details as possible. Accuracy is not the goal – focus and staying in the moment is.
The “Now” Journal
Get a notebook and have your child decorate it (which is a fun activity all in itself). This new journal will be for one thing only.
Depending on how old they are and what their attention span is like, have them write down what they are experiencing at that moment – what they see, smell, hear, feel, etc. (emotionally and physically).
This one might take a little more preparation but is very much worth the extra time. Go outside with your phone and do an audio recording of different places in your neighborhood.
Next during the mindfulness time you’ve allotted for your kids, play the clip and have them say/write as many sounds as they can hear. To make this about staying in the present rather than a stressful test, let them hear the clip(s) as many times as they want – with whatever number of answers they end up with being correct.
This one is an oldie but a goodie. There are plenty of guided audio clips out there to help you and your kiddo go through a total body relaxation journey.
However, all you really need is a quiet space and your own words. Also, it can help to have your kids flex the area as hard as they can and then release while letting out a long, relaxing breath.
5 Senses Stroll
Even if your family isn’t one to get out into nature, it’s the perfect push to stretch those walking muscles. It’s a relaxing way to practice mindfulness because all they need to do is voice whatever of the 5 senses they are experiencing during the walk. There will be a plethora of smells, sights, and sounds to keep them in the present.
Perhaps the moment calls for something a little more calming and simple. Just find a quiet place with your child to practice deep breathing. However, make sure to count each breath – it helps keep them “in the now.”
Kids love a good mystery. So, the next three activities will be something quite exciting but also a wonderful exercise in mindfulness. Collect different things that have distinct smells – orange peels, rose petals, vinegar, etc.
Next, have kiddos put on a blindfold. All they have to do is take a whiff and guess. However, don’t put it right under their nose. Keep it a little bit away so they have to really concentrate on targeting the smell. And, as always, give them as many chances as they want.
What Am I Tasting?
This mindfulness activity, similar to brain games, is the same but with eating – blindfolds and all. Be sure to collect a variety of yummies. Also, don’t let them just say “apple!”, have them go into detail (as much as they can for their age).
This one can be the most challenging out of the three “blind mindfulness” activities. However, it can also keep kids engaged longer. Collect things like bark, petals, fabric, toys, pencil shavings, etc. All they need to do is touch/feel/interact with the object and figure out what it is.
You can also hold the object with your child which can be a lovely, tactile bonding experience.
One Foot Challenge
Balancing on one foot is harder than it looks! Mixing it with deep breathing and focusing on a certain point (so you don’t topple over) is sort of a baby stepping stone towards yoga. All of this, believe it or not, is a wonderful mindfulness activity. There’s so much to focus on in the present!
Yep! That game is where you find something in the room and people ask questions to narrow things down until they find the object. It’s a wonderful activity that keeps you away from past or future distractions.
Some people call this “walking on ice”, but the idea is that kids have to move from point A to B (sometimes while completing a task) while pretending that every surface is very delicate (like thin ice). It’s great to slow things down while teaching mindfulness.
We’re so used to scarfing down food – either because we’re hungry, it tastes great, or we’re in a hurry. Taking our time to savor our meal isn’t something most of us do anymore. So, why not incorporate 5 minutes of mindfulness eating during meals?
How does the meal taste? What does it feel like in their mouths? Can they taste any ingredients? What smells are coming off their plates? Same with their drinks.
As you can see, there are so many pre-existing kids’ games and activities that are already wonderful doorways into mindfulness exercises. And remember, it’s not about making their minds empty and peaceful. It’s just about getting them to focus on the present and consider brain training.