Five easy mindful exercises for kids

Kinderling News & Features

Is your kid running at full-speed all the time? Mindfulness - a meditative movement based on ancient Eastern traditions - might just calm that ever-spinning engine. Experts believe exercises can improve kids’ concentration, make them more resilient and help them control their emotions.

But how do you get your toddler to sit still long enough to try it? Karen Young, psychologist and blogger at Hey Sigmund, says it’s not a complicated process. “It’s simply about stepping back and letting your feelings come and go without analysing or judging them. It’s about being present in the moment and kids are already pretty good at that.”

If you can make it a game and turn it into a daily ritual (ideally in the morning or before bedtime), kids can master centuries-old techniques without any trouble at all.

Listen to Karen's interview with Kinderling Conversation

Here’s Karen’s top five exercises to try at home with your Little Buddhas:

1. Mindful Breathing

Get your child lying down comfortably with their eyes closed. Ask them to place their hand on their belly, or put a toy on top of it, so they can watch their belly go up and down. Breathe in five times and out five times.

2. Thought Clouds

Once they’re breathing slowly in and out, get them to imagine their thoughts forming a little cloud above their head. As they breathe out, they can imagine the cloud floating slowly away from them. This teaches kids to let feelings come and go. Thoughts are just passing “visitors” and don’t need to be dwelled upon.

3. Go on a Mindful Safari

This involves taking your little one outside and looking for any animal that crawls, flies or walks. Safari super sleuths have to be quiet and alert, with their hearing, feeling and seeing super-senses switched on so they can discover tiny wild beasts that the world may or may not have seen before. This exercise really focuses kids on what’s happening in the here and now.

4. Superman Pose

With this exercise, join in and do the pose with your kids. Stand like Superman with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Stretch your arms out front with fists clenched. Hold the pose for 20 seconds or more. This pose teaches kids how to feel more powerful and confident and they see how changing the way they hold themselves changes the way they feel.

5. Create a Mindful Jar

Take an empty glass jar (one that’s easy to hold and shake). Fill it with warm water and add a few big blobs of glitter glue, which will dissolve in the water. Shake the jar and get your kids to imagine their thoughts are like the whirling glitter. Talk them through the process with comments such as “See what it’s like when you’re stressed, mad or upset. Look how your thoughts whirl around and make it hard to see clearly…. Don’t worry, it’s normal. This happens to all of us.”

Then put the jar down in front of them and say “Watch what happens when you’re still for a couple of moments. See how the glitter starts to settle and the water clears? Well, your mind works just the same way. When you’re calm, your thoughts settle and you start to see things more clearly.”