Mindfulness with children helps them to acknowledge and manage their thoughts. Try these simple games to help them practise being in the moment
Many of these mindfulness with children activities take only a few minutes; try regularly carving out a small part of the day to practise as a family.
Shake Shake Shake
Shake out all the energy from your body until you find stillness or ‘statue still’. Ask yourself: even though you are trying to be still, what still moves?
Dolphin breath: Hands in prayer pose moving your arms up, inhale and crash back down diving into the sea to exhale.
Spiderman breath: Put your hands into fists and put your arms in the air. Draw your arms towards you while you take a deep breath in and then shoot webs from wrists as you stretch your arms on an exhale.
Butterfly breath: Arms stretched out either side to make butterfly wings. As you inhale, bring your hands floating towards the chest like a butterfly’s wings, then stretch your wings out again to exhale.
Crocodile breath: Hold your hands out in front of you like a crocodile mouth. Take a deep breath in as you move your arms apart, one arm over the other, then exhale as you snap hands together.
Elephant breath: Hands together in prayer pose. Reach down to ground, inhale and shoot water into the air as your raise hands up above your head on an exhale (you might like to make the noise of an elephant as you do this!)
Non-competitive mindful games
Try and copy the movements following the words ‘Simon says’.
Follow the leader
Copy whatever movements the leader makes. Take turns being the leader. Can be done while moving around in a circle.
Pass the hula hoop
Holding hands in a circle, use your whole body to move the hula hoop around the circle.
I love chocolate, do you love chocolate?
Each person stands in front of a cone. One person doesn’t have a cone. The person without a cone says a statement that is true for them such as ‘I love chocolate’ followed by the question ‘Do you love chocolate?’. Everyone who also loves chocolate, including the person who made the statement, has to quickly move to a different cone. The person who now doesn’t have a cone makes the next statement.
Allow time to tune in to the after-effects of movement; perhaps the stillness and awareness of breath are the most important parts. The following are visualisations so just close your eyes and pretend you’re doing them.
Standing: Imagine a golden thread running from the top of your head, gently pulling you up towards the sky while also imagining gravity pulling you down – allow your body to hang like a string puppet.
Chewing sticky toffee: Imagine having a piece of toffee in your mouth, using all the muscles in your face (including your eyebrows) and sound effects to show how much you’re enjoying it.
Beach ball: Visualise holding the ball in front of you and feeling the air being blown into it, expanding between your hands, and then allowing it to contract as the air flows out.
Beach ball in the sea: Imagine the beach ball in the sea, feeling the pressure of it lift your hands to about chest height as you breathe in, then feeling the pressure of pressing it back down into the sea as you breathe out.
Flicking tiny balls of paper: Take time to notice how it feels flicking each finger with your thumb. Then do the same as above but pressing each fingertip with your thumb. Notice how your fingers and thumb feel after you do this – are there any sensations?
Taking off your jumper: Have your hands crossed over at the bottom of your imaginary jumper and slowly lift it up and over your head, then place it on the floor and slowly put it back on again. Notice what body parts and muscles you use to do this.
Painting the rainbow: Imagine you have a pot of rainbow paint. Starting on the floor on one side, paint a huge rainbow with both hands going from one side, up and over your head and down to the floor. Then go back the other way, really stretching and making your rainbow as big as possible.
Bowl of spaghetti: Imagine you’re holding a bowl of spaghetti in front of you. Reach forward and pick it up with one hand, passing it around your body to reach the other hand behind you, bringing it back to the front of you and placing it back down on the table – all the time being sure not to spill any.
Giving yourself a hug: Stroke down both arms from the shoulders to the fingertips and then squeeze, giving yourself a big hug.
Chocolate button meditation (3-4 minutes)
The leader of the exercise should read out the following passage to people who each have a packet of chocolate buttons – remember to pause throughout to allow everyone to really experience it.
Consider the wrapped chocolate. Does the wrapper make a sound? What colour is it? What does it say? Where did it come from? Open the chocolate, slowly. Do you feel a sense of anticipation or an urge to immediately put the chocolate in your mouth? What physical sensations do you have? What emotions are you feeling? Just note them. Look at the chocolate. Consider its texture, colour, weight. Smell the chocolate; does the smell trigger any other senses? Where do you feel your sense of smell? Place the chocolate in your mouth but DO NOT EAT! How does it feel as it melts? Where in your mouth can you taste it? What is the consistency? What is happening with your mouth, teeth, tongue and lips as it melts? Move the chocolate around your mouth; does the area of taste change? Does the taste itself change? What is happening to the chocolate? How do you feel? Swallow the chocolate, focusing on the sensation. Is there a lingering taste? How do you feel physically and emotionally? Take a little while to consider the experience.
Draw a tree on a big piece of paper and hang this somewhere you will see it regularly. Cut out leaves for the tree. Think of one thing right now that makes you happy, that you love perhaps, or that you are grateful for. Write this on a leaf and stick it to the tree. Try and do this at least once a day.
Breath awareness – finger tracing
Holding one hand out in front of you, use a finger from your other hand to start at the bottom of the thumb and trace up the thumb, all while inhaling until you get to the top. Then trace down the other side of the thumb while exhaling. Continue tracing up and down all the fingers, inhaling as you trace up the finger, exhaling as you trace down the other side, until you get to the bottom of the little finger. Then go back through the fingers to the thumb where you started, focusing on the breath as you go.
This can be done inside or outside. Try and do this for two to ten minutes (or longer if you want to). Notice how your body walks, which parts of the body move and how it feels. Can you notice ten things you can see, five things you can hear and two things you can smell?
Enjoyed reading Mindfulness with Children and looking to be more mindful yourself? Read our post on mindfulness, positive affirmations and yoga.