What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness often involves breathing exercises, guided imagery and other forms of meditation to reduce stress and relax the mind and body. When someone is mindful, they are very aware of feelings in the moment. Mindfulness is more of a state of mind.
Mindfulness is being present in the moment and conscious of your senses. When practicing mindfulness, there is no specific level of calm or clarity you must reach; the objective is simply to be more in touch with what is happening around you.
“The basic root of happiness lies in our minds; outer circumstances are nothing more than adverse or favorable.”Matthieu Ricard
Benefits of Mindfulness
Children who practice mindfulness gain an understanding of stress management, emotion regulation, concentration, and an optimistic outlook on life. These skills are beneficial in social and emotional situations.
“Teaching mindfulness to kids can also help shape three critical skills developed in early childhood: paying attention and remembering information, shifting back and forth between tasks, and behaving appropriately with others. These abilities are known as executive functions and they are essential for more advanced tasks like planning, reasoning, problem-solving, and positive social relationships.”Mindful
Affirmations are forms of emotional encouragement and support. When someone is feeling down, kind words can be such an uplifting thing. Imagine if those kind words were something we repeated to ourselves daily.
Practicing mindful affirmations can help children cope in a healthy way through challenging situations they encounter. Stress effects each one of us differently, but knowing how to manage stress in a healthy way can allow your child to focus on their academics or have confidence to try out for the sports team they are interested in.
We recently received these affirmation cards from Bloom & Bliss and they are beautiful. These are the perfect gift for small children, uplifting words that fill them with conviction and a positive outlook. When asked what three things my daughter is, she will respond with I am safe, loved and comfortable.
Recently Lily was having big feelings and struggling to calm down. My husband pulled out these cards and they read them aloud together. After reading through them, Lily had calmed and was beaming with smiles.
The moment Lily shared with her father gave me the idea to set up a mindfulness area. I included a basket of positive books, affirmation cards, and independent play loose parts.
How Do We Handle Behavior
- Get outside
- Sensory/Messy Play
- Quiet Activities
Changing scenery and getting in movement is a great reset for us. Our daily rhythm includes a morning nature walk. Time outdoors enables creative play, freedom to explore and independence. As a child, so much of their lives are planned for them, but time outside and free play are their moments.
“Children cannot bounce off the walls if we take away the walls.”Erin K. Kenny
Sensory activities have a way of captivating my children. The focus and exploration of textures allows them to organically slow their breathing and clear their mind. Although it does not always feel like the best option to introduce messy play when a child is experiencing big feelings and struggling to listen, more than likely it will be exactly what that child needs to calm down.
Sensory play is also said to build nerve connections to the brain, strengthen motor skills, support language development and encourage problem solving.
My daughter needs time to herself when she is processing her emotions, and she will ask for the alone time. Grapat mandalas are a perfect activity for her to independently play with while having her alone time. When she is ready, I am always willing to talk and encourage her to express how she was feeling.
Reading is another quiet activity that helps us transition away from challenges. Reading allows us the opportunity to slow our breathing and focus on a story. This is also a moment that we can connect and I can show my continued love and support even through difficult times.
Book Suggestions For Mindful Kids
- The Not-So-Perfect Princess and Not-So-Dreadful Dragon
- Talking About Feelings
- Dear Girl
- Breathe Like A Bear
- I Like Myself
- You Belong Here
- Her Body Can
Free Activity Printables
To be mindful, having a strong foundation on emotions is important. Below are a few activities that invite children to explore their feelings and express themselves.
A bit of reality. Motherhood is challenging, it can be isolating, repetitive, and thankless but at other times it can be the biggest source of joy, purpose and perspective.
Especially since becoming a mom of two, I feel pulled in different directions often. I am more aware of my independent seeking, curious children. At times I find myself tense in my jawline from holding in frustration and attempting to remain calm while working through my children’s feelings.
Over time, I found myself feeling more on edge and I began to practice mindfulness. The difference I experience after practicing is hard to describe. A simple task of focusing on deep cleansing breaths can recenter me so quickly. In the evening, once the children are in bed, I have found a guided meditation can be calming and refreshing. Once the meditation ends, there is a feeling of weight being lifted from my chest.
As parents we take on a lot of responsibility and it is important we take care of ourselves. I am the pot calling the kettle black here, but mindfulness is a small and simple exercise I can incorporate that truly is self care.
The series of photos above are all from the same day. The reality is, setting up sensory play is not always picture perfect. The activity pictured above was one of those situations.
We were making Nature Soup and I was thinking I might add a drop of green liquid watercolor to the water. I left the bottle of liquid watercolor on the table the the tray of ice cubes and went to grab the bin of water. In the time it took me to turn off the water and bring the bin over, my four year old had emptied an entire bottle of green liquid watercolor on our ice cube tray. It was a giant mess.
I took time to recenter myself as I cleaned the mess and the kids went on to complete their sensory activity. It ended up being a great day and a really fun activity that I highly recommend.
My goal for my children is for them to have a wholesome childhood. By definition, wholesome is conducive to or promoting moral well-being. I strive to provide this to them by incorporating mindful activities, supporting emotional development, and outdoor time. We focus on slower living, having an appreciation for all life, finding our inner happiness, and building a strong sense of self.