Let’s face it: Whether you’re 5 or 50, being cooped up in the house can do strange things to your brain. It’s natural to feel a little edgier than usual, but the good news is that you can flip the script by choosing to respond to the current circumstances instead of reacting.
The secret? A little thing called “mindfulness.” Leading our families from a place of mindfulness can make all the difference in finding the silver linings in these times of uncertainty. The extra time at home can even be viewed as a golden opportunity to slow down and teach kids this lifelong skill to help them feel more calm, focused and centered amidst the chaos.
Below, check out some fun, simple ideas to help kids of all ages reap the benefits of mindfulness!
This practice couldn’t be easier, yet it’s an incredibly effective way to help children connect to the power of their breath. Here’s how it works: Tell your child to breathe in and trace the outside of their pinky with a finger on their opposite hand. Then, breathe out and trace the inside of the pinky. Continue with all ten fingers!
The Longest OM
Ever felt the stress just dissipate out of your body after a collective “OM” in yoga? Introduce your kids to how good it feels to let it all out! Kids thrive on a little friendly competition, so get them excited with a “longest OM” competition.
Yoga Freeze Tag
Just like adults, kids enjoy tons of physical, emotional and mental benefits from yoga. Getting them engaged just requires a little creativity…which is where Yoga Freeze Tag comes in! The rules are simple: If you get tagged, take a downward-facing dog. To get unfrozen, another player has to do cat-cow pose underneath you. Feel free to use your imagination and switch up these poses to keep it fresh!
Get Into Character
Looking for another fun way to introduce the kids to yoga? Animate each asana! Hiss in cat pose; moo your heart out in cow; stick out your tongue in lizard. Let out your best warrior cry in the warrior poses. You get the picture!
Food is an irresistible way to introduce the concept of mindfulness…what kid doesn’t love snacks? Place a blindfold over your child’s eyes, and then present them with a variety of small nibbles (fruit, cheese, nuts, etc.). Ask your child to give three descriptive words for each, or to guess what each food is. In addition to helping kids deliberately focus their attention, this practice can also make healthy snacking fun!
Make a Gratitude Jar
This activity can help your family find the silver linings that exist, even when the world seems turned upside down. Decorate a Mason jar and challenge your kids to come up with as many things as they can to be grateful for. A gratitude jar is a visual reminder of all the miracles both big and small in our lives, so let your kids know that nothing is too ‘insignificant’ to be included!
Tuning in to the five senses is a wonderful way to evoke a mindful state. Make it entertaining with a twist on the classic game “I Spy.” Encourage your kids to “spy” what they hear, smell, see, feel and taste…leave no stone unturned!
The goal here is to to again tap into the five senses to drop into the present. Kids are actually naturals at this already…so you may want to join in and follow their cues! See how long you can explore the familiar territory of your yard in silence. Take your sweet time as a family: Touch plants, smell flowers, gaze at the birds, pick up rocks, and feel the grass beneath your feet. You may be amazed by just how much you discover! When you return inside, break your vow of silence and share your adventures, or maybe even bring a souvenir or two to add a touch of nature to your home decor.
Remember, the best way to teach kids about mindfulness is to be a good role model, so make sure to take care of yourself during this time, too. Stay safe and healthy, everyone!