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Why is everyone talking about mindfulness? Mindfulness is quickly becoming a popular activity to help children manage feelings of stress and anxiety. Have you tried it?

What is mindfulness?

The idea of being mindful is to be present and to focus on where you are and what you’re doing. You and your kiddos can practice mindfulness by sitting in a relaxed setting while thinking about your breathing and what you’re feeling from each of your senses.

How does mindfulness help?

Mindfulness allows kids to take a break and focus on a particular sense without becoming overwhelmed. Most research on mindfulness focuses on adults, but some studies have shown that when children practice mindfulness, it can be connected to a positive state of mind. Kids are able to feel joy from feeling that they are in control. In addition, teaching kids to be mindful can help them:

  • Manage anxiety
  • Improve executive function skills
  • Focus their attention
  • Develop emotional control, a main area of executive function

How can kids practice mindfulness?

Mindfulness can be done to take a break from homework, before bed, or if a child is feeling particularly stressed or anxious. Help kids practice mindfulness using these tips:

  • Focus on the senses. Basic mindfulness centers around breathing, but kids can also focus on their senses. They can focus on the smell of an orange peel or the flowers outside. Kids could also focus on listening by focusing on a fan rotating, birds chirping, or other noises they’re hearing.
  • Walk it out! Taking a walk after school or in the evenings can be a way to incorporate mindfulness in your everyday routine. Plus, it’s a great excuse for some physical activity! Kids can focus on the sounds, sights, and smells of walking outdoors.
  • Make mindfulness a family activity. Pick a time of day to talk as a family about how they felt during the day or what they did to become more mindful. Make this discussion a regular part of family dinner and add it to the bedtime routine. You could even decide on an area of the house to relax and talk.

When can my child start practicing mindfulness?

There is no right or wrong time to start. One study has shown benefits of mindfulness in children as early as preschool. If your child is having an off day and can’t seem to sit still, don’t force it. Try again another day or when they’re a little bit older. You know your child best, and practicing mindfulness should not be an added stress for your family.

Remember, the goal of mindfulness is to improve awareness of experiences, thoughts, and feelings and help your kiddos relax when they begin to feel overwhelmed. If you are new to mindfulness and would prefer guided activities, there are many free apps available to help you and your family.