We live in a world that is plagued by constant stimulation and it causes us to act in ways that probably even surprise us at times. As adults, we can get easily agitated, angrier, and overwhelmed when we don’t intentionally focus on shutting our brains off. So, imagine how our kids feel if we don’t provide them with the tools to do the same thing? When children are overstimulated, they can also act out in ways that seem like behavior problems but in reality, it could be they are overstimulated and don’t know what to do about it.
Providing our children with tools that will empower them to disengage from overactive brain stimuli is beneficial not only during their childhood but will carry over into their adulthood as well. Mindfulness is a beneficial tool that children can learn as early as 4 and 5 years old. Below are some activities that you can do with your children to teach mindfulness.
- Guess the Objects. Put on some meditation music; something soft and soothing or even the sounds of the ocean. Get five small objects and don’t show them to your child. Have your child close his or her eyes and place an object in his or her hands, one at a time. With his or her eyes close, have him/her tell you what he/she think the item is.
- Ring a Bell. Have your child close his or her eyes and take 4 or 5 deep breaths. On the last breath, get a bell and ring the bell. Instruct your child to raise his or her hand when they no longer hear the bell.
- Smell it and Tell it. Get some essential oils, fresh lemon and oranges and some potpourri. Let your child smell each scent (eyes closed), one at a time, and try to guess the scent.
- Belly Mover. Have your child lay down with soft music playing. Instruct him or her to breathe in and out. Get a small object (perhaps a stuffed animal) and place it on his or her belly. Tell him or her to try and move the object with each deep breath.
- Music Tapper. Tap a simple song, like Mary Had a Little Lamb. With his or her eyes clothes either have him/her repeat your tapping sequence or guess the song.
All of the above are simple ways to get small children to be mindful. Don’t try to force them to do it for long periods of time. You will probably only get them to practice mindfulness for 5 minutes or less, at a time, and that’s okay. The idea is to introduce them to mindfulness for shorter periods of time and be their guide as they learn how to tune into the moment and turn off outside stimuli.