Mindfulness is the practice of being deeply conscious and aware in the present moment. It was previously believed to be too abstract and complex for children to understand. However, an emerging body of literature affirms that children as young as four can grasp the core aspects of mindfulness with developmentally appropriate exercises.* Establishing consistent opportunities of mindfulness can beneficially impact their emotional regulation, cognitive attention, and relationship building capacities.* Listed below are some exercises for young children and adolescents.
Mindful Exercises for Young Children:
- Mindful Movement – there are many capacities in which movement creates mindfulness. From a series of poses to a simple walk in the surrounding neighbourhood, movement can provide a deeply grounding experience for children to observe the world with a fresh pair of pausing eyes.
- Mindful Jars – this activity creates an opportunity to learn more about emotional regulation and delve deeper into dialogue surrounding strong emotions like stress and anger. It involves a jar, glitter and water which represent our physical vessel, emotions and clarity respectively. When the glitter is in suspension, the clarity of the jar becomes obscured and when given time to settle, the water regains optimal clarity. This exercise can be used to create conversation surrounding emotional regulation with your child or children.
Mindful Exercises for Adolescents:
- Mindful Breathing – there are guided breathing exercises available through various mediums and applications. Technology can beneficially impact breathing awareness and frequent engagement in practice.
- Mindful Art – poetry can be a powerful tool to communicate and process strong emotions. This medium can be expressed through creative realms like painting, dancing, knitting, and so forth.
Our children’s schedules are often packed to the brim between school, extracurriculars and social engagements. It is important to create open dialogues around emotional regulation and provide them with tools, like mindfulness, to function optimally!