A while ago I ran a 4-week meditation workshop at a senior center. During our second week together, one of the participants mentioned that she had done our class exercise (three good things) with her grandson. The exciting part was that the next time she saw him, he asked her if “we can do that cool thing again.”
Just like adults, kids are drawn to mindfulness. Once they experience it, they know it feels good in their brains and bodies without reading the scientific evidence behind these practices. But when do they have the chance to experience it? To learn it? To practice it? Who will show them?
I wish I knew how to slow down my thoughts, how to actively grow my self-worth, and how to take care of my mental well-being from a young age. But I didn’t even know such a thing was a thing. And neither did my parents. Nor teachers. Nor friends. That’s why Reset exists. Maybe you already practice meditation, but are not sure how to engage your child or adolescent. Maybe you just started yoga yourself, and want to give your child more options than you had growing up but are not sure how to introduce them to it. We’ve got you.
So what can you do outside of Reset? Here are some recommendations:
Look: As you sit down to dinner, play a mindful eating game with your child. Before eating the food, ask them to look at the food and list all the colors that they see on the plate.
Smell: Next, smell the food together (show them by doing it with them). Let them experience the smell first and then describe the smell to you. What food on their plate can they smell the most? And the least?
Taste: Next, ask take a bite and feel the texture of the food. Ask them what texture they feel, and share with them what texture you feel.
Invite your child to play a mindful listening game. Let them sit down, lay down or stand up - there is no wrong position to be in, whatever is most comfortable for them. Ask them to close their eyes and take a deep breath in through their nose and out through their mouth (it’s important that you demonstrate this so breath in and out together with them).
Option 1: Get a bell or pull up a bell sound on your phone (ringtones usually have one or you can download an app). Ask your child to keep their eyes closed and listen for a bell sound. When they hear the sound, they should raise their hand. It’s okay if they raise them fast, slow, excitedly or not. Meditation is flexibility. Most people imagine “zen” so when their child doesn’t act zen, it feels like it’s not working. It is. The point is that the child is focusing their attention on the sound. Not if they are sitting in perfect pose with a “zen” expression on their face.
Option 2: Ask the child to listen to the surroundings sounds and count how many they hear. You do the same and compare the number of sounds you both got in the end. Set a timer for 30 seconds, 1 minute, or 1.5 minutes or longer (all depending on your child and that day. Go easy on yourself and your child.)
Ahh breath. A major tool. And learning how to check into it from an early age can be a game changer. Slowing the breath can help slow down an overactive brain.
Option 1: Ask your child to breathe in for 3 or 4 counts (depending on age and ability) through their nose. And breathe out for 4 or 5 counts. The idea is that they breath out for a little longer than they breathe in. Repeat 3-5 times. Ask them where they feel their breath - their nose, throat, chest, belly?
Option 2: Sit down with your child, let them place a palm or two palms on your belly. Ask them to try to match your breathing, then you do belly breaths in for a slow 3 counts, and breathe out for 4 counts. Repeat 3-5 times.
Singing is such a wonderful way to bring inner peace. Ask your child to sing together with you and combine touch to this mindful exercise. With each syllable you sing, touch a different finger to your thumb (ask your child to do the same). You can sing notes - “Do, Re, Mi, Fa”. Or affirmations - “I am strong and beautiful”.
Hope these fun ways of engaging brings more inner calm to your dinner table, play room, nap time, and every other part of your child’s daily life.
Till next time.
Anna is a blog contributor, meditation leader and teacher, and photographer. You can follow her on Instagram @skillsforwellness and find her blogging away at reset brain + body. reset brain + body is a mental wellness practice where traditional talk therapy is elevated through the integration of meditation, nutrition, yoga and mindfulness. Connect with reset brain + body on Instagram & Facebook, check out the class schedule, or contact us to book an appointment.