Mindfulness for the Family
Ah! Summer… it’s finally here. And it feels so good. Summer has always symbolized “freedom” from schedules for me. But summer can also get very busy, very fast. Summer schedules can sometimes feel crazier than fall schedules! (Hence the big sigh of relief when school starts).
We get so busy with summer camps, vacations, and if you’ve got older kids, then volunteer and work schedules. So, in fact, summer can be a time when families get flustered in trying to accomplish so much, and lose that feeling of freedom we all have during the first days of summer.
Incorporating Mindfulness activities into your summer schedule can add some much needed quiet time and can really ground the day. Kids actually thrive with routine, so if you have small children, from preschool to around 8 years old, try out some these mindfulness games and activities.
To introduce mindfulness skills for children, start with a breathing exercise and guided body scan, and some emotional awareness exercises. Mindfulness games can be played at the park, on the beach, or during a hike. At the end of the day, breathing exercises and guided body scans can be used to calm kids and adults alike, and help with sleep.
Mindfulness games and activities
There are dozens of mindful games and activities that families can do together. The ones you choose will depend on many factors: time of year/weather, amount of time you’ve allocated, size of the family group and ages of the children. A great time to incorporated mindfulness skills is during weekly family meetings; and then slowly adding 10 to 15 minutes each day for an activity or game for younger children and a 5-minute meditation for older kids.
Tell your little ones that doing these poses can help them feel strong, brave, and happy. Then have them try the Superman and Wonder Woman poses:
Stand with feet just wider than the hips, fists clenched, and arms reached out, stretching the body out as long as possible.Stand tall with legs wider than hip width apart and hands or fists on hips.
This one is especially good for kids who are into Spiderman.
To encourage kids to pause and focus their attention on the present, tell them to turn on their “Spidey senses” -- the super-focused senses of smell, sight, hearing, taste, and touch that Spiderman uses to take in the world around him.
The Safari exercise is another fun way to help kids learn mindfulness. This activity turns an average, everyday walk outside into a mindful adventure.
Tell your kids that you will be going on a safari, and their goal is to notice as many birds, bugs, and any other animals as they can. Anything that walks, crawls, swims, or flies is of interest, and they’ll need to focus all of their senses to find them, especially the little ones.
A similar exercise for adults is the mindfulness walk (some more tips for this activity can be found here). This exercise brings out the same response in children that the mindful walk/hike does for adults: a state of awareness and grounding in the present.
Try these quick and fun ideas from the Kids Activities Blog, and adapt them to your particular family size and style.
Blowing bubbles. Have your kids focus on taking in a deep, slow breath, and exhaling steadily to make the bubbles. Encourage them to pay close attention to the bubbles as they form, detach, and pop or float away.
Blowing pinwheels. Use the same tactics from blowing bubbles to encourage mindful attention on the pinwheels.
Playing with balloons. Tell your kids that the aim of this game is to keep the balloon off the ground, but have them move slowly and gently. Tell them to pretend the balloon is very fragile.
Texture bag. Place several small, interestingly shaped or textured objects in a bag, and have each child reach in to touch an object, one at a time, and describe what they are touching. Make sure they don’t take the object out of the bag, using only their sense of touch to explore the object.
Blindfolded taste tests. Use a blindfold for each child and have them experience eating a small food, like a raisin or a cranberry, as if it was their first time eating it.
I wish you a fun-filled peaceful summer!
Family mindfulness training in Vancouver
Want to learn more? Because they learn from everything we say and do, when working with children it is especially important to “practice what we preach.” To find out how you can add mindfulness to your life every day, Contact Shahin at Mindful Changes.
Find out when and where mindfulness classes for kids in the Vancouver area are scheduled.