What about mindfulness?
What does it mean to be mindful?
Being mindful means you are aware of your senses and your experience of them. You are there, being in the moment, without judgement. Simple as that!
Doesn't it take a lot of time? Nope!
Mindfulness does not have to be a big, formal change in your routine. Some people picture mindfulness as a long meditation session and dismiss it, thinking, "I don't have time for that!" But there are many ways to incorporate mindful practices into your every day life with little to no disruption of your normal schedule.
But isn't mindfulness just for anxious people?? Nope!
Mindful practices have been shown to help with emotional regulation, decrease anxiety, improved decision-making, improve self-control, self-esteem, and communication. The benefits are endless! When we give kids the tools to slow down and notice and connect with what is happening in the moment, they have more choices on how to react to the situation.
Below are some options for mindfulness practices with your family.
Breathing exercises are endless with mindfulness. A simple one is square breathing. An example is shown in the video to the left. As you trace around each side of the square, you breathe in and out. YOU are in control of your breathing.
A modified version has students trace around their fingers. Inhale as you trace up your finger, exhale as you go down the other side of it.
I also have students "belly breathe" with me when they are agitated or anxious. We put our hands on our tummies, inhale through our nose, and make our bellies as BIG as possible. As we do so we take a second to notice how it feels when we do that (Did our hands rise when we inhaled?). Then we exhale and push that air quickly out through as our mouths, again paying attention to how it felt when we did that (Did our hands go back down)? We are just drawing attention to how we feel in that moment; simple noticings.
Calm Down Jar
Calm Down jars are a simple and useful craft to make with your learner! These are great for use when feeling stressed or angry. Simple shake up the glitter and watch as the glitter settles. Pay attention to your breathing. There are many recipes on the internet for calm down jars, but these are the basic materials you will need for this project.
- Clean Voss Plastic Bottle (my preferred bottle) or a mason jar
- Hot water
- Food Coloring
- Fine Glitter
- Glitter glue (helps the glitter stay in motion longer)
** I recommend hot gluing or super-gluing the lids on your finished jar
Yoga & Guided Visualizations
Yoga is a great way to introduce mindfulness in a more active and engaging way. Yoga aligns the body and mind, helps develop coordination and balance, improves concentration, and promotes a healthy body.
One of my favorite YouTube channels is Cosmic Kids. There are videos for yoga adventures and audio relaxations specially made for kids. Get those kids up and moving with some yoga adventures!
Affirmations pair well with breathing exercises and are a simple addition to your daily routine. Affirmations are a type of positive self-talk which can help children develop positive and confident mindsets. We talked in our classroom lessons this year about the power of self-talk: what we say to ourselves matter because our brain believes what we tell it! This is a powerful tool that is totally in our control!
An easy way to practice affirmations are to have your child look in the mirror and speak them to themselves. It can feel silly at first, but it becomes a powerful tool to have that connection and hear that in their own voice. Other people like to write affirmations down. Find what works best for you and your child.
These are examples of some affirmations to get you started:
- I am enough.
- I get better every single day.
- All of my problems have solutions.
- Today I am a leader.
- I forgive myself for my mistakes.
- My challenges help me grow.
- I am perfect just the way I am.
- Today is going to be a great day.
- I have courage.
- I have people who love and respect me.
- I stand up for what I believe in.
- It’s okay not to know everything.
- I can do better next time.
- I am capable of so much.
- I believe in myself.
- I am proud of myself.
- I deserve to be happy.
- I deserve to be loved.
- I can make a difference.
- I am important.
- I am loved and am loveable.
- I am brave.