The constant wiggling. Bouncing. Darting eyes and fidgety fingers. Sometimes it can be really tough for our little people to just be still. Whether in a formal school environment, sitting at the dinner table, or just learning to control their reactions, teaching children methods of finding a sense of peace and calm is a critical lifelong skill. Here are a few fun ways for kids to cultivate a peaceful, easy feeling. Some start by having children sit tall (keep them still by balancing a stuffed animal on their heads) and possibly closing their eyes.
Pick a Color: Ask children what their favorite color is. Give them a moment to decide. Now instruct them to imagine a little glowing ball of their special color somewhere inside their body. The warm, glowing ball of color can be in their heart. It can be in their belly or in their brain. Instruct them to take a big breath in and as they do, the warm, glowing ball gets bigger and bigger. When they breathe out, the ball stays big and warm. The next breath makes the ball even bigger and brighter. Keep going, and imagine that the light from the ball gets so big, it begins to fill the room with their color. It feels warm and cozy. Stay and breathe for a short time, imagining that glowing light keeps spreading. Then, in one super-long and slow exhale, watch the colored ball shrink down again and settle back into their body.
Hibernate: Stretch out on your belly on the floor, making a pillow with your hands if you’d like. You can rest a stuffed animal on your back. (In a classroom situation, this can also be done with heads down on desks). Pretend to be a bear, sleeping soundly through the winter in your warm, cozy cave. Take a long breath in through your nose and then slowly let it out. Did you feel your belly and chest press into the floor as you took your breath? Try it again. Take another long breath in through your nose and slowly let it out. Just like a hibernating bear, you are cozy and warm and safe. Continue the long breaths as long as you’d like.
Smell the Flower, Blow the Candle: Imagine there is a beautiful flower in front of you. Take a long sniff of the flower through your nose, smelling its lovely fragrance. Exhale through your mouth, like you are gently blowing out a candle. Repeat three times.
Take 5: Hold a fist out in front of you. Count to 5 as you breathe in and open your hand, releasing one finger at a time. Exhale to a count of 5 as you close your fist, one finger at a time. Repeat three times (or more).
Bumblebee Breath: Take a big breath in, plug your ears, and hum like a bee buzzes. Notice how loud your humming sounds! Try again, this time when you finish humming, notice how quiet your mind feels. Repeat once more.
These brief mindfulness practices are quick to learn and easy to practice. And once kids learn how to do them, and more importantly once they realize how calm they feel afterward, they’ll practice them all on their own.
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