Admit it. You’ve asked a child to “calm down” or “pay attention” at least once in your lifetime. Maybe you’ve bribed one of your own kids to just sit still for a minute. What you are really asking for (begging for?) is for them to be mindful, to focus on the moment rather than jumping from thought to thought, activity to activity. Mindfulness is a skill that needs to be taught and nurtured. And when kids realize that they are actually in control of their bodies, their minds, their thoughts, and their actions, their self-esteem rockets, they sleep better and have improved academic and social skills. Here are a few Mindful Moment activities you can do with your children. When you practice with your kiddos, you also develop your own sense of calm and power of focus.
Candle Breath: Pretend you are holding a little birthday candle. Take a long breath in through your nose and then slowly blow air out of your mouth toward your candle but don’t blow it out. You can make the flame wiggle and dance, but blow so gently and slowly that you don’t blow out the candle. Repeat a few times. Inhale through your nose and then exhale gently through your mouth without blowing out the candle.
Take 5: When you need a moment to calm down when you are feeling angry or frustrated, you can Take 5! Start with a fist. Breathe in while slowly opening your hand, one finger at a time, thinking to yourself 1…2…3…4…5. Now breathe out (through your nose) slowly, and close your hand one finger at a time, thinking to yourself 1…2…3…4…5. Repeat several times.
Give Love: Think of someone you love and imagine that person is standing right in front of you. Think of something really nice you could say to that person. Now smile and say it to that person in your mind. Now think of someone else, maybe someone you don’t know very well or someone who is feeling sad or hurt. Imagine that person standing in front of you. Smile and, in your mind, say something kind to that person. Now imagine that you are standing in front of you. Think of something nice to say to yourself. Smile and say it quietly in your mind. (This practice is based on the LovingKindess Meditation.)
Energy Clap: Open your arms really wide. Count to three and clap your hands one time. Rub your hands together, making them warm with energy. Now put your warm hands on your belly. Take a big breath in and fill your belly. Exhale it all out with a sound (a sigh, a hiss, whatever sound you like). Open your arms even wider. Count to three and clap again. Rub your hands together and make them warm. Put your hands on your heart. Breathe in and fill your belly and chest. Exhale with a sound. One more time, open your arms really wide, count to three and clap. Rub your palms together and this time place them over your closed eyes. Breathe in and exhale with a sound.
Squeeze it Out: Scrunch your toes tight and squeeze the muscles of your legs to the bone. Make your leg super-strong. Now hug your belly in, make tight fists, and squeeze your arm muscles. Keep getting smaller and squish your face like a raisin. Squeeze your whole body tight and take a big breath in. Now when you exhale, slowly let all those muscles go, like you are an ice cube melting. Inhale again and when you breathe out, keep letting your body get soft. Repeat if you’d like.
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