Allthough we've emerged from lockdown, it's had some lingering effects. (In our house, anyhow.) Those enforced weeks of not dashing around gave us more time to engage our senses and notice the little things: the feel of a favourite jumper, birdsong, a gentle breeze. At KIDLY, we’ve always been big into mindfulness* and we’re equally big believers that kids can be just as mindful as adults: in fact, a growing body of research suggests it helps them with emotional regulation and cognitive focus. There are plenty of mindfulness exercises for kids out there, so we thought we’d put together a handy selection:
A Mindful Meander
This could be round your garden, through the park, or just along a pleasant nearby street, during your permitted daily outdoor exercise. Stop, get them to close their eyes and tell you what they can hear and feel. Could be a bird, could be a delivery truck, could be someone working. The trick is to listen harder than you normally would. It’s amazing what you’ll notice. For a toddler, you might just use a minute of a familiar walk to try to spot something that’s never caught your attention before.
Get Mindfully Messy
Most kids love making slime or play dough - and there are loads of great recipes online. But, instead of impatiently wondering when you can put it away again (or how you’ll ever get the table clean) why not roll your sleeves up and dig in too? Really squish that goo between your fingers. Describe to each other the textures you’re experiencing. How does it smell, sound and look? How does playing with it make you feel? Silly? Yucky? Powerful? Excited?
In Mindful Balance
Another good mindfulness exercise is the ‘body scan’. Get your child to close their eyes and then tell them to bring their attention to their toes (and only their toes) for 15 seconds. (Wiggling is permitted.) Next, to focus on their feet, again, for 15 seconds. Then their legs for 15 seconds, and carry on all the way up their body. For extra concentration, and to hone their sense of balance, try it standing barefoot on the smooth surface of an upturned Bilibo Sensory Toy, or balancing on a Wobbel Board. (Free-to-download Wobbel cards also have fun ideas to improve their physical self-awareness.)
Colour Me Mindful
The simple act of colouring-in can also be amazingly calming and centre-ing for all ages, whether you like to stay studiously in the lines or blithely ignore them! Wee Gallery has a whole host of brilliant free printables and our gorgeously tactile Crayon Rocks are a firm favourite for all budding colouristas.
Make A Mindful Buddy
Get your child to lie on their back with their favourite toy - aka their Breathing Buddy - on their belly. They should focus their attention on the rise and fall of their toy, as they breathe slowly in through their nose, then out through their mouth. Next, get them to close their eyes and think about each breath. You can watch Breathing Buddies tutorials together and if you’d like to make a new Breathing Buddy, our range of Soft Toys has loads of cuddlesome options.
Explore Mindful Reading
The KIDLY Book Club on Facebook has a new theme every month and currently it’s all things mindful. One of our favourite titles, I Am Human: A Book of Mindfulness, has a simple-to-follow narrative and lovely watercolour illustrations, to help kids feel grounded, restored and present. It’s a great book to encourage them to take five and wind down.
We hope you find something useful here. But, as with all things mindful, the main thing is, don’t force it. If your child isn’t interested, leave it for another time. In our uncertain world, it’s a handy opportunity to practice the key mindfulness principle of letting go of expectations. Have fun!
*(Mindfulness: Being observant and accepting of what’s going on with our moods and our bodies and the world around us.)