What else can you feel—just by noticing?
And as the sun shines on the wind, we feel our body breathing. Can you feel your belly moving up and down? Can you feel the air flowing in and out of your beautiful body? And with the sun up high in the sky, brightening and warming the whole world, you too can warm the world—with your kindness! Think of someone who can use a little kindness—like your sister or brother, or a friend, or your teacher.
And as you smile like the sun, feel your body sitting tall like a tree and feel your breath blowing like the wind. Explore this mindfulness practice that parents and kids can do together—offering good wishes and compassion to others.
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Read More. Two new studies from Yale, Harvard and MIT found that mindfulness may help improve mental health and academic performance in middle schoolers. It is the foundation of many other exercises. To help kids learn how to engage in mindful breathing, you can use a video like the one below:.
- For now, there are five themes for kids to explore:?
- The Evening and the Morning.
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- Memories of Christmas.
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This video guides children through a breathing meditation by instructing them to imagine a sailboat that rises and falls as they breathe; with each inhale and exhale, the boat moves gently on top of the water. They also get an opportunity to visualize their breath with a color and focus on the experience of their breath moving through their nostrils.
Lastly, the video ends with the exercise of the children imagining with their eyes closed that they used to be a fish and paying attention to how it would feel to breathe through their lungs for the first time. This simple exercise gets kids to be more aware of their bodies and helps them find a way to be present in the moment. To begin, tell your kids to jump up and down in place or do jumping jacks for one minute. When they have finished, have them sit down and put a hand over their heart. Instruct them to close their eyes and pay attention only to their heartbeat and, perhaps, their breath as well Roman, This exercise teaches children to notice their heartbeat, and use it as a tool to help their focus.
These skills will come in handy as they start engaging in more advanced mindfulness activities. You might be thinking that these tips and exercises are great for elementary or middle school students, but less realistic for young children. This section focuses on children who are toddlers through kindergarten graduates. One mother explained laid out her five strategies for teaching young children mindfulness—starting with her three-year-old child learning mindfulness.
Noticing the breath : this involves simply paying attention to what breathing actually feels like. Five-finger starfish meditation : this breathing technique has kids holding up one hand in a starfish position fingers spread wide while they gently trace up and down each finger with the other hand, focusing on regular breathing at the same time. Counting the breath : this technique is what it sounds like: have your children pause and count their breaths. Guide your kids every step of the way, but make sure you are taking those steps yourself as well.
Childhood and adolescence are important developmental stages that will construct the groundwork for mental health in the adult developmental stage. Executive function is a set of mental skills that constitutes attention, switching focus, planning, organizing and remembering details. Research in education suggests that mindfulness practice can lead to improvements in executive function in children. For instance, in the study of Flook et al. In another study, students who had a week of mindfulness training scored higher in attentional measures in their elementary school Napoli et al.
Additionally, a study on preschoolers emphasized that children who went through a mindfulness curriculum for 12 weeks earned higher marks on academic performance measures.
4 Exercises to Teach Your Kids about Mindfulness and Compassion | The Chopra Center
They also showed greater improvements in areas that predict future success Flook et al. Deficits and excesses in social behavior can affect learning, understanding, and classroom climate. Recent research on lower-income and ethnic minority elementary school children highlighted how a 5-week mindfulness curriculum can lead to better participation in activities, as well as nurture a classroom culture of mutual respect and care in 9th-grade students Black et al.
Emotional health, which is a positive sense of well-being, is an important component of child and adolescent development. Mindfulness practice may facilitate the ability to manage stress, and also lead to deeper well-being in students. According to one study by Schonert-Reichl and his colleagues , mindfulness practice leads to higher scores on self-report measures of optimism and positive emotions in elementary school students.
Moreover, in a study conducted by Wall , self-reported findings showed preteens feeling calmer, with an enhanced experience of well-being—and improved sleep—after a 5-week modified mindfulness-based stress reduction program.
7 Ways to Practice Mindfulness with Young Children
These four videos can help students open their minds to the benefits of mindfulness. We recommend pairing any of these segments with a discussion. Research confirms that mindfulness can improve mental health by aiding well-being, attention, self-regulation , and social competency. It just needs to be practiced—and encouraged.
Mindfulness-based programs in schools can have a life-long impact on the psychological, social, and cognitive well-being of children and teens. Even at home or with clients, how can you incorporate mindfulness into your teachings and own schedule? Do you have kids or work with kids on a regular basis? Try these tips and activities out, and let us know how they worked in the comments section below.
Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. Was this article useful to you? No Yes Share this article:.
Courtney Ackerman , MSc. She is currently working as a researcher for the State of California and her professional interests include survey research, well-being in the workplace, and compassion. Post more! Seriously, I am really digging what you have written so far. Thank you, Amy! Easy to read, concise, informative.
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You are gifted and I really appreciate you taking the time to research, write and share. May your generosity come back to you tenfold. Such an easy, FREE way to help students and educators…just breathe! When we learn to focus on just one thing, like taste, sound or our own breath, our mind calms down and grows stronger. Refined concentration skills, in turn, translate to improved performance. It helps children do better in sports, school or arts, and it will help them score higher on tests. When children practice focusing skills, they become aware of what their minds are really up to.
Mindfulness practice helps children deal with tough emotions and even improves impulse control.
It replaces impulsive reactions with thoughtful responses. Without mindfulness we tend to be reactive, whereas with mindfulness we can respond in a balanced, rational way. Ultimately children can learn to steady themselves under sympathetic arousal to access cognitive skills. Mindfulness gives children the tools to focus their minds, calm down and reflect on a situation when they need to make a choice.