Mindfulness for Children


Part of our Raising Resilient Kids series

There’s a good chance you’ve encountered the term mindfulness at some point. What’s all the buzz –  and how can it help kids in particular to find a sense of calm and build resilience? More important, how can you cultivate mindfulness in your family?

What Is Mindfulness and How Is It Beneficial to Kids?

Mindfulness is the state of being conscious or aware of something. You can achieve mindfulness by focusing on the present moment rather than let your mind wander to the future or past. The practice of mindfulness is scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety, regulate emotions, and reduce racing thoughts. Just like adults, children can equally benefit from practicing mindfulness, which can help them cope with their unique stresses and build resilience from the earliest ages.

It seems like a simple concept, but in our fast-paced world, it’s pretty easy to go about our day without finding time to be mindful or present. So how can we help the kids in our lives practice this skill?  By explaining mindfulness in a way they’ll understand.

Teaching Mindfulness to Kids

Here’s an example to get you started:

Mindfulness is paying attention to what is happening right now. It’s just looking at and listening to what you are experiencing in a moment.

To encourage your kiddos to cultivate this skill, practice right alongside them. In turn, practicing mindfulness with kids helps us hold ourselves accountable! Try these exercises:

  • Count Breaths. Encourage kids to close their eyes, take long, slow breaths – in through the nose… and out through the mouth. Next, count silently for a few moments (“one” for each inhale and “two” each exhale). Explain that it’s normal for our minds to wander – just re-focus on counting when this happens. Mindful breathing is a great tool to help children calm down so you can focus on the root of the problem together.

  • Keep a journal. Don’t set rules around what kids should write. Instead, encourage them to share what they recall about their day or draw a picture of how they are feeling. 

  • Do a guided meditation together using a free online resources. There are several apps for your phone and free videos on YouTube to choose from. Here are a few to get you started: Mind Yeti, an online meditation specifically for kids; Headspace; Calm; Stop, Breathe & Think; and Smiling Mind.

  • Be on the lookout for mindful opportunities. Find ways for your kids to be mindful during their everyday activities – as they brush their teeth or get dressed, while walking, or eating a meal, for example. Remind them to notice when their thoughts slip elsewhere, and guide them back to the activity.

  • Focus on the senses. Ask kids to consider what they see, hear, smell, and feel. Whether it’s smelling freshly baked bread, a fragrant flower or plant, or enjoying the first bite of a meal or a deep inhalation of a hot cocoa, encourage kids stop and enjoy it. Lead by example and share your own observations.

Resilience Activities for Kids

For more ways to help your kids understand their feelings, use our helpful downloads!

Glitter Jar Activity
Feelings Flashcards

Enjoying These Tips? Get More Ideas by Checking Out the Other Blogs in Our Raising Resilient Kids Series

Help with Basic Needs

Focusing on mindfulness is difficult if you are worried about things like housing, food bills, childcare, or medical issues and expenses. The good news is, there are resources available to help you! By submitting a confidential form through Community Connections, you’ll receive the support of a dedicated team member to help you get the resources you need. Their one-on-one support is completely confidential.

If you’re not needing or wanting to work with someone one-on-one, Michigan 211 might be a better fit. By dialing 2-1-1 (or texting your zip code to 898211) you’ll be connected to local resources.

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