Mindfulness is often an important part of finding peace and perspective for parents, but it can also help children be fully present in their own lives. The concept may not be the easiest to explain to a young child, but the right mindfulness activities for kids can help them understand what the practice looks like in action.
Help your child meditate and find their own way of focusing inward with these activities.
Activities for Practicing Mindfulness With Your Child
If your child is younger or still learning what mindfulness means, you may want to choose activities that invite you into the experience as well. These activities don't have to take up much time and you can easily fit them into your schedule for daily mindfulness.
Walk Quietly Together
You may already be practicing mindfulness with a daily or nightly walk, so this is a wonderful opportunity to show your child what the experience is like. Start off with short walks and a challenge to walk quietly for as long as possible. Encourage your child to engage their five senses as they stroll and take note of what they feel and think.
- Encourage your child to take in the colors, textures, and movement of nature.
- Remind them to note the feeling of the ground moving beneath their feet with each step.
- Help them identify scents or sounds as you go.
- Challenge your child to note the way the wind, temperature, and air make their body and mind feel.
If you cherish your own daily walks alone, don't feel you have to invite your child into each one. Choose one or two days where you can enjoy the activity together and reserve the rest for your own mindfulness practice.
Make a Gratitude Journal Together
Mindful journaling is a wonderful tool for practicing mindfulness each day. If your child is a bit younger, this task may require quite a bit of assistance from you, and that's okay.
Let them help choose a journal they love and show them how you use your own to encourage an interest in the practice. Set aside a time each day to journal together. Remember, you don't have to spend a lot of time here. A few minutes a day is a great start.
When you finally sit down to journal together, give your child prompts like "What did you love experiencing today?" or "Was there a moment today that made you smile?" Then help them write down their answer as an expression of gratitude.
Help Them Move Their Body Mindfully
If you've practiced mindfulness through exercise, you know how renewing the activity can be. For children, moving their bodies is a wonderful way to release energy and help them focus inward. For kids (and for adults), expressive and joyful movement is just as important as restful and restorative movement. Here are a few ways you can practice mindful exercise together.
- Show your child some simple stretches that help them focus on the wonderful things their body can do.
- Ride bikes together and encourage them to notice how the movement of each pedal propels them forward.
- Have a dance break together and move around free-style, paying close attention to the movements that feel best.
- Play a guided meditation or mindful stretching video and practice the steps together.
After each session of movement, prompt your child to stop and place their hand over their heart. Help them take note of how they feel and what their heart is doing after all that movement.
Let Kids Help With the Gardening
Gardening is a relaxing and creative way to practice mindfulness and you can invite your child into the activity. They might love getting their hands dirty, but you'll love how gardening helps them connect with their senses and disconnect from screen time and other things demanding their attention.
- Encourage deep, slow breathing while you're outside.
- Point out engaging textures like dirt, petals, leaves, and rocks.
- Take time to literally stop and smell the roses (as well as other plants and flowers).
- Sit together on the grass and practice grounding.
- Slip off your shoes and gloves and feel the terrain against your skin.
- Encourage gentle handling of plants and expressions of gratitude for the beauty of nature.
- Ask your child how they feel about certain plants or what they see in the dirt.
- Go through gardening motions slowly, taking time to be present in activities like digging, planting, and watering.
- Make a sensory garden together so you can return to your mindfulness time and time again.
Puzzles can help anyone slow down and focus on their thoughts. Show your child how working on a puzzle can help their mind focus inward and keep their hands busy while they reflect on their thoughts. You can start with smaller puzzles for younger children and work your way up to puzzles that take more time to encourage consistently returning to the practice.
Activities for Helping Your Child Practice Mindfulness Independently
Once your child is older or has a better understanding of how to practice mindfulness, you can encourage an independent approach to the concept. Give them a little space and a place to practice on their own with these simple activities.
Make a Playlist for Their Quiet Time
Music can play an important role in a mindfulness practice and it can be a tool for practicing at any point in the day. You can make a mindful playlist for your child or encourage them to make their own. You'll know when you hear those familiar tunes that they are seeking some peace and intentionality in the moment.
Give Them Quiet Coloring Time
Coloring, like puzzling, helps you slow down and focus on your thoughts. It's a great way to lift the focus from your environment and place it on the simple motions of your hands. Set up a space for quiet coloring with books, markers, pencils, and plenty of space to encourage creativity.
Coloring isn't just for little kids. If your child is older, an adult coloring book with more details and abstract pictures might be interesting. They might also choose watercolors or sketching instead.
Prepare a Mindful Eating Snack
Mindful eating is a big part of the entire concept and it inspires an approach to your daily routine that helps you be present and practice gratitude. You can prepare a snack for your child that encourages a mindful eating practice.
- Make a mini charcuterie board featuring some of their favorite flavors to enjoy.
- Offer a deconstructed sandwich plate so your child can put everything together on their own and enjoy the process.
- Give some nutritional information about the snack you provide and how it nourishes their body.
- Let them help you prepare the food for this particular meal or snack.
- Encourage your child to take note of the colors, texture, smell, and taste of each thing on their plate.
- Designate a snack spot — maybe by a window or at the table — and make the environment as welcoming as possible.
- Offer new foods often and encourage your child to dwell on the details of that new flavor.
- Give your child some space during this time to be present and reflect as they eat.
Create a Meditation Space in Their Room
Having a designated space for meditation is helpful for any mindfulness practice. Let your child help you create a serene and safe place of their own to engage with their practice. Help them lean into colors, lighting, textures, and other details that invite them to slow down and be present in that space.
Try One-Minute Mindfulness Activities
When you're still familiarizing your child with mindfulness and showing them how to practice the concept throughout their day, you might want to lean on some simple one-minute mindfulness activities. These activities help your child pause in any given moment and practice a little mindfulness regardless of what's going on around them.
- Mindful Breathing: Teach them to stop in a tense or joyful moment for just one minute. As they breathe in, encourage them to acknowledge how they feel. As they breathe out, they can release any stress or overwhelm or celebrate gratitude and joy.
- Evaluating a Space: When your child enters a new space or one they are unfamiliar with, help them note how the space impacts all five senses.
- Counting Gratitudes: For one solid minute, they can mentally list things they are grateful for. They can list everything from feelings to physical things they can see to help them pause in the midst of a tough moment.
- Spend Time in Your Happy Place: Help your child mentally construct their happy place and return to it as often as they like for a one-minute visit to be present and intentional.
Make Mindfulness Fun & Easy
Whatever activity you choose, the goal is to make mindfulness an accessible practice for your child. These simple approaches will help them engage in being present, practicing gratitude, and focusing inward so they can continue to be mindful as they grow.
Remember, everyone's approach is different. What matters most is that you're teaching your child a practice that will help in daily life as they inch ever closer to adulthood.