“Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.” – Sonia Ricotti
With the summer holidays in full swing it’s time for kids to relax, have fun and unwind after a busy school year. Whether you’re experiencing the record breaking heatwave in the UK, or travelling further afield, many kids go through moments of boredom, frustration or even anxiety during the holidays. This is where mindfulness can help.
Mindfulness is described by Jon Kabat-Zinn as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” Beneficial for children and adults alike, mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety, increase cognitive flexibility, improve focus, boost working memory and enhance a better quality of life.
Here are five simple ways to help children become more mindful during the summer holidays and beyond.
1. Be Present 🌸
Being present can have a very grounding and calming effect on children. Psychologists at PRB say “being fully present means having your focus, your attention, your thoughts and feelings all fixed on the task at hand.”
Practice being present with your child by going for a relaxed ‘mindful walk’ along the beach or to a local vicinity, and get them to pay attention in a non-judgmental way. What can they see, smell and hear whilst out walking? How do their feet feel as they take each mindful step? What sensations can they feel in their body? This can be adapted for mindful eating, playing with toys or any other activity.
Remember, if your child’s mind drifts off or they find it tricky to be present during activities, ask them to just focus on their breathing, then over time, gradually reintroduce the activities.
2. Be Grateful 🌸
By noticing the things children feel grateful for, it can help achieve a sense of inner peace; connect with positive emotions; and encourages compassion and kindness.
Keep a holiday diary with your child and get them to regularly write, draw pictures or stick in photos of summer events. Each time your child fills in the holiday diary with activities, reflect on the things they feel grateful for doing that day. It can be as simple as: “I am thankful because I made a new friend today.” This will put things into perspective because your child will begin to feel and appreciate more things from within.
3. Be a Yogi 🌸
Yoga is a combination of mindfulness and awareness of the whole body. Yoga promotes a healthy way of living, compassion, inner strength, self-awareness, flexibility and a peaceful mindset.
This ancient practice shows kids how to meditate, consciously breathe, stretch their bodies, move into postures and ultimately relax into themselves. There are some lovely yoga videos for kids online including storytelling yoga with Cosmic Kids and ‘Every Little Cell’ from Kidding Around Yoga.
To find out more about the benefits and history of yoga, click here to read my blog ‘Yoga for Little Ones’.
4. Be a Conscious Breather 🌸
Although breathing was mentioned above, its calming benefits to kids are endless. Conscious breathing can give children a vital self regulation tool for a calmer, relaxed and peaceful state of mind and emotional well-being.
Ask your child to slowly raise their arms above their heads as they breathe in, then gradually lower their arms to beside them as they breathe out. Alternatively, cup the hands around the mouth and slowly widen the arms out to the shape of a balloon whilst they breathe in, then slowly bring the arms back to the mouth as they breathe out. If movement with the breath is not possible, then deep breathing and focusing on the breath coming in and out is just as good. Mirror your child by doing the activity in front of them at the same time for 1 minute or as long as required.
Connecting to the breath can help children mindfully draw their attention to the here and now, shift their focus and gradually feel relaxed.
5. Be Creative 🌸
“Children are naturally creative and only require the right atmosphere to manifest it.” – Gowan & Demos
Many kids show a positive response to activities which stimulate the senses and ignite creativity. When a child is engrossed in a creative activity, it can calmly bring them into the present moment, develop their self-confidence and motivate them to explore the things they feel a passion for.
Mindful creative activities for children include colouring mandalas, making sensory bottles, painting, crafts, swimming, gardening and much much more. Remember to ask your child to tune into their breath, practice self-compassion and be present during the activity. Either way, when the creative activity has been completed in a mindful way, the child may gain a sense of achievement and feel inspired.
Lastly, I hope this post stirs something inside of you to bring mindfulness into your life. With regular practice, it can enhance the well-being of both you and your child.
Miss H ♥