The run up to Christmas can be a busy time of year. With all the festive activities, social interactions and events, many children are excited about this time of year. However, the busyness can also be overwhelming for kids struggling to find a sense of peace and calm. Just mentally processing all the unexpected comings and goings can result in stress, panic, anxiety and frustration. This is where mindfulness can help.
Mindfulness brings children back to the present moment by focusing on their breathing, and noticing their immediate surroundings and bodily sensations in a non-judgemental way. Grounding, also known as earthing, is a mindfulness technique which helps kids become aware of how their feet and body are connected to the ground/earth beneath them, move towards feeling centred from within, and gain a more balanced, focused state of mind and being. If grounding is done successfully it can calm a child’s nervous system and ultimately help them relax.
The 54321 Grounding Technique is a Sensory Awareness method which can be used with any child who needs grounding, particularly if they are becoming easily distracted, or feeling overwhelmed during busy times. During the 54321 activity, as you guide your child through each of the steps below, please use a calming tone of voice with minimal language. Encourage your child to keep their eyes open, remain in one space (if possible) and to respond clearly and loudly to your instructions because this helps them remain present.
Focus on the Breath
First, ask the child to breathe in deeply as you slowly count for 5 seconds. Get them to imagine their belly is an inflatable balloon being filled with peaceful energy. They next exhale for 7 seconds to gradually let go of any unwanted thoughts, feelings or sensations. Do this for 3 or 4 rounds. For added visual benefits (and if the child is in the right frame of mind), use a bottle of bubbles by getting the child to breathe into their belly for 5 seconds and use their mouth to blow bubbles for 7 seconds. Each bubble represents an unwanted thought, worry or feeling floating in the air. As the child watches the bubbles pop and disappear into the air, it symbolises the progressive letting go of inner stress and worries.
Sense of Sight (Five)
Next, ask the child to name 5 things they can see in their immediate surroundings. This can be shapes, colours, clothing and other objects. Remind them to simply notice what they can see naturally in the here and now without trying too hard to force any visions.
Sense of Touch (Four)
Now ask the child to name 4 things they can feel. This may be their feet on the ground, the air coming in and out of their nostrils or their body on their chair. This could also be bodily sensations like their tummy rumbling or an itchy foot.
Sense of Hearing (Three)
Ask the child to keep breathing naturally as they focus on 3 things they can hear. It may be the clock ticking, a person tapping their feet, other children or noises outside. Again, by simply noticing all that is, it brings the child into the present moment.
Sense of Smell (Two)
Now, ask your child to name 2 scents they can smell. It may be the smell of food, the carpet or even their breath. Depending on the child, you may want to spray some calming scents into the air for added relaxation. If they can’t smell anything in their immediate surroundings, ask them to imagine 2 of their favourite smells.
Sense of Connection (One)
Ask the child to connect to 1 thing they like about themselves or are proud of. This draws the child towards self-recognition and develops a sense of connection from within. By using their senses to firstly notice their surroundings in a non-judgemental way, then gradually honing in on themselves positively in the present moment, the child can develop a sense of inner connection and helps close the grounding process.
Back to the Breath
Lastly, get the child to mindfully focus on their breathing again by repeating the 5/7 breathing activity above for a few moments to help reorient them back to what they were doing before the grounding activity.
With life’s ups and downs, particularly during eventful festive periods, the 54321 Grounding technique can mindfully help bring kids into the here and now when they experience heightened emotions. I hope this post inspires you to find peace by firstly grounding yourself and then helping the little ones in your life do the same.
Miss H 🌟