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My 2-Step Secret Weapon for Mindfulness with Kids

Genevieve_Padalecki_AustinGems_MindfulnessTips_kids

Teaching my kids compassion, love, and kindness is a huge priority to me as a parent. I try and meditate with my little ones as often as possible. Meditation can help kids develop better self esteem, help with their emotional lives, help with their sleep, and even improve their focus.

Here are some of my favorite mindfulness exercises to do with kids!

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Spidey Senses

My kiddos love superheroes as I’m sure a lot of you can relate. It’s a big phase in our home right now, Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers seem to be their heroes of choice at the moment, but DC, Marvel… you name it they love it. That’s why the Spider Man meditation is perfect for our superpower-obsessed little ones. In this meditation, kids can unleash their inner Spidey Senses and tune into their own five feelings.

For example, for a touch exercise, give your children an object like a rubber ball or a feather, something they can encompass in their hands. Encourage them to close their eyes and describe to you what the object feels like. Ask them about texture, is the object smooth or rough? Is it heavy or light? Encourage all observations.

Similarly, encourage them to concentrate on what they smell, share something fragrant like a lemon peel or a sprig of rosemary. Invite your kiddos to close their eyes, open their noses, and breath in. Ask them to concentrate on what they smell, the subtleties and the differences between the object and the fresh air and allow them to share their experience and share what they noticed.

Ringing bells is another way to use Spidey Senses. Ring a bell and have your children listen to the vibration. Ask them to stay silent and raise their hand when they no longer hear the sound.

I’ve found that this exercise has an inherent calming effect, both on the parent AND the child. It allows me to find a moment of quiet and mindfulness, while also teaching my kiddos to connect to the present moment and be sensitive to the world around them. It prompts them to reflect inward and ultimately helps them learn to isolate one sense from another.

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Sitting Still Like a Frog

One of my favorite mindfulness books for children is Sitting Still Like a Frog by Eline Snel. Snel has so many wonderful exercises and ideas on how to teach kids the art of meditation. The exercise that I love best is also the one that the book is named for: Sitting Still Like a Frog. In the exercise, kids pretend to be a frog sitting on a very still lily pad. Start by asking them to imagine that if they move too much the lily pad will tip and they will fall into the water. Then encourage them to breathe in and out to watch their tummies go up and down. Your little frogs should then use their senses to observe everything around them. This will allow them to become aware of their surroundings, slowly storing up energy. After about a minute or two (or for as long as you like!), have your frogs jump from their lily pads and tell you a story about what they experienced.

With any mindfulness exercise you share with your children, remember to keep it simple. Mindfulness is a big concept for kids to understand, so distributing the lessons in bite-size, fun pieces helps them get a grasp of meditation a little bit at a time. Not to mention, by going slow it it will help better develop a sense of self awareness and a deeper connection not just to of what is happening around them and what is happening right now.

Have you found any mindfulness practices that you and your kids love? Tell me in the comments!

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June 15, 2017
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22 Comments

  • Marci

    I didn’t have the opportunity to meditate with my kids, but the one thing I like to do is sit and look at patterned or textured things – towels, wood, etc – and try to discern things like faces or shapes. Kind of like finding shapes in clouds, I suppose. I find it calming, but it also reminds me to look closely at everything. I think too often we look too quickly, and we miss the everyday beauty around us.

  • Larissa

    This web site is beautiful, congrats Genevieve!

  • Nicole

    When we were kids our dad taught us how to meditate so we could relax better when trying to fall asleep. He told us to close our eyes and just focus on our breathing and to think about each individual part of our body starting with our little finger on our left hand, then to gently tense it before relaxing it and moving onto the next finger, then hand, arm, shoulder, back, right arm etc etc until we had relaxed everything including our head and toes. A parent can sit in the room and list all the body parts for the child to tense and relax, helping kids to learn the process, then they can also do it on their own once they know how. It’s a nice introduction to longer periods of mindfulness without overloading kids with the theories behind it. I also like these tips you’ve listed so when my son is old enough I will encourage him to try them too!

  • Hootie

    I taught this to my children and the children in my preschool. They have used these these techniques in their adult lives and with their children. Whenever I bump into one of my preschool children they still mention how fun it was to do these techniques and how they carry them on through their lives.

  • Beatriz Lopes

    Meditation seems like such an amazing way to share experiences and spend time with kids!These days,everyone’s life is so busy and everything goes by so fast,so is really important to have these little moments who help us to make conections with the people we love!I am sure,when I have kids ,I will do this!

  • Lauren

    Hi! I’m a teacher and one thing that always calms my students down is the website GoNoodle. It has content-related videos, but it also has confidence boosters, self affirmation, energy-burning and meditation videos. While this is targeted for teaching, it truly helps kids focus and relax/destress. It’s a wonderful way to make school enjoyable! I don’t have any kids of my own (yet!) but during my jobs as a daycare employee, kids loved to make stretching a game. They see how high they can reach while sitting, if they can reach all the way to the table, etc. It makes them laugh and enjoy a calm down after outside time.

    I love your suggestions! Thank you for sharing!

  • mary bryant

    My mindfulness brings me to the most serene experience of my life…diving the great barrier reef. Weightless. ALL you hear are your deliberate breaths that bring awareness inward, reminding me that most unconscious and simplest of acts is the essence of life

    • Tangee

      Thank you Mary! I’m parenting my grandchildren ages 2 and 4. So much has changed since my kids were little and I’m always looking for ways to navigate this crazy path we are on as parents again in our 50’s. It’s very hard to keep them mindful and focused after they return from visits with their parents and I think this will help me learn how to help them. While they are too little for the videos you recommended, they will help me to help them. Thank you for sharing and thank you Gen for your insight as well.

  • Sarah Wylde

    I found yoga, mindfulness and mediation in my mid thirties. I love it. It keeps me balanced. It keeps me at peace and clam. I have a mindful mediation app that I use on my phone so I can take it one the road and basically anywhere with me. And I’ve gotten really into using essential oils while meditating and doing yoga

  • Kathryn West

    Thanks for this Gen. I try to Gentle Parent my lb and as we have 2 akitas and 2 cats, kindness and compassion is a big part of daily life. I also work in Youth Offending and have seen firsthand how meditation/mindfulness/yoga can help emotional regulation in troubled teens. I just couldn’t simplify it enough for a very active nearly-five year old….. and now I can!!

  • Keisha

    Do you yourself read the emails sent to the email with nowandgen in it?

  • Dina

    Hi! I’m a teacher and will returning to the 1st grade classroom this year. I love your ideas on meditation. I’m going to try and incorporate meditation into the classroom this year using gonoodle and the book you suggested. I can’t wait to see how it helps my kiddos. Thanks so much for sharing this and your family with us.

  • Maverick

    Dancing with children is important too! Not just randomly dancing around the house to whatever song has come on, but to focus on the movements of each body part and how it flows to the rhythm of the music. Ballet is a great way for kids to learn about feelings, gracefulness, and movement. It can help calm them down, or get them excited (which really just depends of what type of music is playing). Barre work especially is a great way for children to tap into their mind and learn how to focus on the right now because of the multitasking, strength, and focus that it requires.

  • Stephanie

    This is such a great idea! Thank you for sharing! I have been wondering how I can get my little guy to start focusing and meditating.

  • Sarah Rose

    So great you are already introducing the experience of peace to your kids! I’ve been doing Transcendental Meditation since I was 5 years old. It’s great at any age, but there is a special version of it for small children (which is what I started with) where you don’t even have to sit still. I”m so grateful my parents introduced me to it at such a youg age because it has been such a wonderful tool thoughout my life. You can check out TM.org for more info. Definitely worth looking into 🙂

  • Alyson

    I’m trying to learn meditation myself, and I love the bell idea. I think I can use that one to begin my practice ( or my practice of my practice?). But I do find time at my spinning wheel leads me to a quiet mind space. It requires a combination of concentration and relaxation to spin successfully. I guess I should be doing more spinning on my wheel, huh?

  • Jennifer

    You seem like such an amazing mom. I’m trying to find my balance as a single mom working and going to school. It’s been so hard but somehow I have kept my patience and have been able to show my daughter lots of love and compassion. She’s only 1 though! So let’s pray I keep my composure! 🙂

  • Maddie

    I love this! I personally love to meditate and definitely will have to try this with my own children. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jessica

    I have to say I love how open you and Jared are with all of your kids!! I saw a picture on Instagram with shep and he had his nails painted. I remember one time when I was working at an elementary school. I worked in the before and after school program, and we had a pamper day for the girls and a “boys” day for the boys. When we ran out of things for the boys to do, and the girls were still getting pampered the boys asked if they could be pampered as well. One of the dads came in to pick up his son, saw he was getting his nails done, not even polish just getting them cleaned up, and got so mad that we were even considering touching his sons nails. He then later took the boy out of out program.
    We had to stop doing anything “girly,” to the boys and take them to the gym so they had something to do. I was actually pretty offended that this dad threw such a fit about it. I feel like his son would of grown to be a more open minded and well rounded individual if his dad wasn’t so closed minded.

  • Jess

    This is awesome 🙂 I read the book 10 Mindful Minutes by Goldie Hawn it it was great. I bought the book thinking it would help me with meditation but it’s also how you can help children. Helps you discover ways you can teach them to cope and understand what and why they are feeling a certain way. I use the techniques with my baby niece that is 3. Whenever she gets upset, I remind her to breathe deeply and it will help her to calm down. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t lol. When she gets upset, I ask her “what can you do to calm down?” and she starts taking deep breaths, I love it! Such a wonderful website and great information that you are sharing with the world. Thank you!!

  • DEBBIE GRAY

    I love reading your site as I missed out on much of my children’s lives due to my schizophrenia although we are very close. I find meditation difficult as my brain runs at a hundred miles an hour. So I do Aikido kata with a jo instead which I guess is like meditation only I’m making definite movements that I constantly have to think about and physically do. I also encourage my 8 year old (hyperactive) grandson to attend and he loves it. Your family is beautiful and I love and will continue to read about you all.

  • Zaroma

    This sounds like a great method. I was wondering if there were any specific ways I could alter it to be more suitable for a two year old. I’ve tried it as it is for my kid brother, Mali, hell, I’ve tried everything there is for him, but it just doesn’t seem to work. You seem to have it all under control, and your kiddos seem to be so we’ll behaved. Could you maybe share how you successfully lead your sons through their terrible twos? Please and thank you.

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