Friday, 14 October 2016

Three Easy Mindfulness Activities for You and Your Kids

Mindful Chidren

As kids head back to school and work-life ramps up after the leisure of summer, you and your children might be experiencing more anxiety and searching for a way to bring more calm into your lives. 

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing attention on the present moment in an intentional and accepting way. It is a great antidote to the way many of us live on automatic pilot as well as our search for constant distractions when the stress of life is overwhelming. 

Early research on introducing mindfulness techniques with kids has shown that they are effective with specific instructions, for a short-time period, and with dialogue about what the child is experiencing in the moment.

Here are three simple activities that you can do with your school-aged child to introduce a little bit of mindfulness into your lives:

1. Mindful Eating 

While sitting at a meal together, invite your child to take a moment to play a game of discovery with you. Ask your child to choose one thing on their dish to examine. Then suggest that they spend a few seconds really looking at it on the plate. 

Ask them what they see.

Then ask them to smell the food and ask them what they notice. 
Ask them to put the food against their lips and ask them what they feel.

Ask them to put it in their mouth and let it sit there without chewing it for a moment and ask what they taste. Finally ask them to chew it slowly and to count how many chews they can do before swallowing the food. 

2. Mindful Listening 

Stand in a park, in your back yard or anywhere else where you could hear a variety of sounds and suggest to your child that you want to play a game with them.

Ask them to stand very still without making a sound so that they can really listen for different sounds. Depending on the age of your child, you might suggest that they tell you what they can hear or you could offer a suggestion like “do you hear the wind in the trees?”

After they have spent some time listening for different sounds, you could ask them which sound do they think is closest and then which sound do they think is the furthest away.

3. Mindful Breathing

A very simple way to include a mindfulness exercise into your child’s life is when they are giving you a hug. This technique could especially be useful when a child is upset about something and needs some extra support to calm down.

As you hold your child in an embrace, take three slow deep belly breaths yourself. A useful way to ensure your breath is deep and slow is to inhale through your nose for a count of seven, hold for a count of four and exhale through your mouth for a count of eight. 
You could also introduce this type of counting breath to your child and modify it to a count of four for all the inhaling, holding and exhaling if the seven, four, eight breath is too difficult for them.
I hope that these simple activities will add a little bit more calm and stillness into your and your children’s lives.

About the author

Sofia Lopoukhine Counselling and Psychotherapy Ottawa
Sofia Lopoukhine, Counsellor for individual adults, understands that deciding to see a counsellor and psychotherapist can feel overwhelming and that’s why she is happy to offer you a chance to meet with her in person to decide if you would like to work with her. Clients that Sofia has worked with have experienced a variety of issues including anxiety, depression, trauma, relationship boundaries, communication and intimacy, low self-confidence, identity questions, unresolved grief, chronic pain, and life transitions.