Mindfulness is the practice of learning to be present in the moment. By learning to focus on the moment, kids and young adults are actually practicing self-regulation skills. This helps learners check in with how they are feeling, what they are thinking, and what they need. Mindfulness can be practiced through a variety of breathing techniques, strategies, and activities.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness with kids and young adults pays off. Here are just some of the benefits your learners can see:
- Improves self-regulation skills
- Helps manage emotions
- Improves self-control
- Increases focus and attention
- Encourages positive thinking
- Develops self-awareness
- Teaching coping skills
- Promotes self-acceptance and self-love
- Creates a sense of calm
- Encourages empathy
- Improves decision-making skills
Mindfulness is a practice that can be taught. What’s most important is to continue to practice and add it to your weekly or daily routines. You can practice mindfulness first thing in the morning, after a transition, or at the end of the day before students go home. You can also encourage mindfulness prior to a high-stakes test or stressful situation. It’s not only a tool to help relax and soothe the classroom, but it’s a coping skill kids and teens need for their lives.
Mindful Activities to Practice
There are many different techniques for practicing mindfulness. Here are a few you can try right away.
Mindful Breathing. One of the most basic strategies to teach and practice is mindful breathing. This is the practice of being intentional as we breathe in and out. One fun breathing exercise to try is “cool off the pizza.” Have students imagine there is a hot slice of pizza in front of them. Breathe in to smell the aroma of the pizza. Then, breathe out to cool it off.
For shape breathing, have students trace their fingers around shapes (such as a triangle or square) as they breathe in and out. You can also have a bit of fun with mindful breathing by pretending you are blowing out birthday candles on a cake or imagining you are a fire-breathing dragon! The options are endless. Learn more about other fun mindful breathing exercises you can try.
Mindful Coloring. Grab a set of coloring books, pictures printed from online, or use these free mindful coloring pages. You can spend time coloring together while listening to calming music. Teach students to just color as they breathe in and out. If students make a “mistake” or something in their design doesn’t go quite right, tell them to embrace those feelings as they breathe in and out.
Mindful Nature Walk. If going outdoors is an option, take a mindful nature walk. Spend time noticing everything you see, hear, smell, feel, hear, and taste. Make it a more interactive experience with a mindful scavenger hunt.
Mindful Crafts. Crafts can also be a fun tool to teach and practice mindfulness. Rock painting, beading, and origami are just a few examples. Teach students to complete the craft as they practice mindful breathing.
Practice Yoga. Teach mindfulness through yoga postures, such as tree pose and warrior pose. Remind kids and teens to continue practicing mindful breathing as they hold each posture.
Mindful Journaling. Have students take a look around and notice what they see, hear, smell, feel, and taste. Take a few minutes to experience the surroundings and write about it. Use this complete Mindfulness Journal filled with mindful journal prompts for the whole year.
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If you need more information on mindfulness and how to get started, these blog posts are a great resource for parents and educators. Check them out: