MindFULness

Guest Authored By Haley J, LSW

Blue Bird Day and meditation

Mindfulness has several well-known benefits, including strengthening self-control, lowering anxiety and stress levels, improving emotional regulation skills, and improving social skills and communication. According to Juliann Garey, “Mindfulness is a meditation practice that begins with paying attention to breathing in order to focus on the here and nownot what might have been or what youre worried could be.

The ultimate goal is to give you enough distance from disturbing thoughts and emotions to be able to observe them without immediately reacting to them.” There are many researched benefits of mindfulness practices to address emotional regulation and coping strategies among adults and children, including conditions ranging from ADHD, anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, depression, and stress.

At Blue Bird, in social-emotional learning group (SEL) social work therapists engage in a variety of mindfulness practices to target identifying emotions and coping skill strategies.  

Below I have outlined several mindfulness activities to try at home: 

Belly Buddies: 

This activity helps your child focus on their breathing and helps your child learn how to control their breathing.  

During this activity, your child will lay flat on the floor in a quiet room where your child feels the most comfortable/safe. You can use your child’s favorite small toy, stuffed animal, or something that you created together (I.e. painted rock.) Lay the item flat on your child’s tummy and have them watch the object as they take slow deep breaths in and out.   

Mindful Posing (yoga)

One easy way for children to dip their toes into mindfulness is through body poses. To get your kids excited, tell them that doing fun poses can help them feel strong, brave, and happy. 

Have the kids go somewhere quiet and familiar, a place they feel safe. Next, tell them to try one of the following poses: 

  • The Superman: this pose is practiced by standing with the feet just wider than the hips, fists clenched, and arms reached out to the sky, stretching the body as tall as possible. 
  • The Wonder Woman: this pose is struck by standing tall with legs wider than hip-width apart and hands or fists placed on the hips (Karen Young, 2017). 

The Mindful Jar: 

This activity can teach children how strong emotions can take hold, and how to find peace when these strong emotions feel overwhelming. 

  • First, get a clear jar (like a Mason jar) and fill it almost all the way with water. Next, add a big spoonful of glitter glue or glue and dry glitter to the jar. Put the lid back on the jar and shake it to make the glitter swirl. 
  • Finally, use the following script or take inspiration from it to form your own mini-lesson: 

“Imagine that the glitter is like your thoughts when you’re stressed, mad, or upset. See how they whirl around and make it really hard to see clearly? That’s why it’s so easy to make silly decisions when you’re upset  because youre not thinking clearly. Dont worry this is normal and it happens in all of us (yep, grownups too). 

[Now put the jar down in front of them.] 

Now watch what happens when you’re still for a couple of moments. Keep watching. See how the glitter starts to settle and the water clears? Your mind works the same way. When you’re calm for a little while, your thoughts start to settle and you start to see things much clearer. Deep breaths during this calming process can help us settle when we feel a lot of emotions” (Karen Young, 2017). 

This exercise not only helps children learn about how their emotions can cloud their thoughts, but it also facilitates the practice of mindfulness while focusing on the swirling glitter in the jar. 

Emotions Flashcards: 

A great way to get your child thinking about emotions is by talking about them! These emotions flashcards are a fun and easy way to help your child start to identify emotions. 

Resources:  

Ackerman, Courtney E. “25 Fun Mindfulness Activities for Children and Teens (+Tips!).” PositivePsychology.com, 4 July 2019, positivepsychology.com/mindfulness-for-children-kids-activities/. 

Garey, Juliann, and Marie Claire. “The Power and Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation.” Child Mind Institute, childmind.org/article/the-power-of-mindfulness/.