By Kim Norton
Mindfulness is simply the act of being in the moment and as such, practising mindfulness activities can be a fun, engaging way to help our kids and teens stay in the moment and, not worry about what is going to happen next.
Using these techniques will help our children to self-regulate and manage any problems and worries that will arise over the course of the day. Outbursts of anger, meltdowns, panic attacks, general anxiety, emotion control, self-restraint, poor sleep quality and focus and concentration can all be improved using mindfulness activities like those listed below.
Please note that these activities are not designed to simply dismiss our children’s concerns but are designed to bring them back to a state of peace so as they can return to addressing their problems and worries in a calm rational way.
Some popular examples include:
1. One Minute Meditation
Just concentrate on your breath. Every time your mind wanders just bring it back to your breath. Breathe in and breathe out. One minute is all it takes to reset the mind and calm the body. You should get about 16 breaths in one minute for a healthy adult or about 25 breaths in a primary school aged child so just count your breaths. Breathe in, one, breathe out. Breathe in, two, breathe out and continue for one minute.
You can write, draw, use point form, doodle, or write in length, whatever suits you at the time. The idea is to get those thoughts out of your head and onto the paper. Once released to paper, our written thoughts take on a different energy and meaning, turning into actions and goals, self-awareness, insight, and inspiration. No longer swirling aimlessly in our heads creating stress, anxiety, and confusion.
3. Box Breathing
Breathe in for the count of 4, hold for the count of 4, breathe out for the count of 4. Repeat 3 more times. For our older teens and adults try 4-7-8 breathing: inhale in for the count of 4, hold for the count of 7 and then exhale for the count of 8.
4. Grounding Activity
Look around and name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel
(or touch), 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can taste and 1 thing
you can smell.
5. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Take a deep breath in and then, breathe out. Repeat this several times if needed to centre and calm yourself. On your next breath in, squeeze your feet muscles as tight as you can and as you breathe out, release the muscles in your feet and release the tension.
Breathe in and breathe out. With your next breath in, squeeze your calf muscles tight and as you breathe out, release the calf muscles, and release the tension.
Breathe in and breathe out. Continue up the body finishing at the head, squeezing, and releasing as you go.
Other examples include:
6. Blow bubbles
7. Play “noughts & crosses”
8. Chew gum
9. Listen to music
10. Blow up a balloon
11. Practise belly breathing
12. Play “hangman”
13. Suck on a lollipop
14. Heartbeat exercise
15. Blow on a party blower
16. Read a book
17. Play “eye spy”
18. Blow on a pinwheel
19. Make a calm down bottle
20. Listen to a guided meditation
21. Five finger breathing
22. Play “Simon says”
23. Colouring in
24. Blindfold taste test
25. Yoga or exercise
26. Name “5 things you are grateful for”
27. Draw a mandala
28. Draw your breath
29. Play “who am I?”
30. Go on a nature walk
Sit down with your child and produce a list of activities that they can refer to when needed. Mix it up with a variety of indoor and outdoor activities and ones that can performed independently, with minimal supervision and with other family members. With a list of ideas close by, your child now has a valuable stress management tool that will enable them to regulate their emotions in a natural holistic way.
Kim is the founder of Rainbow Light Therapies and is a Holistic Counsellor specialising in stress and anxiety management for kids, teens, and adults. Kim provides a unique, intuitive, and individualised therapy approach through individual, small group and family counselling sessions both online and at her studio in Langwarrin. Also working with special needs kids, Kim runs sessions and workshops for people of all abilities on various topics throughout the year.
Please see www.rainbowlighttherapies.com.au for more information.