Unless you have been living under a rock you have probably heard people talking about Mindfulness before. You might just think it’s some “new trend” but that’s not the case.
Psychologists have been teaching their clients mindfulness and relaxation techniques for decades. The reason is because it’s a great way to help treat internalising disorders such as anxiety and depression.
As a child psychologist every one of my sessions ends with a mindfulness and relaxation exercise Why? It helps to develop their emotional regulation and gives them a tool bucket of strategies they can use whenever they are feeling overwhelmed by their emotions. It helps them learn how to calm their body.
Learning mindfulness and relaxation techniques gives you control over your emotions and body. I’ve said it a million times before but you cannot have a feeling without first having a thought. Mindfulness exercises help to calm your thoughts, which in turn calms the body.
The wonderful thing about mindfulness is that it’s easy and fun to teach your children. You don’t need to be a psychologist to be able to teach your child mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
Below I share two of my favourite mindfulness activities to do with children. You can do these mindfulness activities anywhere you are and at any point in the day.
If you want to teach your child how to calm down their thoughts and body then try out these activities below.
This is an easy one. You have your child stop where they are and then ask them these questions. I do this with clients by taking turns. For younger children you might answer each question first and then have them answer after you. You can pick one or two questions or you might like to ask them all.
My son loves doing this when we are outside lying on the trampoline or grass!
- 3 things you can see right now
- 3 things you can hear right now (Closing their eyes can help with this one)
- 3 things you can feel right now
- 3 things you can smell right now
- 3 things that are blue (or any other colour)
- 3 things you can see (or feel) that are soft
- 3 things you can see (or feel) that are hard
- 3 things that are round
- 3 things that are square
You might like to come up with your own. The reason this is a great mindfulness activity is because it teaches your child to be in the present moment and focusing on things outside of themselves.
Lemon squeeze is one that the kids always really like. First have your child close their eyes and then read the script out below as it’s written. This one is great because they can do it anywhere and no one would notice what they are doing.
Pretend you have a whole lemon in your left hand. Now squeeze it hard. Try to squeeze all the juice out of it. Feel the tightness in your hand and arm as you squeeze. Keep going.
Now drop the lemon! Notice how your muscles feel when they relax.
Take another lemon in your right hand this time and squeeze. Try to squeeze this one harder than you did the first one. That’s right squeeze it really hard. Keep squeezing!
Now drop the lemon and relax.
See how much better your hands and arm feel when they are relaxed. Feel how all the tension has released from your muscles.
Now take two lemons this time and hold one in both hands. Now squeeze all the juice out. Don’t leave a single drop. Squeeze harder and harder. Feel the juice dripping between your fingers. Good.
Now relax and let the lemons fall from your hand and notice how relaxed and heavy your arms feel now.