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If you want to be happy, be.

Henry David Thoreau

Mindfulness Practices for Kids

Please check back soon as more fun mindfulness practices to share with children will be added.

In the meantime, the following resources have lots of great ideas for practices for children:

  • The Mindful Child by Susan Kaiser-Greenland
  • Planting Seeds by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Community
  • Building Emotional Intelligence by Linda Lantierri

Activities and Exercises

Each day, think about and even record three things that you feel grateful for - things that make you happy.

They could be happy events that happened that day like fun game at school, or special people in your life, something you did that you are proud of, a pet, whatever brings you a feeling of gratitude. You might even consider starting your own gratitude journal and add to it each day.

Note to parents about gratitude practice. Children can benefit from being encouraged to take a moment to pause and reflect on what went well that day and some things that make them happy. This practice is a way to nourish well-being, contentment and inner peace (Hanson, 2009).

This activity is lots of fun with a small group of children!

First: teach /review a series of yoga poses with children - perhaps ones you have been practicing with them for some time. I find that children often know many of them because yoga is officially part of the Ontario School Curriculum and so many children get a taste of yoga at school.

Some of the favourite poses that I use for this activity are:

  • cat
  • child
  • puppy
  • downward dog
  • cow
  • lion
  • airplane
  • mountain
  • tree
  • eagle
  • bear

Or you can brainstorm with children a list of poses that they know. You can then write the poses on a large piece of flipchart paper for the children to see. Then let the storytelling begin!Each time a yoga pose is said, the children all do that pose.

I will start the story somehow often with, "Once upon a time, there was a_________" and ask for the children to fill in the blanks. We then continue with this as a story emerges. For younger children, I fill in more of the action content in between the poses and allow them to call out the poses. For example, "Once upon a time, there was a_________. The ___________ thought that it might be a nice day to go to the ______________."

For older children, I say less and give them the chance to make up a whole sentence with action content and a new pose. "Once upon a time, there was a_________. The ___________ was _________________________."

I have found that the children then LOVE to share their creation with their parents in the form of a little skit (re-telling of the story).

Thought balloons is a fun way to teach children about the practice of letting go of challenging thoughts.

Give each child a balloon and a marker. Invite them to think about a thought that they have that is not helpful to them. For younger children, I offer examples so that they understand. For example, "I can never get this right. This is too hard for me. I never understand math." etc. With older children, I might ask them for some examples.

Invite the children to blow up the balloon (without tying it closed) and then write the thought on the balloon.

Then, invite the children to gather in a circle, with all of their balloons inflated. Sometimes I ask the children if they would like to share their thought, other times I do not - just depends on the sense I have of the group that day.

Then invite the children, on the count of three, to let go of their balloons and watch them, with all the thoughts, fly away.

There is always lots of laughter!

There are many fun ways for children to practice lovingkindness. In my experience, this practice is often a favourite.

I often practice Lovingkindness with children through a song "May We Be Happy," Where children are invited to send phrases of lovingkindness to themselves, to people (or pets) they care about, to people they see regularly- but perhaps don't know that well and then to the whole world - all the plants, animals, people they know and don't know. Children often like to shout out who they are sending lovingkindness to during the practice.

Choose phrases that are a fit for you and the group. It is the intention behind them that is most important. Phrases can include:

  • May you be happy and live with joy
  • May I be healthy
  • May we be safe
  • May I feel peaceful

Amy Saltzman invites young children to blow kisses to people they love and then also back to themselves (she has a recorded practice on her practice CD - Still Quiet Place).

Nurturing connection, one breath at a time...