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Simple (but Powerful) Mindfulness Activities for Children and Adults

Practicing mindfulness comes with list of benefits nearly a mile long – among them the ability to help develop empathy and curiosity, increase focus and self-regulation, promote happiness and optimism, relieve stress and anxiety, and that’s not all.

“Children are uniquely suited to benefit from mindfulness practice,” says New York Times writer David Gelles in his Well Guide on Mindfulness for Children. “Part of the reason why mindfulness is so effective for children can be explained by the way the brain develops. While our brains are constantly developing throughout our lives, connections in the prefrontal circuits are created at their fastest rate during childhood. Mindfulness, which promotes skills that are controlled in the prefrontal cortex, like focus and cognitive control, can therefore have a particular impact on the development of skills including self-regulation, judgment and patience during childhood.”

Whether you have two minutes or 20, there are many simple, powerful ways you can practice mindfulness with your child (and reap the benefits as an adult, too!). Try out these activities, several of which we practice at school, and make your favorites part of your daily routine.

1. 5-4-3-2-1 Mindfulness Technique
Name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste (or name 1 thing you love about someone else or yourself).

2. Hiss, Hum, Buzz Breathing
Inhale deeply and hiss like a snake when you exhale. Next, inhale deeply and make a light humming sound when you exhale. Lastly, inhale deeply and exhale with a buzz. Repeat.

3. Body Relaxing
Lay flat on the floor and take 5 deep breaths. Then with each additional breath, start relaxing your body. Start with your toes and end with your head.

4. Mindful Snack
Have a ‘mindful snack’ by describing the smell, texture and taste of the food.

5. Mindful Hearing
Bang on a pot/pan and have your child signal when they no longer hear the sound “hanging” in the air.

6. Listen to the Beat
Tune into the body by getting down on your child’s level and “feeling” each other’s heartbeats.

No matter which activities you and your child enjoy best – whether they’re these or others – be fully present and have fun as you start, or continue, your practice.

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