The COVID-19 crisis has knocked people around the world out of their daily routines and shaken our collective sense of security. Kids are no exception. Classes are now online. Playgrounds have closed. Sports games have been canceled. Weekends and weekdays have blurred.
Many kids are feeling bored, scared, and anxious as they adjust to our new normal, and parents are scrambling to find ways to keep them healthy and happy. Many moms and dads are doing this on top of virtual conference calls, overflowing inboxes, and managing clients. It’s bound to fray the nerves of any family.
Meditation and mindfulness are powerful tools to help kids manage complex emotions that arise during stressful, uncertain times. These practices build coping skills and are easier to integrate into your routines than you might think. Take a look at Be’s tips for introducing meditation to your kids as well as four easy exercises to try below.
Tips for introducing your kids to meditation and mindfulness:
- Lead by example: Make meditation and mindfulness a family activity and participate in the exercises with your kids. This will show your children the importance of these practices and create bonding moments.
- Make it a daily habit: If you can, complete a meditation or mindfulness activity every day with your kids. This will help them build the habit and eventually, they can use the skills you are teaching them to self-soothe in challenging situations. And it also gives you an opportunity to meditate as well.
- Start small: Meditation and mindfulness activities don’t have to be lengthy or complicated to be effective. When teaching kids these practices, it’s best to start small.
Meditation and mindfulness exercises for kids
- Deep breathing: This is a great technique if a child is experiencing stress or anger, which is certainly expected given our ongoing disruptions, or if they can’t fall asleep. Have your child stand or sit quietly and take a few long breaths. Ask where they feel the air moving. Do they feel it in their chest? Their nose and mouth? Don’t forget to breathe with them.
- Notice walk: Walks are a great way to break up the monotony of being at home and teach kids mindfulness. Head outside and have your kids point out things they see, feel, and hear—especially if it’s something completely new. Maybe a tree has bloomed or a puddle has appeared from the recent rains. You can pause for a moment and have the kids concentrate on what they hear. If you come across a stick or rock, have the kids pick it up—if it’s safe—and describe what they feel.
- Yoga stretches: Easy yoga stretches help release stress and can be done as a family. (It’s also a great way to treat your body after you’ve spent all day at your desk working from home.) Turn on some relaxing music and lead your kids through poses—which can be as simple as touching the toes. Encourage them to take deep breaths as they stretch, too. You can even ask them if they feel any tension in their body and focus on letting it go. Need inspiration for easy yoga poses? Check out this slideshow.
- Gratitude attitude: Once a day, sit down as a family and have everyone say one thing they’re grateful for. It can be big or small, silly or serious. The point is to celebrate together and help your kids think positively.
Let us know what you think about these exercises in the comments below. And please share any techniques you’re using at home to help kids through this uncertain time.