With the craziness of Christmas and summer holidays just around the corner, there’s sure to be moments of overwhelm and chaos. Instead of reaching for the remote (or that third glass of wine!) engage your kids in some quiet time and bring them into the present moment with mindful movement, breath and creative mindfulness activities.
Healthy distractions help to regulate heightened emotions and create a space for things to settle into a state of ease and flow. Providing kids with healthy distractions diffuses challenging situations and offers them an opportunity to detach from the chaos and find their calm. It’s also a great bonding opportunity.
Beth Borowsky, Founder of The Karma Class, educator, kids and adults yoga teacher and teacher trainer, shares five mindful activities to do with your child to build resilience, cultivate coping skills and help boost their mood in challenging times.
Yoga is a fun way to bring children into their bodies, while cultivating strength and flexibility. When children have healthy body awareness, they feel more confident - both physically and mentally – which encourages greater self esteem.
Roll out a yoga mat and practice a few simple yoga poses breathing evenly and smoothly through your nose.
Mindful breathing or focusing on one’s breath helps to quickly alleviate stress, reduce anxiety and bring the body and mind into quiet balance. When we cultivate conscious (and longer) inhale breaths, we increase the oxygen in our blood stream, which helps to alleviate tired muscles and brains. When we extend our exhales, we immediately switch on the relaxation response which instantly helps us to feel calmer.
Find a quiet space to lie down together, place your hands on your belly and pretend to blow up your favourite colour balloon. Feel your belly rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale.
Take a silent slow walk together through the park, barefoot if possible. Before you begin, decide what you’re going to focus. Here are some ideas:
- Listen for different sounds
- Notice the different coloured flowers / leaves
- Notice different smells
- Walk really slowly and feel the various textures under your feet
- Look out for creepy crawlies
Visualisations – Imagination Vacations
Guided visualisation is one of the most common mindful techniques used to bring children into the present moment, to nurture self awareness, and help them to better understand their feelings. It guides them on an imagination vacation to a happy place where everything is peaceful and calm, and where they feel safe to connect to their inner wisdom and explore what may sometimes create distress or fear.
Mindful colouring invites children to quietly focus on whatever it is they are colouring. Download mandalas – circular patterns to be coloured in – and invite your child to simply enjoy the art of colouring, without any judgement. It’s a great stress release, cultivating calm and focus. Play some quiet soothing music in the background. If your child is too young to colour, try finger painting.
One of the most beautiful gifts we can give children today is the experience of being quiet, in both body and mind. By offering short experiences of quiet time and relaxation – through visualisations, mindfulness exercises, silent moments, calming music - they begin to experience and reap the benefits of being quiet inside and learn wonderful tools to draw from when they feel stressed, anxious or upset.
Click here to download free hand drawn mandalas for ages 3 to 10..
Beth Borowsky is an educator, yoga teacher, teacher trainer and mum of 2 adult daughters. She is the founder of JustBreatheYoga (www.justbreatheyoga.com.au) and The Karma Class (www.thekarmaclass.com ). Their NESA accredited workshop A Karma Classroom: Yoga, Breath + Mindfulness teaches Australian teachers how to implement culture change within their classrooms and school by easily weaving minutes of daily Yoga, Breath and Mindfulness into the day.