Life gets crazy and busy – and we often forget to slow down and enjoy the simply things in life, such as snuggling with your little ones, reading together, staying in your pajamas and more. You can read all about other ways to enjoy everyday life in the April issue of Metro Parent.
Here, mindfulness expert Kristen Ervin provides four mindfulness exercises for kids.
Make a mind jar
In his book Growing Up Mindful, Dr. Christopher Willard shares a simple and fun way to illustrate mindfulness to children of all ages. Fill a lidded glass jar with water and have your child drop in pinches of glitter – one color representing thoughts, another emotions and a third behaviors. Seal and shake the jar. As the glitter swirls, point out that’s how our thoughts, emotions and actions behave when they are agitated by events and people around us, good and bad. Only when the glitter settles to the bottom can we see clearly through the water again, just as we can only think, feel and act clearly after we allow ourselves time to be still.
Thank the farmer
Susan Kaiser Greenland, author of Mindful Games, describes a mindfulness technique for mealtimes. Look at your food and think about everything and everyone it took to bring it to your plate. Thank the seed that grew into the corn (“thank you, seed”), the worm that nourished the soil (“thank you, worm”) and the sun and rain that helped it grow (“thank you, nature”). Thank the farmer, the truck driver and the person who stocked the shelves at the grocery store. Then thank each family member who shopped, cooked and served the dinner. “It’s a way to appreciate all the effort and time it took to get the food to the table,” Ervin says.
Three good things
When kids are faced with disappointment, instead of focusing on the negative, acknowledge their feelings but ask them to think of three good things in their lives. “We don’t want to brush their feelings under the rug, but broaden their perspective so they can see good things and bad things coexist. Just as it can rain on a sunny day,” Ervin says. “Don’t get too caught up in the sadness. Finding three good things helps them to stay balanced.”
Cut out strips of colored construction paper and have each family member write down something they’re thankful for. Link the paper together and watch the chain grow, a visual reminder of not only the simple joys of life, but how your awareness intertwines, grows over time and links you together as a family.
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