Teaching young children mindfulness is a lot easier and more fun than one might think. As an early childhood therapist, I adapt and find ways to make social and emotional lessons more creative and engaging for the little ones. I quickly found out that this works for mindfulness too!
Why notice your breath? I tell children how noticing their breath can actually help them calm down by simply paying attention to their bodies. I also talk about how breathing is your body’s special clue to how you are feeling (fast breathing could mean anger or fear, slow breathing relaxed, etc.).
Here’s a simple breathing mindfulness lesson that can be used individually with a child or with a group: Have the child or children start by noticing their breath. Have them put their hands up to their mouth and notice how the air is cool when they breathe in and warm when they breath out their mouth. Putting a hand on their chest or stomach and noticing the rise and fall of the breath is another way to help them notice this.
I have learned that children especially enjoy using visual cues for noticing their breath such as pinwheels. Have them breathe fast, then slowly, and notice the difference in the pinwheel movement. Have the child make the pinwheel move as long as possible by breathing out even more slowly.
Make your own breathing visual cue! I make “breathing wands” with little ones to notice their breath at home too.
YOU WILL NEED:
- A toilet paper or paper towel roll
- Markers or other decorative things
- Streamers or thin ribbon that is light enough to be moved easily by their breath
HOW TO DO IT:
1) Take a toilet paper or paper towel roll and cut off the top (about an inch thick) and set aside. 2) Cut a straight line all the way up the remainder of the roll. 3) Use this cut to tighten the roll to roll it thinner and tape on top and bottom to hold it in place. 4) Allow child to decorate the roll with paint, markers, stickers, etc. 5) Tape strands of thin light decorative ribbon or streamers along the inside of the small ring you cut off earlier. 6) Tape the ring on top of the thinner roll to make the wand. 7) BREATHE and notice what you notice.