Teaching your kid how to be mindful is hard. Even teaching yourself how to be mindful is hard, especially in a world where there are screens in every restaurant and a phone in every hand.
We move so quickly through our days–from school drop-off, to work, to soccer practice, to dinner, to bedtime–that it’s difficult to even allow moments to take a breath, to pause and reflect, or to simply enjoy a silly moment together.
Luckily, there are some modern-day tricks I’ve come across to make your mindful mommying a little bit easier. I use these tools on a regular basis with my kiddo to create the foundation for what I hope will be a life of reflection, awareness, and self-compassion. No pressure or anything.
Even though many of them involve screens or electronics, I feel that they harness my child’s innate motivation to play and interact with these things while providing some value beyond simply entertainment.
Quite possibly the most ingenious video game series ever created, the Mightier system is essentially biofeedback masquerading as a video game. For my son, video games are the holy grail, which means he actually has built in motivation to use this tool and practice heart-rate regulation.
The little-kid sized wearable straps onto the wrist to monitor heart rate while kids navigate their way through adorable, age-appropriate games like “Fruit Ninja” and “Kitty in the Box”. The games are synchronized with the monitor so that they become more difficult to play if the child’s heart rate gets into the “red zone”. They can use a simple breathing technique that the game teaches with a fun bear cartoon to get their breathing back down into the “blue zone”.
My kiddo and I have gone through some bumpy times together, and I wanted to find a resource that could teach him the basic tools for getting through tough times in language he could understand.
I came across the GoZen programs and was immediately impressed by how simply they break down the otherwise complex psychological causes of stress and anxiety. Using a cute story about aliens sent to Earth to help the “humanoids” learn happiness tools, each short video teaches simple but powerful techniques for counteracting negative thinking, increasing self-esteem, and adapting to change. I wish I had these tools as a kid.
I absolutely love this sweet and simple series of meditation exercises for children. The CD has several meditations that progress from very basic fundamentals of meditation to more specific scenarios, like feeling anxious before a test. The book that accompanies it is mostly for parents to follow along and understand how to best guide their child through the exercises.
I started out having my son practice the first meditation whenever he got home from school. At first he was enthusiastic, but then started to get resistant to having to do his meditation every day when he got home. Not wanting to turn him off to meditation altogether, I started simply putting this on in the car and letting him choose whether or not he wanted to tune in. Sure enough, I catch him closing his eyes and following along in the rear-view!
Another frog and another favorite, The Mindful Frog features a silly Aussie protagonist named Simon who goes on fun adventures in nature and learns lessons about mindfulness along the way. The episodes often come along with science facts, which my kiddo loves, and the lessons focus on being in the moment and experiencing what is right in front of you, right now.
I simply downloaded the episodes to my podcast app and let my kiddo put them on when he wants. I was thrilled to see that he loves them and often chooses this podcast when we’re on a long ride or when he’s taking his evening bath.
This book is chock full of fun, simple games to play with your kiddo that involve yoga poses, feelings, breathing exercises, and more. Everything can be adapted to younger or older kids, and typically don’t need any prep.
My son’s favorite in this book is a breathing exercise that involves using straws and ping pong balls. This usually turns into a race or hockey game, but I don’t mind as long as the seeds are planted!
All of these mindful tools put together create a pretty powerful practice for a little person. While they may not look like traditional tools for creating a mindful environment, they serve to open up a dialogue between me and my son about what it means to be mindful, to feel your breath, to go slow, and to experience your life as fully as possible.
I hope they can do the same for you and your little one!
A millennial mama with an adventurous spirit, recently returned to the states from another life in Thailand with her little boy. She writes about her trials and triumphs as a single mother and a human attempting to live an authentic life.