Mindful Play for Kids

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Mindfulness and kids. You wouldn't think the two would go together but they do! I actually teach primary school children - 5 to 12 year olds - mindfulness in a school. To be honest when I started I didn't think they'd be able to be "mindful", especially the youngest ones, but they can! And they do! 

Being mindful isn't only sitting cross-legged, chanting "ommm" as you meditate. It can be, but that's not all. Mindfulness at it's core is really about being intentional - it's focussed attention, without judgement, to the present moment and actually kids can do this better than adults sometimes!

When a child is searching in their Where's Wally book (Where's Waldo for the Americans) they're actually being mindful! When they're playing a memory game - remembering what each tile is and where they are as they're searching for their pair, they're mindful. Or when they are putting together a puzzle - observing the shapes, the colours, the patterns - or when they are colouring or drawing - or maybe building a model airplane or ship, focussed completely on the task at hand, these are all mindfulness exercises. 

In these moments they are teaching their minds to focus, to pull away from distractions to what they are doing. In doing so they are actually strengthening the part of their brain used for memory and learning. How cool is that?! 

What mindfulness games do your kids do? Or what games can you think of that are mindful?

Next time your child needs something to do think of a mindfulness activity. If your child struggles with focussing and easily gets distracted, find a mindful game that they'll enjoy and they won't even realise that they are being taught something! Each time they get distracted yet turn back to their game congratulate them for their focus and they'll be encouraged even more to come back to the task at hand, both in the game but also in their school learning!

Another way your child can be mindful is taking them outdoors to "explore" - this is what I called it for my two boys when they were younger. We'd explore the bush, the areas around where we walked, the sky, the garden. We'd search for the tiniest creature, the strangest shaped leaves, the weirdest bird, the most colourful feather. It didn't matter what we were searching for it was in the search the learning and brain development was taking place. 

Without realising it my boys were being mindful. They were paying attention to the now moment, observing life in its finest detail. Focussed. Intentional. Not judging simply being fully present. 

Mindfulness can be fun! Let your kids become skilled at mindfulness by the time they're your age by getting them to practise now through their play. These are just a few ways they can easily start mindfulness. Can you think of more? 

 

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