We live in the age of technology and distractions are everywhere – video games, cell phones, television, hand-held devices, and more. With the constant bombardment of technology, our children can easily become overstimulated and overwhelmed.
Teaching our children to be mindful and present in the moment can help them to gain control over their emotions and give them the tools they need to control impulses. Practicing mindfulness can lead to greater self-awareness, aid in the development of coping skills, improved emotional intelligence, and greater empathy for others. Taking the time to learn mindfulness skills at an early age will benefit our Cloverbuds throughout their lifespan.
Cloverbuds need to know that it is okay to take time for yourself. It is okay to take time out and just chill. Here are some activities that you can use to help your Cloverbuds calm themselves and just be present in the moment.
Deep Breathing – Cloverbuds can either sit on the floor or sit in a comfortable chair. If they are comfortable, they may close their eyes or just stare at the floor or the table without really focusing on anything in particular. You might want to play soft music or nature sounds in the background. Tell them to take a deep breath through their nose and then softly breathe out through their nose. Have them focus on the breath going in and out. You might want to have them breath in to the count of three and breath out to the count of three, as you quietly count to three in the background. Deep breathing helps the child to become more aware of their thoughts and should help to calm them. Do this for several minutes to help the children relax.
Shake it Out – Sometimes children may become frustrated or anxious and don’t know how to deal with their feelings. It can be helpful to just stop where they are, breathe deep, and quietly shake their arms or legs for a few minutes to shake out the anxiety or frustration. This helps them to focus on calming themselves so they can move forward.
Attitude of Gratitude – Have your Cloverbuds take a few deep breaths to center themselves. Then go around the group and have each child name something for which they are thankful. Children will learn to appreciate what they have and be thankful for the small things.
Explore Nature – Take your Cloverbuds on a nature walk. Ask them to walk quietly and think about what they hear, see, and smell. Find a quiet place to sit and talk about what they experienced. What did they notice that was new or different? Help them to develop a deeper appreciation for nature and the world around us.
Make a Stress (Sensory) Bottle – You will need a water bottle for each child, glitter, baby oil or vegetable oil, food coloring, small objects (buttons, small toys, beads, sequins, rocks, etc.) to drop in the bottle, funnel (to make it easier to add water and oil to the bottle), hot glue gun (to seal the lid). Give each child a bottle filled about two-thirds with water. Add food coloring (optional) and gently shake to mix. Fill the remainder of the bottle with oil. Ask your Cloverbuds to choose a few of the items to drop into the water. You might want to help them if they decide to add glitter. Once the child has added their objects, use the hot glue gun (adults should do this step) to seal the bottle. When a child is feeling anxious or overwhelmed, they can sit quietly and gently move the bottom upside down and right-side up to watch the items gently floating in the water. This helps them to focus and calm themselves.
These are just a few of the techniques that you can use to teach mindfulness to your Cloverbuds. Other options might include simple yoga poses, coloring, drawing, reading a story together, or just talking about what is going on in their lives.
For Cloverbuds (and the rest of us), mindfulness is about learning it’s okay to take a few minutes for yourself and just sit quietly. Mindfulness is about centering yourself and finding relief from the chaos. Mindfulness is about being present and appreciating the world around us. Mindfulness is about remembering to just breathe.