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Children's Mental Health Week: Mindfulness exercises for kids

by Rhiannon Haggar on February 02, 2021
With it being Children’s Mental Health Week, we wanted to get involved as bringing happiness to kids and families is at the very heart of what we do. 
Although we tend to associate adults and teens with getting anxious or stressed, kids often get overwhelmed also. So we spoke to Linda, a friend of ours who’s also a children’s psychiatrist to give us some tips on how to help reduce kids stresses and anxieties. 
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Drop anchor:

For this exercise stand across from your little one and ask them to place their feet firmly on the floor. Ask them to push their weight down through their feet and have the conversation surrounding how their leg muscles feel as they do this. Ask them to draw attention to the different parts of their body, noting how it feels. Then finish the exercise by drawing the focus to what’s happening around them; the sound of a clock, the traffic outside, the smell of food. This simple exercise helps them to refocus their attention, reducing any anxieties they may have felt!
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Mindful bite:

Often meal times can be a bit chaotic in a busy household, however taking 5 mins to enjoy a quiet midafternoon snack with your little one can be a great tool. To do this it’s all about eating the snack slowly and asking them about the taste, how it smells, and the food's texture. Again, it’s all about regaining focus and taking a moment to pause and slow down a little. 
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Take in the environment:

This may seem like an obvious one, but even the best of us can find ourselves getting tunnel vision. The same applies for kids, if they feel anxious, that may be all they can think about for that period of time! Going outside into nature and really taking the time to discuss what’s happening around them is a great method of mindfulness. Ask them to point out what they can hear, see or smell. Or even stay indoors and ask them to see if they can find any shapes in the clouds that resemble an animal! 
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Share the worries:

Ask your little one to share the worries that are going through their mind, or sometimes even the simple act of writing them down on paper can help elevate some anxieties. There’s a wonderful book called Silly Billy by Anothony Browne, about a boy who has lots of worries and he doesn’t know what to do with them. Within this book his family give him a set of ‘worry dolls’ that he can tell all his anxieties too. We’d highly recommend the book and the worry dolls can be purchased online. Alternatively for younger kids having a designated toy that your little one can tell their worries too can also help.  
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Breathe:

Taking a couple of minutes in the morning to get your child to focus on their breathing is a great way to start the day. To make it more fun, ask your kid to lie down and rest a book on their tummy. Ask them to observe the book moving as they breathe in and out! Or as they get older simply ask them to observe the breath going in through their nose and out through their mouth! Parents, we’re looking at you - don’t forget to breathe also! 
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Gratitude:

This may be a cheesy one, but in times like this, we need a bit of cheesiness! See if you can make it a nightly habit to take a few minutes to go over all the things you and your kid are both thankful for. Whether that’s for having a good day of school/ work, for having a good friend or for having a tasty tea. This can help you both end the day on a positive note.
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Whilst these exercises may work for some kids, if they don’t there are plenty other tips out there. If you can’t find the time for them every day, don’t worry, we’re only human, but putting a few in to practice occasionally is a good start!
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