Mindfulness for young children

Mindfulness for Kids - Mindful

  • How to Meditate
  • Mindfulness Activities
  • Guided Meditation
  • Coping with Stress
  • Parenting Tips

How to Meditate with Your Kids

By teaching children meditation and mindfulness skills we help them increase their well-being and enable them to meet the stresses of the world with presence, self-compassion, and openness.

In order to help kids of all ages find their way into practicing mindfulness, it can be helpful to give them an easy definition they can relate to.

A Definition of Mindfulness Meditation for Children

Mindfulness meditation, at its simplest, is paying attention to what is happening in the present moment. It may be what you’re feeling, hearing, or anything else you notice. There’s no special place of calm you have to reach and it’s not about clearing your mind, it’s just an honest and kind look at what you’re experiencing in this moment. 

A Mindfulness Practice for Families

By Christopher Willard

One easy way to introduce mindfulness to your children is through informal practices that you can do along with them. Start with a simple kindness meditation—offering good wishes and compassion to others.

1. To begin, find a comfortable sitting position. You can even place a hand on the heart. Allow your eyes to close or lower your gaze toward the floor.

2. Bring to mind someone who you really respect and look up to, and who really loves you in return. 

3. Notice how you feel as you bring this person to mind.

4. Make a kind wish and send it their way. What would make them happy?

5. Next, bring to mind someone else you love and care about: A family member, a friend, a beloved colleague. Just bring this person to mind, sending this person a kind wish.

We’ll move from here to a more neutral person. Perhaps someone you don’t know very well: A parent you see occasionally in the pick-up line, a person who delivers your mail, or makes your coffee in the morning. Just bring this person to mind and imagine yourself sending them some kind of kind wish.

6. Lastly, bring to mind someone who has frustrated you lately, someone who is a little difficult. Send this last person a kind wish—something nice for them in their life.

7. Check in with your mind and body as you conclude this practice. Allow your eyes to open if they’ve been closed. Notice if there’s any shift

Why Teach Mindfulness to Children?

When we teach mindfulness to kids, we give them the tools they need to build confidence, cope with stress, and relate to uncomfortable or challenging moments. The earlier we do so in their young lives, the greater the opportunity to help them cultivate resilience and develop and refine their mindfulness practice as they mature.

Teaching mindfulness to kids can also help shape three critical skills developed in early childhood: paying attention and remembering information, shifting back and forth between tasks, and behaving appropriately with others. These abilities are known as executive functions and they are essential for more advanced tasks like planning, reasoning, problem-solving, and positive social relationships.

There Benefits of Mindfulness for Kids

Studies show that the benefits of mindfulness for kids may include:

1. Increased focus, attention, self-control, classroom participation, compassion.

2. Improved academic performance, ability to resolve conflict, overall well-being.

3. Decreased levels of stress, depression, anxiety, disruptive behavior.

Mindfulness Activities for Kids

To introduce the idea of mindfulness more directly to your kids, you can use exercises that encourage them to tune into their senses. Make a game out of eating a snack very slowly, savoring the smell, texture, and taste. Or, dive into an afternoon of glitter jar making with any variety of materials: glitter, different-coloured beads, food colouring and oil, pieces of lego. The DIY craft doubles as a creative exercise and a mindfulness tool to represent the mind settling.

An Appreciation Practice for Children

By Susan Kaiser Greenland

Leading the game:

  1. Ask your child: “Do you ever feel disappointed by something or someone?”
  2. Ask: “How did that make you feel?”
    Acknowledge their feelings and, if appropriate, talk about them.
  3. Say something like: “I bet even when you’re feeling disappointed there are good things happening in your life, too. Let’s name three good things together.”

Tips for naming three good things:

  1. Remind your child that the point of this game isn’t to pretend they’re not upset when they feel upset. It’s to remember that they can feel two things at once: they can feel grateful for good things while feeling sad, hurt, or disappointed by challenges.
  2. If children or teens have trouble thinking of three good things on their own, brainstorm and help them discover some.
  3. When kids understand that this game is not about sweeping their feelings under the rug, the phrase “three good things” can become a playful and humorous response to the minor gripes that show up in family life.
  4. Parents can encourage kids to remind them to name Three Good Things when they’re stuck on a trivial disappointment or minor annoyance, too.
  5. To develop a habit of thankfulness, play Three Good Things around the dinner table, before bedtime, and at other times when the family is together.

Guided Mindfulness Meditation for Children

Once your child is comfortable with the idea of meditation, you can offer them tools to refine their own practice. Here are three guided practices developed for kids. Feel free to join your child in these meditations if it helps encourage focus.

An 8-Minute Practice to Notice Positive Moments

A Mindfulness Practice for Kids: Coming Back to the Positive—From Dr. Mark Bertin

  • 8:00
  1. Lie down somewhere comfortable. Let your arms and legs fall to the ground. Close your eyes gently.
  2. Start to notice how your body changes with each breath you take. Each time you breathe, your belly moves up, and your belly moves down. If it is easier, put a hand on your belly. Or if you want, put a stuffed animal there.
  3. Each time you breathe, your belly moves. Your hand, or your toy, rises, and then falls. See if you can count ten breaths that way. Breathing in, one, breathing out, one.
  4. When you lose count, don’t worry about it. That’s normal, and happens to everyone. Come back to whatever number you last remember.
  5. Now, shift your attention to your day. Breathing in, focus on your breath as your belly goes up. Breathing out, focus on something that went well today.
  6. With each breath: breathing in, noticing your belly move, and with each breath out, noticing something that went well today.
  7. Now, picture something about yourself that makes you proud. Breathing in, focus on your belly moving. Breathing out, picture something that makes you proud of yourself. If nothing comes to mind, that sometimes happens. If that’s how you feel, picture what you’d wish for yourself instead.
  8. Finally, bring someone to mind who makes you happy. Before we end, try one more practice. Breathing in, notice your belly move. And now, breathing out, picture someone who makes you happy.
  9. As you come to the end of this practice, take a few deep breaths, and start to wiggle your arms and legs. Pause and decide what you’d like to do next.
  10. It’s normal to have thoughts that make us feel scared or bad. We should never ignore anything important, but it’s useful to focus on the rest of our lives too. Take a few minutes every day to notice what has gone well, and see what happens next.

Guided Audio Practices for Kids

1.  A Meditation for Preschoolers

This guided practice will help you teach your child the basics of mindfulness by drawing on the elements of nature. Follow along as your child observes their experience and explores their strength within.

Be Like Nature: Mindfulness for Preschoolers—From Scott Rogers

  • 4:00


A Meditation for Young Kids

A body scan meditation is a great way to help your child bring attention to the present moment—especially when emotions or thoughts are overwhelming. They’ll learn to explore sensations in the body while bringing calmness, attention, and appreciation to daytime routines or bedtime rituals.

A Calming Body Scan: Mindfulness for Kids—From Dr. Mark Bertin

  • 11:39

3. A Meditation for Teens

Preadolescents and teens can practice mindfulness the same way as adults. Although, practices geared toward this age group often feature language that is more engaging to them. Here is an 8-minute practice, appropriate for older kids, that uses counting breaths to cultivate mindful awareness.

Count Your Breaths: Mindfulness for Teens—From Dr. Mark Bertin

  • 8:13

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Helping Kids Cope with Stress

Mindfulness practice can offer your child stress management strategies to calm their nervous system. Below are a few kid-friendly breathing techniques you can demonstrate and do with them.

5 Mindful Breath Practices for Children

1. Belly Breathing

When breathing in, the belly expands slightly; and when breathing out, it contracts. Do several rounds and return to normal breathing.

2. Mindful Breathing

Simply notice the breath and feel it move in the body. You can add visuals and words to make the practice more engaging. For example, on the in-breath ask your child to repeat the phrase, I am a lake and on the out-breath, I am calm. This technique can be adapted to use any visual and taps into the power of imagination.

3. Teddy Bear Breath

This is a great variation of the belly-breathing practice for little ones. Have them lie down with a teddy or stuffed animal on their belly, and let them watch as it moves up and down while they breathe, as if they are rocking it to sleep.

4. Four Square Breathing

This practice is a useful tool for older children. Breathe in for a count of four. Hold the breath for a count of four. Breathe out for a count of four. Hold the breath for a count of four. Do several rounds and return to normal breathing.

5. Basic Breath Ball Practice

You can use a Hoberman sphere—a geodesic dome that can be folded and unfolded—to teach your child basic breath awareness. The toy can be referred to as a breath ball because the dome’s movements mimic the movements of breathing: as the dome folds inward, we imagine the out-breath contracting; as the dome expands, we imagine the lungs expanding on the in-breath.

1. Using both hands, gently hold the breathing ball in front of your belly.

2. Hold one square on opposite sides of the sphere’s surface.

3. Take a deep breath in. As your belly expands, let the ball expand with it. 

4. Breathe in fairly slowly, maybe holding momentarily at the top of the breath as you fully expand the ball.

5. As you breath out, allow the sphere to contract to its smallest size.

6. Repeat a few times. You might even count along in a rhythm.

Mindful Parenting Tips

By Elisha Goldstein and Stephanie Goldstein

It’s important to follow the oxygen mask principle: put your own mask on first, before you help your child. The more we discover how to be mindful ourselves, the more we can turn to mindful parenting strategies and appreciate our children’s capacity to be present in each moment.

There’s an inner skill set called for in parenting—an awareness of what is, what’s changing, and what matters going forward. In day-to-day life, take the time you need to notice your own feelings, pause before responding, and practice listening. 

7 Things Mindful Families Do Differently

1. Embrace Imperfection

You are going to make mistakes, you are going to hurt your children’s feelings, and you are not going to be able to show up in all the ways you want to or the ways your children want you to, but none of that makes you a bad parent—it only makes you a human one. When you can move into a place of acceptance of this you are able to shift into a greater ease and grace within yourself.

2. Listen with Curiosity

When we pause and listen to each other more in our lives, we can engage the experiences in our family with a growth mindset. We can see the struggles and triumphs as opportunities for learning and growth. Instead of judging each other, we can get better at recognizing when we don’t understand where the other person is coming from, lean in with curiosity and say, “tell me more.” Or we might try and stand in their shoes to understand their perspective by asking ourselves, “why might they be acting this way?”

3. Communicate Courageously

Being clear and honest with each other about what you need and how you feel is ultimately an act of kindness that creates trust and connection. This means showing up with our partners and kids with an open heart and an open mind. It builds on listening with curiosity and creates space for everyone to feel comfortable to share how they feel and what they need.

4. Practice Appreciation and Gratitude

While words of affirmation may or may not be your primary love language, we all want to be seen and appreciated and there’s a surprisingly simple way of doing this that can have huge benefits—intentionally practicing being appreciative and expressing gratitude to one another. By taking the time to acknowledge our kids or our partner when they empty the dishwasher or are ready on time, we can shift the culture of the household from demanding and frustrated to cooperative and grateful

5. Forgive Ourselves and Each Other

In practicing mindfulness we come to understand that our mistakes aren’t signs of failing at being a human. Instead, they are opportunities for learning about the inevitable pitfalls of life, what gets in our way and understanding the optimal route to get back into a space of balance and connection.

The simple phrase of “forgive, investigate and invite” can be enormously helpful. If we have transgressed, we can set the intention to “forgive” ourselves for this wrongdoing, understanding that we can’t change the past, remembering that we aren’t perfect, and realizing that we often make mistakes out of ignorance, confusion or upset feelings.

6. Practice Support and Generosity

Our kids are always watching us, learning how to be in the world and modeling our behaviors. So it’s important that we model this way of being in the world and include them in these acts as often as possible. Want some ideas? You can consider getting involved in service projects at a local school or organization. You can encourage your kids to make pictures or cards for their grandparents or someone who is ill. These small or large acts are the essential healing agent within the family system, our culture, and the world. Ultimately, connection is the cornerstone of well-being and it starts in the family.

7. Remember to Play and Have Fun

It seems silly to say that any of us would forget to have fun and enjoy each other but it’s more common than you think. Raising children is probably the most important job you will ever be tasked with and the pressure of raising good humans can be weighty. So much so that we can fall into a pattern of taking things too seriously and being overly focused on tasks (chores, homework, activities, etc. ) that we lose the enjoyment of being together.

Mindfulness for Children - Well Guides

By David Gelles

Illustrations by Sam Kalda

Children of all ages can benefit from mindfulness, the simple practice of bringing a gentle, accepting attitude to the present moment. It can help parents and caregivers, too, by promoting happiness and relieving stress. Here, we offer basic tips for children and adults of all ages, as well as several activities that develop compassion, focus, curiosity and empathy. And remember, mindfulness can be fun.

What Is Mindfulness, and Why Do Kids Need It?

From our earliest moments, mindfulness can help minimize anxiety and increase happiness. 

How It Helps

Adversity comes at us from the moment we are born. Infants get hungry and tired. Toddlers grapple with language and self-control. And as children develop through adolescence to become teenagers, life grows ever more complicated. Developing relationships, navigating school and exercising independence — the very stuff of growing up — naturally creates stressful situations for every child.  

At each developmental stage, mindfulness can be a useful tool for decreasing anxiety and promoting happiness. Mindfulness — a simple technique that emphasizes paying attention to the present moment in an accepting, nonjudgmental manner — has emerged as a popular mainstream practice in recent decades. It is being taught to executives at corporations, athletes in the locker room, and increasingly, to children both at home and in school.

Early Habits

Children are uniquely suited to benefit from mindfulness practice. Habits formed early in life will inform behaviors in adulthood, and with mindfulness, we have the opportunity to give our children the habit of being peaceful, kind and accepting. 

“For children, mindfulness can offer relief from whatever difficulties they might be encountering in life,” said Annaka Harris, an author who teaches mindfulness to children. “It also gives them the beauty of being in the present moment.”

Part of the reason why mindfulness is so effective for children can be explained by the way the brain develops. While our brains are constantly developing throughout our lives, connections in the prefrontal circuits are created at their fastest rate during childhood. Mindfulness, which promotes skills that are controlled in the prefrontal cortex, like focus and cognitive control, can therefore have a particular impact on the development of skills including self-regulation, judgment and patience during childhood.

Modeling Mindfulness

Mindfulness isn’t something that can be outsourced. For parents and caregivers, the best way to teach a child to be mindful is to embody the practice oneself.

“Learning mindfulness isn’t like piano lessons, where you can have someone else teach it to your children,” said Susan Kaiser Greenland, a mindfulness instructor who works with children. “You have to learn it yourself.”

Of course, being a parent is an incredibly stressful experience in its own right. For those raising children, practicing mindfulness exercises — and ideally practicing mindfulness meditation for even a few minutes a day — can be profoundly beneficial, allowing caregivers to not only share the skills of happiness and acceptance with a new generation, but also take better care of themselves at the same time.

“In order to play the game of life mindfully,” said Sumi Loundon Kim, a Buddhist chaplain at Duke University who works with youth, “you have to practice mindfulness.”

More On Mindfulness for Children


Even the youngest children can sense distraction. So work on being present.

Right From the Start

During the first year of life, the most effective way to share mindfulness with a child is to embody it. Children are hungry for our attention and affection, and can sense when parents or caregivers are distracted. So when you are with an infant, try to stay in the present moment no matter what is happening. 

In practice, this can be as simple as holding a baby quietly and maintaining eye contact with a gentle, loving demeanor. “When the baby gazes at the parent, the parent can gaze back,” said Ms. Kim. “That kind of reflective mirroring behavior is a good way of teaching infancy mindfulness.” 

Smartphones are popular, but distracting. Mindfulness teachers encourage parents and caregivers to put down the phone and engage with a baby, even if it’s simply making eye contact and smiling. “Instead of scrolling through email, put down the device and be fully present and attentive,” said Ms. Kim.

Mothers and other caretakers have an opportunity to practice this several times a day, when feeding their babies. “When you’re with your child, where’s your attention?” said Jessica Morey, founder of Inward Bound Mindfulness Education, a nonprofit that brings mindfulness training to youth. “That starts even from breast feeding.”

Stay Calm

When infants do become upset, try not to let that make you agitated. Doing so can trigger an unhelpful cycle where parent and child are each feeding off each other’s unhappiness. “Parents and children really co-regulate each other,” said Ms. Greenland. “As the child starts screaming, if the parents escalates, too, they ratchet each other up.”

When You Are Feeling Frustrated

For parents or caregivers who find themselves upset and out of touch with the present moment, a popular mindfulness exercise known as S. T.O.P. can be helpful.

  • Stop. Just take a momentary pause, no matter what you’re doing. 
  • Take a breath. Feel the sensation of your own breathing, which brings you back to the present moment. 
  • Observe. Acknowledge what is happening, for good or bad, inside you or out. Just note it. 
  • Proceed. Having briefly checked in with the present moment, continue with whatever it was you were doing. 


Being mindful is simple, but it’s not always easy. Especially when spending time with infants, there can be many moments when caregiving is, well, boring. “There’s nursing, there’s diapering, there’s feeding,” said Ms. Kim. “That’s about it.” 

If you find your mind wandering, one way for parents to re-engage with mindfulness is to move, either performing gentle yoga when the baby isn’t being held, or trying out a walking meditation.

“Too much of the mindfulness work is really oriented towards staying still,” says Ms. Greenland. “If your nervous system is riled up, many people, especially those new to practice, are better with moving.”

Thankful With Every Step

For parents with infants, it can be useful to cultivate a sense of gratitude. This exercise, like others in this guide, is adapted from "Mindful Games," an activity card set created by Ms. Greenland and Ms. Harris.   

First, find a space where you can safely and comfortably walk indoors while holding your child. If you’re not feeling particularly happy, that’s okay. The point of this exercise is not to magically feel better. It is to experience the sensation of moving and to focus your attention on the sensation of holding a baby and walking, and to focus on the feeling of gratitude. 

Holding the baby safely and then turn your gaze downward and begin walking slowly and deliberately. Notice the feeling in each foot as you step. Do you feel the heel of your foot, the ball of your foot and your toes? Parents naturally feel a range of emotions when holding a child, from deep love to being intensely overwhelmed and anxiety. If paying attention to your body makes you uncomfortable for any reason, you can try listening to sounds as you walk instead. Simply listening to the orchestra of sounds while walking slowly — from the rustling of your clothes as you move, to singing birds, to the everyday activity of your home — can be a calming break from the constant caretaking required for an infant.

Then, every time you take a step, think of how much you appreciate your child, feeling their warmth as you hold them. Silently repeat phrases that capture your gratitude for the experience, such as “I’m thankful that I can hold you,” or “I’m thankful that you’re smiling right now.”

Next try sending yourself and your baby well-wishes with each step. Caring for an infant can be deeply exhausting, as all of your energy, day and night, is being devoted to another human being. It’s an especially important time to be kind to yourself. Every time you take a step, send yourself and your baby a wish. (You can use these wishes or create personal ones in your own words. )

  • May we be happy. 
  • May we be healthy and strong.
  • May we sleep well soon. 
  • May this exhausting time together make our bond stronger. 
  • May we have compassion for each other.

As you turn around and retrace your steps, think of the ways your life is better because of your child and continue the exercise. Remember that at times, infants and caregivers can co-regulate. If a caregiver is feeling agitated, his or her walking slowly and deliberately, with a focus on something other than the baby being upset and worrying about how he or she will get the baby to calm down, will settle the caregiver, which in turn may help regulate the baby.


Raising children between the ages of 2 and 4 can be incredibly rewarding and immensely challenging.

Moving On

In the course of months, toddlers discover language, gain control over their bodies and begin to exert their independence. Yet even at this young age, toddlers can begin to experience and understand mindfulness. When toddlers are in a good mood, mindfulness exercises can help them become more familiar with the sensations of happiness and gratitude. And when they get upset, mindfulness can help toddlers move on from the fleeting experiences that might have made them cry, and instead focus their attention on new, less upsetting sensations. This shift moves “their attention away from whatever it is they’re worrying about, to a present moment experience such as the feeling of their own breath,” said Ms. Greenland. “We don’t pretend that the bad isn’t happening, but let’s also think about three good things that are happening right now, too.” 

The most effective way to bring mindfulness to toddlers is, of course, to embody it. “When I think about mindfulness for children, I think of family culture,” said Ms. Kim. “The emphasis needs to be on the parents.”

From the time your children are young, try to instill good habits of attention in them by practicing them yourself. Here are some things to try: 

  • Don’t look at your phone too often when your children are around. 
  • Spend time doing activities that promote focus, creativity and inquiry — such as reading, making art and having conversations — rather than watching a lot of TV. 
  • Treat other people — especially your children — kindly, even when you are frustrated and upset. 
  • And express gratitude for the things in your life you feel thankful for. 

“We’re not even aware how many times we’re checking our phone, how many times we’re at our computer with our backs turned,” said Ms. Kim. “We are phenomenally distracted and we are demonstrating those habits to our children. A prerequisite for cultivating mindfulness is looking at our habits of distraction and working to change those.”

Breathing Exercises

Even with the best of intentions, raising toddlers isn’t easy. The exercise described above, known as S.T.O.P., can be helpful in challenging moments.  

In addition, getting to know our bodies is an essential part of mindfulness practice. This starts with our breath. Breathing exercises can help you become more familiar with the rhythms of your body.

Try this one and, after, think about how it might be useful in your life — maybe when you’re tired, or when you’re feeling worried about something?

Breathing With a Pinwheel

This exercise allows us to see how different ways of breathing affect how our mind and bodies feel.  

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Mindful Seeing



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Young Children

Don’t make mindfulness seem like something only to be used in times of trouble — present it as a tool to be used in a variety of situations.

Being Mindful Every Day

As children develop into early childhood, they become capable not only of practicing mindfulness with the guidance of a parent or caregiver, but also of retaining some of these skills and turning to them in times of need. “By around age 4 they are able to learn skills that they can utilize on their own,” said Ms. Greenland. 

To instill these habits in children, practice is key. Don’t make mindfulness something that is turned to only in times of stress. Instead, make mindfulness exercises a regular part of the daily routine, an activity in and of itself, just like reading, playing outside or making art. And rather than making mindfulness seem as if it is only as an antidote to irritating situations, present it as a tool that can help children explore new sensations, including those that are pleasant, neutral and unfamiliar. 

“Use it as a tool to explore kindness and curiosity,” said Ms. Morey. “Ask children what they feel in their bodies.”

Parents can also continue to embody mindfulness, and should feel comfortable meditating in front of their children. “It’s a wonderful practice for parents, too, to meditate in the midst of whatever is going on,” said Ms. Harris. “The children may not have any concept of what we’re doing when we meditate, but they’re mimicking the behavior and they’re interested.”

Seeing Clearly

A glitter ball can help us understand the connection between mind and body.

Teaching Forgiveness

As children grow older and become more independent, parents and caregivers grapple with a loss of control. When children are in school and out with friends, there’s simply less a parent can do to influence the lives of their children. And when setbacks occur, as they inevitably will, it is important for parents to meet those misfortunes with mindfulness. 

Rather than getting hung up on whatever the problem is, note it and address it, but at the same time recognize that it is fleeting and will pass. If it is the child who misbehaved, make an effort to forgive them. 

And if the parent or caregiver is blaming themselves, they should work on self-forgiveness, too. “Wisdom doesn’t come from being perfect,” said Ms. Greenland. “Wisdom comes from being present.”

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Mindful Breathing by Annaka Harris



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Read More on Mindfulness

Older Children

Children can benefit from mindfulness to adjust as they move through school — and start to experience a wider world.

In School

As children move through elementary and middle school, mindfulness can be a powerful tool, allowing them to deal with adversity more skillfully, and also enhance their understanding of the world and themselves. “Everything can be received and met with this kind curiosity,” said Ms. Morey. “That can then translate into their own self attitude, giving them space to figure out what they want to do with their lives and who they are.”

At this age, mindfulness practice can also help children in school. A recent study found that fourth and fifth graders who took a four-month meditation program demonstrated improvements in cognitive control, working memory and math test scores. Other studies have shown that mindfulness can be especially helpful to children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and also reduce children’s aggression, anxiety and stress. And around the country, many educational institutions — from elementary schools to graduate programs — are bringing mindfulness training into the classroom.

Pass the Cup

By passing a cup full of water without spilling a drop, we can cultivate attention and learn about teamwork.

Relieve the Pressure

Even with mindfulness, parenting can still be a challenge. As children experience the natural highs and lows that are part of growing up, it is all too easy — even natural — for the parent be buffeted by the child’s emotional roller coaster. But in time, mindfulness practice can relieve parents and caregivers from some of the pressure of identifying with every up or down the child experiences.  

“That’s where this sense of not having strong grip on a sense of self is so important,” said Ms. Greenland. “Not only do they worry about the kids, but they worry that kids are a reflection on them. It gets conflated. If the kid is acting out or not going to Harvard, then the parent worries that that is a reflection on them.”

A simple exercise, known as R.A.I.N., can help us stay in the present moment and not get caught up clinging to the experiences of others, or our own emotions. 

  • R: Recognize. Acknowledge what is happening, just noting it in a calm and accepting manner.
  • A: Accept. Allow life to be just as it is, without trying to change it right away, and without wishing it were different somehow. 
  • I: Investigate. See how it feels, whether it is making you upset or happy, giving you pleasure or pain, just note it. 
  • N: Non-Identification. Realize that the sensations you are feeling make for a fleeting experience, one that will soon pass. It isn’t who you are.

More on Mindfulness in Schools


Teenagers can experience mindfulness in much the same way as adults, but they may also show resistance or frustration with the practice. 

Mindful Together

For teenagers, one of the most important ways to engage with mindfulness is through a focus on relationships: Bringing a mindful attitude into conversations, friendships and even budding romances. “Relational mindfulness becomes a very important part of the practice,” said Ms. Greenland. In each relationship, and even each interaction, there should be an effort to stay present, listen carefully and speak with honesty and kindness. 

For families, one way to ritualize this is to make a point of having dinners together, something that is all too easy to lose track of when schedules get overstuffed. “It’s simple, but actually having sit down dinners can be powerful, just actually checking in,” said Ms. Morey. “Try each sharing a joyful moment that happened during the day.

Also, try to minimize distractions by putting phones and other devices away during mealtime. And try to share a moment of silence before you eat, taking time to be grateful for the company of your family. 

Being a Present Parent

For parents, too, this can be a challenging time to practice mindfulness with children. After all, if a teenager is lost in his or her smartphone, what does it matter if the parent is surfing the web, too? But that’s exactly when the parent needs to be mindful the most, modeling good behavior for their child — staying kind, compassionate and accepting in the present moment.

“It’s hard to remember to be mindful when you have this busy personal and professional life,” said Ms. Kim. “But if we learn to see the act of parenting as a practice itself, it can open up a whole other level of what we’re doing.”

Melting Ice

Holding a cube of ice can help us learn the difference between a feeling and a reaction.  

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Friendly Wishes by Annaka Harris



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Meditation for Real Life

Additional Reading/Resources

Here’s a selection of our favorite books about mindfulness for kids and parents. 

Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting 

Authored by Myla Kabat-Zinn and her husband Jon, the founder of mindfulness based stress reduction, this is a comprehensive guide to mindful parenting. 

The Mindful Child 

Written by Ms. Greenland, this is a helpful guide for parents that includes techniques to help children develop mindfulness.

Mindful Games 

Created by Ms. Greenland and Ms. Harris, this activity card set was the inspiration for several exercises in this guide.

Sitting Still Like a Frog

This book, written by Eline Snel, features exercises that can help children deal with anxiety, improve concentration and handle difficult emotions.

A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen monk, wrote this guide for parents who want to introduce their children to mindfulness and meditation. 

Sitting Together

A comprehensive guide to mindfulness for parents and children by Ms. Kim, this three-volume set includes a study guide for parents, lesson plans for children and an activity book. 

types and features - Academy of Development

Very often, in a fit of impulse, parents can not stand it and fill up a small child with reproaches and accusations of absent-mindedness and forgetfulness. Remember how often you have to hear exclamations addressed to the baby: “What is in your head?”, “How can you be such a gaper?”, “Are you in the clouds again?”

Indeed, almost every day a child has to hear such claims addressed to him. An adult believes that a preschooler does not know how to direct his attention to the desired goal. Therefore, quite often, mothers and fathers give their child a “diagnosis” - absent-mindedness.

This situation needs to be sorted out. You can understand the essence of the problem by saying all your claims to the child, but not out loud. Happened? The answer to the question is very close and after such an experiment it becomes absolutely obvious. A child can concentrate, but his attention is focused on what is important to him, and not to an adult.

What is attention?

Attention is a mental process, which consists in the selection of the necessary information in a particular situation and the complete rejection of the unnecessary.

The bottom line is that external attention is focused on objects, personalities, phenomena surrounding a person, in addition to the actions of other people and changes. The child has this feature from the first days of life. The newborn reacts to the voice of his relatives, turns his head towards the source of the noise, and focuses his attention on his relatives.

The attention of young children, whose age is from 3 to 6 years, is focused on their experiences and feelings of the inner world. The maximum concentration of the baby's internal attention is achieved at the moment when the child seems to freeze and look intently at some object, but as if not seeing it. At such moments, the child does not react to the reproaches of adults, does not hear the speech addressed to him. It is these situations that adults call absent-mindedness.

Types of attention

Psychologists distinguish three types of attention.

  1. Involuntary attention does not require efforts that cause, fix and keep it, such a process arises by itself. Often such attention is caused by vivid experiences, noisy events. Interest quickly arises, but also quickly disappears. Since the subject that provoked such interest very quickly becomes commonplace and understandable. Thus, involuntary attention disappears.
  2. Voluntary attention is a type of attention that is especially important when the baby does not do what he wants, but performs those actions or tasks that are necessary. Often children give up their favorite or simply interesting activity in order to complete the necessary task. Psychologists directly link the level of speech development of children from 3 to 7 years old with the successful formation of this type of attention.
  3. Post-voluntary attention is a type of mental process that is formed from voluntary attention and combines the qualities and main characteristics of the previous two types. This happens at the stage when the preschooler is completely addicted to the game element or the task that interests him. The child does not make special efforts, efforts to focus on the implementation process. Thus, the child manifests post-voluntary attention.

Attention: basic properties

The main qualities and characteristics of the attention of preschoolers include: concentration, switchability, volume, stability, selectivity, distribution.

Concentration of attention is the ability to quickly focus on the subject, as well as to keep attention on the object as much as possible without succumbing to distractions.

The concentration of attention in preschool children is quite low, so you should work on its development. To achieve your goal, you need to choose the right exercises. You can form the necessary level of attention and its properties by enrolling the baby in courses to prepare children for school.

An exercise to improve concentration. With the baby, you should try to learn small poems. The first part of the rhyme must be learned with the TV turned on. The volume should be kept to a minimum. Learn the second quatrain with your child at a louder radio, TV or other source. You should try to memorize the final part of the verse by turning on the TV loudly enough.

Switchability is a property of attention, which consists in the ability to concentrate as quickly as possible on one, and then on a completely different subject or type of activity. It should be remembered that a small child during such a change feels and often demonstrates discontent and tension with his behavior. The older the child becomes, the less pronounced this feature is.

The amount of attention can be characterized by checking the number of objects that remain in the field of view and which the baby is following. At 5-6 years old, the child simultaneously accompanies and holds three or more objects in the field of view. The attention of the baby at this age is more formed, and he notices quite small details. Whereas at 4 years old he is able to follow only one object. Keep in mind that if the baby sees the subject for the first time, the amount of attention becomes much narrower. The difference is also manifested in the external characteristics of the images. If at the age of 3 a child pays attention to the bright features of objects, sizes, then at an older age such qualities become less important.

Sustainability is the duration of the period of concentration on the subject or activity. Psychologists believe that children 5 years old can focus on the process for up to 2 hours. If this is an interesting and entertaining game, the child can hold attention longer, and much less with a boring activity.

Selectivity of attention enables the preschooler to concentrate his attention on a more important process or object or on a separate stage of the action, which is necessary to solve the task.

Attention distribution is a feature due to which preschool children can successfully follow several objects or cope with several tasks at the same time.

According to researches, rational and quick distribution of attention requires additional development and training. Keep this in mind when working with kids. It is important to study the individual qualities and characteristics of the baby and not to forget about them in the process of working with the child. Don't try to achieve the impossible.

The necessary exercises and activities for preschoolers should be selected to ensure the gradual development of attention without causing any special feelings. It is required to rely on children's curiosity, as well as individuality of thinking, which will be especially useful in the learning process.

How to develop attention in a child

Starting from the age of three, the child enters a phase of active development. During this period, a small person begins to explore the world and develop.

To promote the natural development of a child, it is necessary to constantly give food for his young mind - play educational games. It is important for a child to acquire skills in a playful way, whether it is the development of imagination, speech, motor skills or attention.

It is the concentration of attention that helps the child to understand the sea of ​​information around, so this skill must be developed.

Article content:

  • What is attention
  • Peculiarities of attention in children
  • Attention games
  • Terminals

What is attention?

Attention is a directed, concentrated perception by a person of objects, phenomena, activities. Attention cannot exist by itself: you cannot just be attentive. Attention appears when a child is interested in something, whether it is an object, a story, or a game.

Of course, it is very important that the object of concentration of attention is interesting, but mindfulness can and should be trained and developed.

Peculiarities of attention in children

Children are characterized by natural curiosity and interest. It is interest in something new and unusual that makes the child focus his attention of his own free will. But not always classes can be interesting enough, but it is important for the child to remain concentrated on more boring work. These skills need to be trained. The ability to concentrate one's attention is the basis of easy learning and good assimilation of new knowledge.

Psychologists distinguish three types of attention:

  1. Involuntary attention. It manifests itself in the child's reaction to a saturated color (for example, red), a sudden sound, something unnatural, unusual. Such attention is attracted momentarily and occurs involuntarily. It is worth remembering that this type of attention predominates in preschool and primary school age.
  2. Voluntary attention is also called volitional or active attention. It is associated with the conscious and intentional concentration of attention on an object or activity. This type of attention “turns on” in a child not when it comes to something interesting or enjoyable, but about something necessary. Voluntary attention requires perseverance and discipline. It is finally formed before the age of 7, because it is the basis of education at school.
  3. Postvoluntary attention. It is based on interest and desire to continue the activity that was started thanks to voluntary attention. This type of attention turns on when the child is fond of the game, doing something with pleasure and without stress.

The development of any skill for a child should be not only a useful exercise, but also an exciting game. Many games help develop mindfulness and other abilities, such as: motor skills, speech, fantasy. No wonder many teachers highlight the role of the game in the learning process. Play is a fun form of learning.

Attention development games

We have collected for you several ways to help your child develop their attention in a playful way. In all games, you can complicate and slightly change the rules - let the games be individual and special for your family and your child.

What has changed?

Place 3 to 5 toys in front of your child to play with. Give your child time to memorize the items, a minute will be enough for this. Say out loud the names of the objects and their order. Then ask the baby to turn away or close his eyes (don't peep!) and make changes: you can swap objects, remove or replace toys. The child will be tasked with identifying what has changed and recounting the original sequence.

It is important to remember that this is primarily a game of attention, and not just training for short-term memory. In order to make the game more exciting, you can come up with some kind of story based on items. This will not only teach the baby to concentrate, but also show how to find a creative approach and develop imagination.

You can try to switch roles - let the child feel like a leader and change places, and you will need to guess the changes. Over time, you can complicate the task and introduce new rules.

Spot the Difference Game

The game uses two pictures - very similar at first glance, but with minor differences. The main goal of the game is to name all the differences. It is very important to name, to voice what you see, and not just to show in the picture.

Thanks to voicing, the child will not only develop attention, but also improve his speech, train in the use of such concepts as “right”, “lower”, “left”. You can try to name the differences with the baby in turn, this will add interest to the game.

This game exists both in many books for the development of children and in various mobile applications.

Find a Pair Game

The game requires a set of cards from 10 to 60 pieces. The cards depict any items: vegetables, fruits, animals. Each image is repeated 2 times and represents a pair. First, the cards are laid out in random order with the image up and a little time is given to memorize them. Then the cards are turned over. The task is to open two paired cards.

In fact, the essence of the game is not to remember everything from the beginning. The child will raise pictures that do not match each other, but this will not be considered a mistake. After picking up the wrong pair, the kid sees that under this card, for example, a cat was hiding, and under this one - a lily of the valley. This is what the child will have to remember and use later in the game.

“Find a Pair” teaches not so much to remember everything momentarily, but to concentrate your attention for a long time and use your mistakes, your previous experience.

You can and should play together with the child, alternating his move with turning over the cards, and yours. You can compete in the number of guessed pairs and assign a sweet prize to the winner.

Describe the object game

Description of the object is a training not only for mindfulness, but also for eloquence. You need to ask the baby to describe some object - at home, or on a walk - and do it in the most colorful way. After that, the child must describe the object again, only without looking at it, but, for example, turning away.

The game "Memorizing the sequence"

The whole point of the game is to correctly repeat the sequence of actions of some characters, whether they are children on the street or heroes from a fairy tale.

Of course, everyday life and real life can be used for this game - for example, list what you saw on a walk in the street, with all the characters and in the correct sequence. For example, first a blue car drove by, then a large bird flew by, then a boy passed by. In this game, the child develops the skill of switching attention.

If everyday life may seem too boring, you can try to retell the plot of the read fairy tales or seen cartoons. Perhaps at first the child will jump from enthusiastic impressions from event to event, but further, developing his skills, the child will learn to tell all the events in sequence from the beginning of the story to its end.

Ear-nose and Dwarfs-Giants games

This game is very popular among animators in various educational sections. On command "Ear!" all participants in the game - and this is both the children and the leader - must grab their ear, and at the command “Nose!” - by the nose. However, after a couple of successful attempts, the leader begins to make mistakes, and in no case should children succumb to this deception.

The situation is similar with the game “Dwarfs and Giants”, where the dwarfs squat, and the giants stand on their toes and stretch to their full height. This game is perfect for a warm-up at the gym and will bring not only benefits for the development of concentration, but also a lot of fun.

Find the item in the picture game

This attention game is most often found in children's magazines. Before the child is presented a picture with an overabundance of all sorts of details and objects, and in all this madness you need to find some objects. The task can keep the child busy for a long time, but the goal of this game is a quick solution. Looking at bizarre pictures, the kid will immerse himself in the world of the depicted and develop his imagination.

Schulte's table

This exercise will suit the attention of schoolchildren who have mastered the account. In a 5x5 table, numbers from 1 to 25 are randomly scattered. The task of the child is to find all the numbers in ascending order, starting from one, as quickly as possible. It is important that one view of the table can only be used for one attempt.

Symmetrical design

The checkered sheet is divided into two parts by a vertical line. On the right is some kind of image or object of an unusual shape. The child is faced with the task of symmetrically, based on the cells, to depict the drawn object.

It is also possible that on the right side there is a part of the object, for which symmetry is very characteristic, for example, one wing of a butterfly. Thus, the child will be able to restore the entire image. In addition to mindfulness, the exercise is designed for fine motor skills of the baby.

Chains game

Chains can be played both together with a child and together with all family members. The task of the participants is to make a chain of words of a pre-selected topic - sweets, cities, animal names. Each next participant must repeat what was said by the previous one. Over time, the chain will become more and more, and it will be more and more difficult to repeat it from the very beginning.

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