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What is “Mindfulness”? And How We Teach Kids to be Mindful.

What does silence mean to you?

I asked my daughter this question last night after reading The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito and Julia Kuo. The soothing children’s book story follows a boy who discovers the Japanese concept of ma, which is the silence between sounds. My daughter went on to say that silence for her was listening to the birds chirping.

Waiting for the school bus this morning, I asked her again if she could feel the silence as the fresh, light snow floated down around us. We looked at the snowflakes on my red mittens and compared the many different shapes. We were together in awe of the beauty of snowflakes. 

What is “Mindfulness”?

So when people ask about what is mindfulness, this is it—being intentional about living in the present moment, without judgment, but with curiosity. The grandfather of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn, defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

Mindfulness Book Activities for Kids | Kids Yoga Stories
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How do we teach mindfulness to kids?

The next question people ask is how we can teach mindfulness to children. Before we talk about mindfulness strategies, let’s talk about how we as parents and teachers can begin this lifelong practice of mindfulness, by noticing, getting curious, and committing to the practice.

First, we start by noticing how much our thoughts are running and when we’re not living in the present moment.

We take note throughout the day if we are or aren’t taking moments of silence to calm our nervous system. The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the moment.” I love that.

Second, we get curious about mindfulness.

You don’t have to necessarily read every book on mindfulness right away. Start by choosing a specific task you do every day, like cleaning the dishes, and try to do it more mindfully. Or take a nature walk and take time to listen to the sounds outside. Anybody can access mindfulness. It all starts with your breath. Your breath brings you back to the present moment.

Third, we commit to a mindfulness practice.

I’ve committed to a daily meditation practice, for example. If I miss a morning, I don’t beat myself up, I just do it later in the day. Another thing is that my daughter and I have been doing Three Deep Breaths during bedtime to bring a breathing technique into our lives and hopefully calm our “monkey minds.” Choose the practice that works for you and your children.

What are some go-to mindfulness strategies?

Now, to discover mindfulness strategies, I love incorporating the activities into these four groups:

  1. Breathing techniques
  2. Movement activities
  3. Sensory experiences
  4. Guided imagery

I’m super excited to share with you our Mindfulness Cards for Kids, which detail specific activities under each of these categories above.

These digital cards are easy to download, print, and play with in your home, classroom, and studio.

These mindfulness cards are a fun and accessible way to introduce the concept of mindfulness to children in the hopes that they, too, will find their own “silence.”

What are some of your favorite magical mindful moments with your children? Tell us in the comments below!


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Mindful ideas for kids | Kids Yoga Stories

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