Mindfulness- the practice of quiet, thoughtful contemplation and relaxation. Hardly sounds like a match made in heaven for your rampaging toddler, right? And that’s exactly how I felt before I began these exercises with my three year old. In today’s society more than ever children are under pressure to succeed from teachers, social media, and sometimes us. Teaching them how to relax and enjoy the moment might just be one of the greatest gifts you ever give them. Here are some simple exercises that can fit into your existing routines.
If your children are anything like mine, mealtimes resemble a scene from Alien. Getting my son to slow down and not inhale his food has taken time and practice, and isn’t something we manage every day but is something I now enjoy too. Start by talking about how the food feels in your mouth- slimy? Squidgy? He was quick to offer his own ‘creative’ suggestions- like slugs? Like dog poo? And this was just his morning porridge! You can then begin including the other senses too. Slowing down also gives us chance to feel full, so is great for combating overeating.
Strike a pose
Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment and focusing on our bodily sensations. Holding a pose, such as ‘superman’ or ‘wonder woman’ means concentrating on feeling strong and can be very empowering (I quite enjoy it too!).
We’ve added this little into our little bedtime routine. We each take it turns to say something we’re thankful for (Me: ‘for having a nice warm house’; Him: ‘for Chase from Paw Patrol’). I want my children to know that they are fortunate and that not every child has the things they do. But, they are still so little and burdening them with details of this harsh world feels unnecessary. This feels like a step in the right direction.
What child doesn’t like bubbles? And fortunately they provide a great focus for slowing down breathing and guiding relaxation as you try to blow the biggest bubble possible and watch it float away. Pretending there’s a balloon in their tummy that they need to inflate can be a fun game too.
This simply means tensing and relaxing each part of the body in turn to aid relaxation. Ideally your child is lying down for this, so bedtime provides the ideal opportunity- we have lots of giggles when doing this too! Start by ‘squishing your toes’, then move up the body making each area hard like a stone then soft like jelly.
So there we have it- actual mindfulness for toddlers! Admit it, you were sceptical weren’t you? Which activity would you choose to try out with your littles? Or do you have other ways of just slowing down and enjoying the moment with your children? I’d love to hear your suggestions.