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How to help kids slow down and tune in

Mindfulness helps with mental focus

How to help kids slow down and tune in

Mindfulness means focusing on the present moment, by being aware of our sensations and acknowledging our thoughts and feelings.

For kids who have difficulty staying focused at school, mindfulness can help them calm down and stay present. Anytime your kids' energy is getting out of control, a mindfulness exercise is a good way to bring them back to earth.

Licensed clinician Stephanie Kaufman offers these suggestions for family activities to introduce your child to mindfulness.

Awareness walk: As you stroll together, ask your child to pay attention to sights, sounds, and smells. Describe what you are noticing, too. Pause to touch objects and talk about their texture and temperature.

Inflate a balloon: Instead of going for speed, the trick is to use the smallest number of breaths. This goal requires taking long, deep breaths, both in and out. Ask your child to describe the sensations that follow.

Memory game: Both you and your child take a few moments to look around, then close your eyes and try to describe as many items as you can remember. For children that find this task overwhelming, you can limit the scope to a particular section of your environment.

Guess with eyes closed: Hand your child objects to feel with eyes closed, and ask them to guess what they're holding. The olfactory version of this game can take place in the kitchen or bathroom, where you can pass foods and toiletry items under their nose to identify by smell.

Mindful listening: As you listen to music, help your child notice rhythms, harmonies, instruments. Online you can find nature recordings and try to identify animal sounds, water, wind.

Drawing on the back: Take turns drawing on each other's backs with a finger, so each of you can guess what's being outlined. Older kids can draw numbers, letters, or words.

Five senses report: At any moment, you can ask your child to catalogue what their five senses are conveying.

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