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As a mom with anxiety, it is extra important for me to teach my kids about mindfulness from an early age. My mom taught me about mindfulness when I was younger and it has helped me get through my anxiety. In my undergraduate studies in Family Therapy, I learned more about the important role mindfulness can play in the family unit.
As an adult, I am always striving to be more mindful. Sometimes I have to remind myself to be more present and slow down when I get caught up in the rush of the day. I find that when I incorporate mindfulness into my time with my kids, it teaches them valuable skills and helps me feel calmer as a parent. In my speech therapy sessions, I often use mindfulness techniques to help my clients who have anxiety.
Some ways that we practice mindfulness as a family:
- Mindful Moments: Sometimes we all just need a quick break to recenter. When I am feeling this way or it seems that my kids are, I invite them to take a “mindful moment.” This might be as simple as closing our eyes and taking a deep breath or setting up an activity that encourages mindfulness. My kids love to laugh at me when I randomly say “om” or do downward dog out of nowhere to calm myself, lol. Some examples of fun ways to practice mindfulness are cloud gazing with your kids, exploring nature together, blowing bubbles together, bird watching, and star gazing at night.
- Reading books: There are many amazing books for kids on mindfulness and yoga. I like to read these books to my girls before bedtime as a way to wind down. See the affiliate links for some of our faves below. My absolute fave is “Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda,” which reminds us that when we focus on the current moment, we are more fulfilled and calmer. My favorite yoga book is “Goodnight Yoga!” I love the beautiful illustrations and the relaxing yoga poses.
- Yoga: I like to find fun and creative yoga games we can play together. Yogarilla is a fun game that I discovered when I used to do co-treat therapy sessions with OT’s at the speech clinic I used to work at. I also love the yoga cards and printables created by physical therapist and mom of two, Chanda of the wonderful blog Pink Oatmeal. Sometimes we’ll look up “family yoga” on YouTube and do a video class together.
- Guided visualizations: When my kids are feeling restless at night or during the day and need to settle their minds down, I like to tell them relaxing stories that are similar to guided visualizations. I tell them stories using a slow and calming tone of voice. The stories incorporate things that make them feel happy and peaceful. I use a lot of calming adjectives (like: comfy, cozy, peaceful, calm, sleepy, eyes are feeling heavy) in the stories and the characters usually do something fun and relaxing in a pretty nature setting that I also describe in detail (ideas: a beautiful meadow, a forest, or the beach). Then the characters feel sleepy so they take a nap or go to bed. Next the characters dream of beautiful and peaceful things. I also created a printable story about a comfy cloud that you can try with your little one.
Yoga games and activities: