It is so common these days for families to be constantly on the go. School, homework, sports practice, youth groups, and other extra-curricular activities quickly eat away our time and leave us in a whirlwind, shuttling our kids from place to place. Just as important as extra-curricular activities, we need to teach our children to take the time to rest and relax. According to Beesdo, Knappe, and Pine, the lifetime prevalence of “any anxiety disorder” in studies with children or adolescents is about 15% to 20%. Given all of the demands put on children these days, it makes sense to teach them methods of coping with stress and the importance of taking time to breathe.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness. One app that I particularly enjoy using with children is Smiling Mind. It is a wonderful program for ages 7 and up, and it is free! You can also view their website here. Smiling mind has numerous exercises for differing age groups (around 55-70 exercises for each group). There are techniques geared for ages 7-9, 10-12, 13-15, 16-18, and also adults. There are even about 250 sessions that can be used in a classroom setting. Exercises teach strategies for things such as focusing on your breathing, clearing your mind by getting rid of unwanted thoughts, and centering yourself. These tools can be great for breaks between learning activities, helping to calm down after becoming upset, or managing nervousness. For more about mindfulness, check out these links:
Cultivating Mindfulness in Educational Settings