This post and its photos may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure policy.
Inside: Since it’s proven that ALL children benefit from mindfulness, we’ve created this unrivaled guide on everything you need to know about mindfulness for kids. Detailed sections include the benefits of mindfulness for kids, tons of free mindfulness exercises for kids, and even the best mindfulness books for kids.
I bet you are here because you’ve heard a little something about the life-changing benefits of mindfulness.
It’s not a rumor, everything you’ve heard is true.
And today, I have something that will make you feel like you have parenting superpowers:
The Ultimate Guide to Mindfulness for Kids.
And since mindfulness increases kids’ well-being and helps them conquer stress and adversity as it arises throughout their lives, we’ve no time to waste. The earlier you can teach these skills to your kids, the better.
Let’s get right to it!
What is Mindfulness (And What is Mindfulness for Kids?)
The true meaning (and benefits) of mindfulness for kids can be hard to capture in a sentence.
I mean, how do you describe in one sentence how spectacular a full life transformation is?
Mindfulness can dramatically improve every aspect of your life.
(But more on that below).
It’s like this:
You might notice how your body feels, notice what you see and smell, or pay attention to the feelings you feel.
Mindfulness is also noticing what your mind is doing and how it reacts to what’s happening around you.
And this is true whether we are talking about you, or talking about your kids.
Mindfulness is a magical tool to help kids (and you) deal with challenging and confusing emotions, no matter their age, gender, or personality.
(It’s also helpful for kids who are spirited or have any special needs).
In short, as the Mindfulness master himself says, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.” – Jon Kabat Zinn
If you want to learn more about mindfulness, and all its warm-fuzzy benefits, check out this guide from Mindful which highlights all the ooey-gooey goodness of mindfulness for kids.
Why is Mindfulness Important for Kids?
The big picture answer to why mindfulness is important is that everyone wants to make the most of their time here on Earth.
Everyone wants to be happy and stress-free.
Paying attention and tuning in has BIG benefits.
Here are a few of the way’s mindfulness for kids will help:
1. Mindfulness helps with concentration
When you teach your kids to pay attention, you’re improving their concentration, and this helps their brain grow stronger.
You can ALWAYS achieve more with better focus.
Your mind is sneaky, and when you pay attention and focus on what it’s actually up to, you can make better decisions.
Not to mention paying attention will help you control BIG emotions.
We all deal with BIG, confusing, and scary emotions, and when we teach kids to start to notice these feelings, they can stop these big emotions from overpowering them.
Give your child the gift of life-long coping skills with our best-selling Mindfulness activity guide for kids — Mighty Mindful Kids. This guide includes 40 fun and engaging mindfulness exercises to help children improve focus, calm down, and foster relationships!
2. Mindfulness helps with relationships
Noticing helps kids develop stronger relationships.
Taking the time to listen and thoughtfully respond to others is very important.
These communication skills will help your kids their entire life!
3. Mindfulness helps with relaxation
Mindfulness will help you relax and even help you sleep better!
Yup, learning how to calm your mind will help you settle down and stop your mind from racing when you hit the pillow.
4. Mindfulness opens up possibilities
When you tune in to what’s around you, it opens up possibilities and helps you see the world with fresh eyes.
What mindfulness for kids means in the real world:
- Improved focus which will result in better performance
- Deeper connections with you and friends
- The ability to live in the moment
- More emotional awareness (fewer outbursts), empathy, self-awareness, kindness, and compassion
- More creativity
- Less stress, tension, and anxiety
- Increased energy and happiness
Do you see how HUGE this is?
And as your kids grow older, you’ve now equipped them with valuable life skills and tools to deal with emotions and stress calmly and effectively.
Mental health professionals are raving about mindfulness’s healing properties, and this epic guide is the perfect way to get started on this life-changing practice.
How to Teach Mindfulness to Your Kids
Okay, so you’re sold on these amazing life-changing benefits of mindfulness for kids.
But here’s the tricky part:
It’s not hard, and I’ll help you!
By making a few small habits, voila, kids will begin to automatically start reacting in mindful ways.
(My son now counts when he’s upset, without me even asking).
Let’s look at a few ways we can start to introduce mindfulness to kids of any age:
1. Talk to your kids about mindfulness
Start by having a brief and uncomplicated discussion about what mindfulness for kids is:
Try saying, “Here’s the thing, when we are upset, if we stop and pay attention to how we are feeling, we can help control these big feelings. If you are scared about an upcoming test, we relax our system by breathing, and you will do better on that test. This is called mindfulness, and it’s easy to do.
Then provide a few concrete examples of what it means to practice mindfulness (tailor this to your child’s age).
- Could a few mindful breaths help you calm down before playing sports?
- If you are feeling bored or angry, could you name three things you love?
Use the 4 quick tips below to help your child (and yourself) quickly grasp the basics of mindfulness.
Explain these 4 quick tips on practising mindfulness:
1. Notice your bodily sensations
Notice the tingling in your fingers, the butterflies in your stomach, the way the floor feels under your feet. Also, start to notice your feelings and your reactions to those feelings. Don’t beat yourself up about anything; just notice.
2. Just Do One Thing
When you’re doing something, whether it’s playing with your toys, doing a school assignment, or taking a shower, just do that one thing. If you’re doing homework, just do homework, don’t check your phone, or watch T.V. at the same time. If you’re eating dinner, just eat dinner, don’t play with toys, or pester your brother.
This helps us concentrate, and when we grow our concentration, we can accomplish great things.
3. Some things Are Out of My Control
If there is one thing in life you can’t control, you have no control over many things. Be open to what’s happening at the moment (even if you don’t like it). Try to find the good in every situation; I promise you that you can find something good if you look.
4. Be Patient With Yourself
Remember that everything comes in time, and much like cooking an egg, if you try to rush it, the yolk will break and make a big mess. Be patient with yourself and be patient with others.
2. Model Mindfulness to Your Kids
To have any lasting impact on kids, we need to model mindfulness ourselves.
We can’t expect them to act in ways that we aren’t.
Monkey see monkey do.
That’s why it’s important you learn the basics.
I promise you:
If you start by changing one small habit every day, your life will change, in a BIG and GOOD way!
Check out this free beginner’s mindfulness guide (all for you mom or dad).
3. Let kids be kids
Kids are kids.
There will be days they might seem interested in these practices and days they definitely won’t be interested.
What happens is okay.
Stop trying to control every outcome. If your kids aren’t responding, pick it up tomorrow and try again.
4. Keep it short and straightforward
We all know kids have a VERY limited attention span. Keep your practices short and keep them as simple as possible.
These are children, not master monks, so keep your expectations in line with reality.
5. Build a routine
It’s much easier to pick up any habit if you make it a routine.
We all know routines are MIGHTY important for kids. (Read more on that here).
Routines take the guesswork out of your day.
You can use our mindfulness guide for kids, which includes 40 mindfulness exercises for kids, and aim to do one activity each day (or even each week).
Mindfulness Exercises for Kids Suitable for ANY Age group
The very best way to teach children about mindfulness is to make it fun and we can do this by doing fun mindfulness exercises with our kids.
Below are 10 mindfulness activities you can use with young kids or teenagers. (And yourself too).
These mindfulness activities for kids are universal.
Scroll through the list of mindfulness activities for kids below, bookmark this page, and make a note of your favorites.
Important Note: After you’ve perused the suggested mindfulness activities for kids of any age, keep reading for a lasered list of mindfulness exercises for younger kids (3 to 10), followed by exercises specifically geared towards preteens and teens.
1. 54321 Grounding Exercise
The 54321 grounding exercises is a famous exercise that will help you calm down, relax, and enter the present moment using your 5 senses to identify different things around you.
I love this exercise so much, I wrote an entire post on just how great it is.
By grounding yourself in the present moment, you tune in to things you usually don’t pay attention to.
This is called ‘savoring,’ and it helps you see the world with fresh eyes.
This gives each moment a new, fresh quality. It’s an adventure in noticing — and the more you notice, the more you see! “– Mother Theresa.
If you’d like to snag this printable for free, grab it right here!
2. Starfish fingers (Personal favorite Mindfulness for Kids Exercise)
Hold your hand up and spread your fingers wide. Then with your finger of the opposite hand, trace all your fingers, counting from 1 to 5.
Next, have your child hold their hand up and trace their fingers for them, counting slowly. Next, have them take a turn tracing. This is a soothing and rhythmic exercise.
3. Brilliant breathing
- Get in a comfy position – Standing or sitting
- Place your hands on your belly and slowly breathe in through your nose. Consider closing eyes.
- Breathe the way to the bottom of your belly. Hold you breathe for a count of 2.
- Next, let all the air out through your mouth. Feel your shoulders relax as you exhale.
- Repeat if it feels good.
We have loads of breathing exercises included in our Anxiety Kit for Kids Bundle (which includes over 70 pages of worksheets and exercises for kids) we also have a popular post on the 10 best breathing exercises for kids.
Picture a peaceful scene.
It can be anything from a waterfall in a forest to a beach’s rolling waves to a green meadow full of flowers. Now picture yourself in this scene.
Close your eyes and imagine this scene. Then describe or write about what you feel, see, hear, smell, and even taste within that scene.
5. Meditation scripts
Repeat this script to your child at bedtime:
Take five deep breaths. Allow your body to sink into relaxation with each breath. Sink further and further into that calm and peaceful feeling. Notice how your muscles start to feel like jelly.
Let’s go on an unforgettable adventure…
Imagine you are walking down a path in an enchanted forest. The trail winds through the most massive and most beautiful trees you’ve ever seen. The vibrant green leaves are glistening with droplets of water. Birds are chirping above you, and the warming sun is shining through the trees onto your skin.
The sticks and branches crunch beneath your feet as you walk along the path. The air is crisp and fresh and tickles your nose hairs. In the distance, you hear the rushing sounds of a waterfall. You stroll towards the sounds. You soon see swirls of aqua blue water tumbling over a cliff. The sun is reflecting off the water, forming a slight rainbow.
Sit for a while and enjoy this magnificent view.
Sink into the sound of the waterfall. Here is where you can let off any stress or worries you’ve been carrying around with you. You may notice you feel calmer, more relaxed.
The enchanted forest is here for you, anytime. All you must do is close your eyes and enter this beautiful space.
6. Counting backward from 100
It’s simple but effective. (And your little one can join in too).
Count backward from five to one.
You can do this in your head, or you can do this out loud. I prefer out loud.
When you reach one, start over (for one minute).
For this exercise to be effective, you need to adopt slow, controlled breathing (see above).
After one minute, your mind will feel less focused on stressful thoughts.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF COUNTING
The main health benefit of counting is that it diffuses anger. This is imperative because anger is one of the worst states of mind we can have.
This BEAUTIFUL boxed card deck includes 50 creative mindfulness games, visualizations, and exercises divided into 5 categories to help children feel grounded, find calm, improve focus, practice loving-kindness, and relax.
7. Muscle Relaxation
- Pay attention to your body. Try to notice where your body feels tense.
- Sitting comfortably, try to let go of each muscle. Start at your feet and work your way up to the top of your head. Relax each muscle as you go.
- Imagine your body going limp.
- Imagine your muscles are warm, bulky, or tingly.
- Tense muscles are no longer holding you up. You feel weightless, free, relaxed.
- Remember to relax your face and eyes too.
- Try to maintain this sense of freedom for one minute.
A similar muscle relaxation exercise is to tense muscle groups in your body, such as your neck and shoulders.
- Tense muscles for 10 seconds.
- Then, release the tension and notice how your muscles feel.
Because you tensed your muscles so hard when you relax, they instantly become tired and achieve that relaxation you are craving.
Perhaps start with whatever muscles are giving you the most trouble and work your way around your body.
Does your body feel like jelly? Good, that’s the goal!
8. Shower or bath
Instruct your child to “notice” during bath time.
Notice the temperature of the water, the feeling of the suds against their skin, and their thoughts, too.
Ask your kiddo to try to focus all there attention on what they are feeling.
9. Dinner time scripts
I’m obsessed with creating meaningful connections and dinnertime is the perfect time to connect with loved ones.
One mindfulness exercise to use at dinnertime is to simply go around the table and say one good thing from your day.
I also love tabletopics!
The questions are a fun mix of silly to thought-provoking and are perfect for mealtime!
If you are looking for brilliant ways to spend quality time with your kids and REALLY connect, you must click here to check out these genius family connection ideas.
10. Kindness rocks
Gratitude and kindness are significant components of mindfulness.
Kindness rocks is a fun craft you can do with kids of any age (I loved it myself).
Grab our free kindness rocks kit below for detailed instructions.
Before you move on, be sure to sign up for our FREE Kindness Rocks printables. Our printables are designed to teach kids a growth mindset, mindfulness, confidence, and much more. Click below to make sure you’re on the list! Once signed up, you will also gain access to our entire library of free printables!
Mindfulness Exercises for Kids 3 to 10-years old
These mindfulness exercises for kids are tailored towards younger kids, preschool to elementary ages. (3 to 10).
If you are looking for exercises for older kids, keep scrolling because our teen and preteen section will follow.
1. Secret Bag
Gather small food objects and put them in a bag.
Ask your child to sit down and place a blindfold over there eyes.
Have them touch the objects you put in the bag and try to guess what food they are feeling.
After, ask your kiddo to take off their blindfold and have them examine the food.
Ask some probing questions: What color is it? Is it bumpy or soft? What does it smell, sound, and taste like?
This is an activity in noticing and focusing.
2. Scavenger sights, sound, and smell hunt
Scavenger hunts are great activities to slide into the present moment.
In our gratitude kit for kids, we have a gratitude scavenger hunt activity you will love!
What about some fun yoga moves?
I love YouTube’s Cosmic Yoga.
Or, take a look at these fun yoga poses for kids.
4. Gentle Touch
This is a game my son and I created when he was only three.
My son has always been spirited. (Understatement).
To try to steer his wild ways, we made up a game we call gentle touch.
This is a game where we run our finger along each other’s back, trying to be as gentle as we can. (Until the other person can no longer feel the other person’s finger moving.)
A fun variation is to take turns drawing on each other’s backs and trying to guess the picture.
This is an effective exercise to teach kids awareness of their bodies (and concentration).
5. Broken telephone
This is a popular game where you pass a message around by whispering to one another (You’ll need a few members in your family.)
This is another game that helps us become aware of our bodies, (by whispering) we must exhibit self-control and center ourselves in the present moment.
6. Big bear hug time
This is a mindfulness game I play practically every day.
Whenever I shout, “bear hug time,” we must stop what we are doing and hug as tightly as we can for 20 seconds.
My son now counts to 20 to ensure we embrace long enough. It can break the tension of any moment as well as teach regulation skills.
7. Smell and tell
Gather some objects that smell.
Think flowers, playdoh, food, and take turns smelling the items and trying to describe in your own words what you smell.
8. Simon says with a twist (repeat positive affirmations)
What kid does not love Simon Says? Well, this is the classic Simon Says with a twist.
We all know the positive affirmations are good for us (how silly as they seem), and they are perfect for kids too.
They can rewire negative thinking to positive thinking.
Well, it can prove difficult getting a child to repeat a phrase such as, “I am brave.”
So instead of trying to force it, play Simon Says. Except Simon says things like repeat after me, “I can do anything I set my mind to.” Or I will now take 5 deep breaths.
Grab this free poster right here.
9. Train station thoughts
I love using analogies to explain complex concepts to younger kids, and the train station analogy is brilliant.
Explain to your child that our thoughts are like trains coming in and out of a busy train station.
Thoughts choo in and out all day long. Choo choo.
We can watch our thoughts come into our heads, and watch them leave again. Just like trains.
This is an exercise in simply observing our thoughts.
10. Breathing bears (A+ mindfulness for kids activity)
This is best for younger kids.
Ask your child to lay down and put their favourite stuffy on their belly.
Have your kiddo breathe deeply in and out for a count of 3. Notice the stuffy rising and falling with each breath.
See if they can rock their stuffy to sleep.
This exercise is included in Mighty Mindful Kids.
11. Superman senses
One of spiderman’s superpowers is his ability to tune into his senses.
Ask your little ones to activate their spidey-senses and for 2 minutes explore the room, noticing things they see, hear, smell, touch, and taste.
Create a stop word in your family.
This means that anytime someone shouts this word, everyone freezes for one minute.
Completely freezes. (On the spot).
The word can be totally silly and fun, something like, banana boat, or freeze please!
A fun game like this gives brain breaks, stop stressful moments, provides a check-in, and stops zoned out screen time.
13. Find 4 colors
Pick 4 of your favorite colors, and then explore your house or neighborhood looking for as many things as you can find that have those 4 colors.
Keep a list if you like.
14. Find 4 shapes in everyday life
Like above, find shapes in everyday life.
The table is a rectangle. The clocks is a circle.
These are experiences in noticing and tuning into the present moment.
15. What I love about you….
We always want to nurture kindness and relationships.
I suggest playing this game before bed or in the car.
It’s easy, take turns telling each other things you love about each other.
16. Stop Sign
Create a stop point in your house.
You could even have the kids draw and color a stop sign.
Whenever anyone walks by the sign, they must stop and take 2 big breaths.
17. Focus Flower
This fun mindfulness exercise helps you “see” things. Find a flower or plant to use as your “focus living object.” You will look at this living object very closely and notice all it’s intricate and delicate details.
Once you have your flower or plant, sit on the floor with legs crossed, or on a chair if that’s more comfortable. Sit up tall and reach your head towards the sky, but keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. Now close your eyes and take five deep breaths.
Open your eyes and examine your object. Notice the colors, smell, intricate lines, and details. Notice the texture and shape. Notice the petals and stem. Look carefully. Does your flower look different when you pay attention? Can you see how miraculous and incredible it is? There are so many details you’ve likely never noticed before.
Mindfulness Activities for Teenagers (11 and up)
The cutesy games don’t work as well with teenagers.
Everything is lame, right?
Some of my favorite ways to teach mindfulness to teens include:
1. Mindfulness Journal (My favorite mindfulness for kids activity – teen style)
Teens are at a great age to start journaling. This is a beautiful way to tune into your thoughts.
My favourite journal for teens is the Big Life Journal Teen Edition
2. Dinner table conversations
We talked above about precious dinner time table talk.
Don’t waste this time with your family. You have an opportunity to really connect here.
I also love this product:
Just Between Us – conversation cards to inspire the whole family.
- Important topics that provide rich opportunities for connection
- 150 prompts: all cards are open-ended and can be used again and again
3. Gratitude activities
Encourage your teen to engage in noticing the good. Expressing gratitude is integral to being happy adults.
Perhaps at dinner or before bed, challenge your teen to write down 3 good things from their day.
- Something they found beautiful,
- Something they are thankful for
- Something kind someone did for them.
4. Encourage a feel-good music playlist
Listening to feel-good music can improve our mood drastically.
You could even take it one step further and have your teen pay attention to the music itself, like the instruments used, the beat (maybe not the explicit lyrics).
How does the music make them feel? What emotions come up?
5. Use this three-step process to deal with stress:
This is my personal stress-busting secret. Anytime I’m experiencing a stressful situation I do these three things. (And you can easily teach your teen to this as well):
1. I repeat to myself: My mind is experiencing unpleasantness.
2. Then I say: This too shall pass
3. Next I take 5 deep breaths
Presto, you are calmer.
6. Teach kids about their brains
Teens are now old enough to understand some of these more complex concepts.
(And they might even be fascinated with what they learn).
Our brains grow, and we can have a fixed or growth mindset.
Mindfulness is a form of training our brains and we CAN transform our minds and our lives.
7. Suggest a mindfulness app
I love the videos and programs at Go Zen. If you haven’t checked out this helpful website, it’s chalked full of amazing resources.
Here’s one thing we do know:
Tweens and teens love YouTube.
So why not urge them to watch a Youtube video on Mindfulness, there are lots out there. I love this one:
8. Set screen time limits
Nothing takes us out of the present moment like technology.
Screens and teens are a BIG problem today.
Set screen time limits (20 minutes at a time) and take this time to connect and talk to your teen.
Ask engaging questions. Kids love talking about themselves. We’ve recommended a few conversation starters in this post, and I recommend grabbing one of those.
Mindfulmazing’s Mighty Method to Mindfulness for Kids
Quick method to bring mindfulness for kids into your life and your kid’s lives.
- Say one thing you are grateful for each day
- Pick one activity and tune in with all five senses
- Take breathing breaks throughout the day
- Acknowledge your emotions
- Notice thoughts and try not to follow or believe every thought you have
5 Magical Mindfulness Books for Kids
1. I Am Peace
Mindfulness means being fully in the present moment. Children can learn how to manage their emotions, make good choices, and balance their busy lives by learning to be mindful, express emotions through speech, find empathy through imagination, and wonder at the beauty of the natural world.
2. The Mindful Dragon
You can teach your dragon to sit, stand, rollover, and you can even potty train him...But what if your dragon is worried about so many things?
He worries about the past, and about the future...What do you do?
You teach him about mindfulness - You teach him to be mindful!
3. Breathe Like a Bear
30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm and Focused Anytime, Anywhere
Breathe Like a Bear is a beautifully illustrated collection of mindfulness exercises designed to teach kids techniques for managing their bodies, breath, and emotions. (And they can be performed anywhere!
4. Baby Shark Saves the Day
5. Listening to My Body
Final Thoughts on Mindfulness for Kids
This habit has the power to change your lives (present) and change the future for your kids.
This is a long article and although it can feel overwhelming, just pluck a few of these activities or strategies and implement them. Then, next week, return and pluck a couple more.
I’m so excited to see how this changes and shapes your kids. What exercise will you try first with your child?