How to practise mindfulness at home with children

“Mindfulness” means being aware of the present moment. Some studies suggest it can help with mental health and wellbeing.

These family-friendly activities support children to feel calm and be kind to themselves.

Kid's hands in the air

Teach this breathing exercise

This exercise is a good way to slow the breath or racing thoughts. It is sometimes called the “Take 5” breathing exercise. Explain and practice these steps with your child.

  1. Get your child to hold out one hand with the fingers apart, like a star.
  2. Using a finger on your other hand as a pointer, slowly trace around the star shape.
  3. Breathe in as you trace up each finger, and breathe out as you trace down the other side. Trace around your whole hand.
  4. Repeat this as many times as you like.
  5. Afterwards, ask your child how they feel.

Make a mindfulness jar

Pick a selection of mindful activities and write each one on a piece of card or paper. Put them all in a jar or box somewhere you spend time together. Each family member can then choose one at random to do every day. Here are some ideas to get your started:

  • Breathe. Do the tracing the breath exercise above, but keep it going for 60 seconds or longer. Try to focus only on the activity. Each time you notice your mind wandering, gently bring it back to the task.
  • Notice nature. Look or listen for birds, animals, plants, clouds and anything else. You can do this while sitting in the garden, or even while standing at the back door or in front of a window.
  • Notice each of your senses in turn. What can you see? What do you hear? What can you taste, touch or smell?
  • Make a gratitude list. What makes you happy or helps you feel safe? Who or what would you like to thank for these things?
  • Pick a word for the day. Whenever you hear or read that word, take a moment to pay close attention to what you’re doing. Are you walking, texting or brushing your teeth? How are you moving? How do you feel?

Teach self-care

Encourage your child to choose at least one mindfulness activity every day that makes them feel good. For example:

  • Read a book, watch a movie or listen to music.
  • Bake biscuits, or make your favourite cake.
  • Put music on and sing or dance around the house.
  • Make a collage out of old magazines.
  • Call or write to a friend or family member.
  • Try a free workout video online.
  • Do something nice for someone else.

For more suggestions, see these activities for toddlers, children  and teens.

Have a daily review

Making this part of your child’s bedtime routine is a great way to let go of worries. Ask your child:

  • What was good about today?
  • What didn’t go well?
  • What made you smile?
  • What are you looking forward to about tomorrow?

These questions help your child savour the good stuff and take pride in their achievements. They’re also a chance to release disappointment, and remember that tomorrow is a fresh start.

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