How to Help Children Practice Mindfulness

By: Mollie Shauger | Tuesday, December 10, 2019 | Youth Development

A mother practices meditating with her daughter and son on the couch. Credit: iStock

Mindfulness, or the ability to be present and composed when confronting the challenges of our busy lives, can benefit anyone of any age. Practicing mindfulness can help relieve stress and anxiety in children, while promoting happiness, writes the New York Times. New research also suggests that mindfulness can boost learning skills in early childhood, such as attentiveness, memory, ability to focus, problem solving and behavior.

The YMCA provides several ways families can help kids use mindfulness at home.

Use scents

Using essential oils and a diffuser, teach children the meaning behind different scents, such as lavender promotes calmness. 

Practice breathing

A simple trick is to guide children to breathe slowly and repeat the action. Breathe in on the count of 4, hold on the count of 4, breathe out on the count of 4 (repeat).  When a child is upset it helps them calm down. Another child-friendly way to practice breathing is have children imagine their belly is full of water like the ocean, breathe in let the waves rise, breathe out let the waves fall, repeat.


Yoga can help promote relaxation, improve muscle strength and flexibility, and teach kids to have control over their minds and bodies. Bari Koral provides resources for kids yoga activities. A Meddy Teddy - a teddy bear with arms and legs that kids can manipulate into yoga poses - is helpful for kids who are learning yoga and meditation, and for adults with limited mobility who want to demonstrate yoga or do it with their kids.

Use mantras

Children can use mantras as a calming technique. For example: tapping their thumbs on each hand to pointer finger, then middle finger, then ring finger, then pinky finger and saying a mantra for each finger (I am calm, I am peaceful, I am clear, I face fear). Practice the tapping out loud 6 times, whispering, 6 times and then inside your head, 6 times. Another mantra: Peace. Begins. With. Me. - one word on each finger.

Glitter jar

Make a glitter jar with your child. Let them watch the glitter move around in the bottle after shaking it to create a calming experience.  

Did you know that YMCA's child care programs incorporate social and emotional learning and mindfulness into their curriculums? Learn about our early learning and school age child care programs  at


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