When introducing mindfulness to kids in crisis, it’s important to approach it with sensitivity and adapt it to their specific needs. Targeted mindfulness techniques can be an incredibly effective and empowering component of their treatment plan, but like anything else, can take practice. Here are some suggestions to make mindfulness approachable and effective for kids and teens.
Create a Safe and Supportive Environment
Ensure that the environment is calm, safe, and nurturing. Find a quiet space free from distractions where children can feel comfortable and at ease. Involve the child in creating the space, if possible. Encourage them to pick out textures/fabrics, smells, and colors that they connect with. This facilitates mindfulness naturally.
Start with Simple Techniques
Begin with basic mindfulness techniques that are easy for children to understand and practice. For example, you can introduce deep breathing exercises, body scans, or guided visualizations. Get in touch with your senses! Sensory activities are an easy and playful way to introduce concepts and you can build on from there. Teens can benefit from this just as much as younger children.
Keep it Age-Appropriate
Tailor mindfulness activities to suit the child’s age and developmental stage. Younger children may respond better to short and playful exercises, while older children can engage in more structured practices. One of the most appealing aspects of mindfulness practices is the ability to use imagination so it feels less heavy, while still being effective.
Teach Emotional Awareness
Help children identify and label their emotions and how they feel in their body. Encourage them to express their feelings openly and without judgment, noticing that the emotion is just what they are feeling, not what defines them. Mindfulness can help them observe their emotions without getting overwhelmed by them.
Foster A Sense of Self-Compassion
Help children develop self-compassion by guiding them to be kind and understanding toward themselves. Teach them to acknowledge their emotions and reassure them that it’s okay to feel what they feel while developing tools to move forward.
Practice Gratitude and Positive Affirmations
Encourage children to focus on positive aspects of their lives by practicing gratitude. They can keep gratitude journals or participate in activities where they express appreciation for things, people, or experiences that bring them joy or peace. They can also set intentions for the day in the same journal.
Use Guided Imagery
Guide children through visualizations that promote relaxation and emotional well-being. Help them create mental images of peaceful places or situations that evoke feelings of safety and security. This is one of our favorite techniques at Empowered Minds, where we teach specific processes that feel approachable and playful but are immediately effective!
Encourage Mindful Movement
Incorporate mindful movement practices such as yoga or stretching. These activities can help children connect their bodies with their minds, promoting physical and emotional awareness.
Support Peer Connections
Facilitate opportunities for children to connect with peers facing similar challenges. Group activities, support circles, or mindfulness-based programs can foster a sense of belonging and create a support network.
Seek Professional Guidance
If a child is experiencing significant distress or trauma, it’s crucial to involve mental health professionals who specialize in working with children. They can provide appropriate interventions and support tailored to the child’s specific needs.
Mindfulness strategies can seem inaccessible to a child in crisis, so it is essential to teach structured routines they can use independently to help them take ownership of their well-being. Consistency is key. Encourage children to practice mindfulness regularly, even for short durations. Make it a part of their daily routine, so they can experience its benefits over time.
At Empowered Minds we prove mindfulness is not just a bunch of fluff. We teach youth and professionals effective and engaging research-based practices to take charge of their own well being resulting in resilience, peak performance and an unstoppable mindset!
If you’d like to bring mindfulness and visualization practices to your classroom or clinic, contact us today for a free consultation.