Last Modified: December 14, 2023 | Published: October 17, 2023

Looking for ways to teach mindfulness to your child? This blog post is full of clinician-approved activities you can do with your child.

You’ll learn great ways to help your child learn to control their emotions. These activities can help reduce symptoms related to anxiety, depression, and stress when practiced regularly with your child. 

To dive deeper, download our free e-book, where you will learn exactly what to say to your child in tough situations. Walk away knowing how to incorporate mindfulness into your child’s everyday life.

Ebook cover titled Raising a Mindful Child

Picture of free mindfulness e-book

Benefits of teaching mindfulness to your child

Teaching mindfulness to your child has many benefits. These benefits include 

  • Reduced symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression 
  • Reduced number and intensity of meltdowns
  • Help for your child to heal from trauma
  • Increased focus and attention span 
  • Increased sense of positivity, self-esteem, and self-worth
  • Increased empathy, resilience, and self-compassion 
  • Improved emotional regulation

Help your child learn the strategies in this blog post to stay calm. Mindfulness can help your child with focus, following directions, attention, and more. Meltdowns are less likely, too, as your child stays calm.  

These ways and strategies are organized by different parenting situations. Feel free to scan to find the situation where you need the most help!

Mindful breathing techniques for any situation

Teaching Mindfullness To Your Child picture of mom and child taking deep breaths

Breathing exercises are a wonderful way to practice mindfulness.

Let’s start with some strategies you can use for teaching breathing techniques. These strategies are great for any situation.

Download our free book on teaching mindful strategies to your child. You will get step-by-step instructions on what to say and how to best support your child with mindfulness

Stuffed animal breathing

This is a great way to teach your child how to breathe from their diaphragm. Diaphragmatic breathing is a great way to help your child’s body let go of stress. This is a great activity to use at bedtime. 

  1. Have your child pick out a small stuffed animal
  2. Have your child place this stuffed animal on their belly
  3. Next, have your child take a deep breath into their belly. 
  4. As your child’s belly rises, the stuffed animal will rise. It is a great visual. 
  5. Next, have your child take a slow breath out of their mouth. Watch the animal drop. 
  6. Go again for 10 animal breaths 

Bubble breathing

This activity can teach your child how to take slow deep breaths. The slower and deeper your breath in and out, the larger the bubble. 

  1. Get some bubbles 
  2. Dip the bubble wand into the bubble solution 
  3. Have your child take a slow deep breath in through their nose 
  4. Next, have your child blow out as slowly as possible through their mouth and into the bubble wand

Belly balloon breathing

  1. Have your child take a deep breath in through their nose
  2. As your child is breathing in, have them imagine there is a balloon inside their belly that is filling up with air
  3. Next, have your child breathe out through their mouth
  4. As your child is breathing out, have them imagine their worry is floating away on their out breath 

Shape breathing

  1. Print out different shapes your child can trace with their finger
  2. Have your child breathe in as they trace one side of the shape with their finger
  3. Next, have your child breathe out as they trace another side with their finger 
  4. Repeat 

Mindfulness strategies for stressful situations and anxiety 

Here are strategies you can use for stressful situations and when your child is worried or anxious. Download our free book on teaching mindful strategies to your child. You will get step-by-step instructions on what to say and how to best support your child with mindfulness.

Progressive muscle relaxation

  1. You start by tightening one muscle group and taking a deep breath. 
  2. Then you release and relax that muscle group. Try to become as relaxed as possible. 
  3. Go from top of head to toes.  Start with crinkling and squeezing face muscles and releasing. 

Active visualization 

What we focus on right before bed can impact the quality of our sleep.

  1. Start by having your child close their eyes. 
  2. Have your child pick a fun, happy, special place. This place can be real or imaginary. 
  3. Ask your child to describe what they are imagining.
  4. Ask follow-up questions. You may ask your child to describe what the place smells like and how it feels. You may ask them what noises they hear. 

Balloon let go 

teaching mindfulness to your child, image of child letting a worry go through a balloon

Try teaching your child to imagine their worries are in a balloon.

  1. Have your child imagine putting their worry or stressor in a balloon
  2. Next, have your child imagine the balloon floating up and away 
  3. Go to the next negative thought and repeat

Magic jar technique 

This can be a fun art activity to do with your child. Your child’s creation becomes a fun mindfulness activity they can use in times of stress.  

  1. Create a glitter jar. You would want to supervise this activity with your child. Here is a helpful website for creating a glitter jar
  2. Shake the glitter jar 
  3. Set a timer for 2 minutes 
  4. Watch the different motions of the glitter 
  5. When your child’s mind wanders, have them bring it back to watching the glitter 

Eye-spy mindfulness walk

  1. Before going for a walk with your child, pick something you want to notice. For example, maybe you are going to listen and look for birds or the color pink
  2. As you are walking, have your child take their focus away from what is worrying them and have your child notice the environment around them
  3. Together point out when you notice a bird or the color pink or the object you were trying to find 
  4. Make it fun, have it be a game 

Superhero pose

  1. Have your child stand as their favorite superhero 
  2. Have your child notice how their body feels when they are standing strong 
  3. Have your child breathe in strength and breathe out worry and fear

Feel your feet

  1. Check out our video of this strategy 
  2. Have your child notice their feet 
  3. Ask your child how the ground feels is it cold, warm, or hot
  4. Ask your child to notice if the ground is soft, squishy, or hard 
  5. Take some deep breaths and be in this moment 
  6. Download the Cadey app to watch other videos like this

Feel into it

  1. Check out our video of this strategy
  2. Tune into body sensations to quiet mental chatter 
  3. Have your child tune into their fingers and ask what they notice
  4. Have your child tune into their toes and ask what they notice
  5. Have your child tune into their arms and ask what they notice 
  6. Have your child take a deep breath in through their nose and out through their mouth

Mindfulness strategies for strong emotions and self-regulation 

Here are strategies you can use when your child is having strong emotions and struggling to self-regulate.

Download our free book on teaching mindful strategies to your child. You will get step-by-step instructions on what to say and how to best support your child with mindfulness

Emotion wheel check-in

feelings wheel, pictures of scared, sad, lonely, disappointed, bored, mad, frustrated, worried

Here is a feeling wheel you can explore with your child.

It can be fun to make this into an art project you do with your child. (Get a free colorable version in our  e-book and practice mindful coloring) 

Start by drawing or cutting out a circle on paper. Next, create at least 8 sections. In each section, put a different uncomfortable feeling. 

  1. When your child is feeling an uncomfortable emotion, have them find it on the mood wheel 
  2. Next, have your child locate the feeling in their body
  3. Now have your child breathe into that space in their body
  4. Your child can imagine breathing in peace, love, joy or another positive emotion into that sensation in their body
  5. Next, have your child breathe out the uncomfortable feeling

Grounding

  1. Have your child stand up and feel their feet firmly on the ground as if they were a tree.
  2. Have your child imagine their feet are tree roots, and they can anchor them deeply into the ground.
  3. Ask your child if the ground is firm, smooth, squishy, cold, or hot. 
  4.  Have your child spread out their arms and gently wave them around like tree branches in a gentle breeze. 
  5. Ask your child how the air feels on their arms. Is it warm or cold? 
  6. Have your child take a deep breath in through their nose and out through their mouth. 
  7. Have your child imagine their strong emotions leaving their body and going down into the earth through their roots. 
  8. Next, have your child shake the extra emotions off through their arms, the tree branches.

Throwing the intensity away 

  1. Have your child draw out what is upsetting them. 
  2. Now, have your child crumple up their picture and throw it away. 
  3. If you want to make it extra fun, bring out a trash can and make it into a game. 
  4. Now, it is time to move on to something else. 
  5. Watch Dr. Willard describe a version of this strategy in this video

Squeeze and release 

  1. Have your child squeeze each hand. 
  2. Now have your child take a deep breath
  3. Next, have your child relax and shake out their hands 

    Go for a mindful listening walk 

    1. Make a walk with your child into a game
    2. Before going for a walk, pick something you and your child want to look for on your walk. It can help to pick something unique. 
    3. Go for a walk
    4. On your walk, keep your senses open and see who can pick out or hear the most sounds of the item you picked 
    5. Whoever finds the most wins

    Go for a mindful swim 

    1. Go to your nearest pool. Maybe the Rec Center? 
    2. Have your child focus on their arm strokes
    3. Each time your child has a frustrating thought, they return their attention to their arm strokes. 

    Watch clouds 

    Word of caution: you are watching clouds. Let your child know not to look at the sun 

    1. Go outside and find a comfy place to lie on the ground
    2. Next, with your child, notice how the clouds move through the sky
    3. Ask your child, “What do you notice about the different clouds.
    4. Take turns finding interesting shapes and pictures that are present in the clouds
    5. When you get bored of this, just watch the clouds move across the sky 

    Mindfulness strategies around homework challenges

    Here are strategies you can use when your child is struggling with homework.

    Download our free book on teaching mindful strategies to your child. You will get step-by-step instructions on what to say and how to best support your child with mindfulness. 

    Fear of failure strategy 

    1. Help your child focus on this moment. 
    2. Let go of sticky thoughts about what could happen or what did happen. 
    3. When a sticky thought enters your child’s mind, have your child say to the thought, “I can only focus on this moment. I don’t know what is going to happen yet.”
    4. Now, have your child focus back on their work. 

    Procrastination with an assignment 

    1. Read through the requirements of the assignment 
    2. What is the why? 
    3. Create a word map or picture of the steps and requirements 
    4. Pick one step to start with 
    5. Set a timer for 15 minutes
    6. Start with one small step 
    7. When the timer goes off, allow yourself to celebrate with a break 
    8. Come back and start another step 

    Next steps

    Have you enjoyed this blog? Would you like to learn more? In our free e-book, you will learn how to incorporate mindfulness into your child’s daily routine more naturally and in the moment. 

    In the e-book, you will walk away knowing what to say to your child in tough situations.  You will also learn how to incorporate mindfulness in a way that honors your child’s feelings and helps them overcome everyday challenges. 

    Get the Cadey app

    Do you have tough parenting questions? Get our app, designed by psychologists for parents. Parenting is hard, and Cadey is here to help. 

    When you download the Cadey app, you get immediate advice on your toughest parenting challenges. Cadey is here to help.