20 Fun Mindfulness Activities for Teens & Kids: Useful Emotional Regulation Tools
Mindfulness for Teens & Kids: Learning How to Regulate Emotions, Calm Down and Improve Focus
Benefits of mindfulness activities that research suggests include helping deal with negative emotions and thoughts and improving concentration.
After reading this article, you will learn:
- the benefits of mindfulness practice
- lots of simple and fun mindfulness activities that will help introduce this practice at home (or school).
- PDF download: includes a free printable ⇒”Things to Look for on your Nature Walk” (for your mindful walking activity)
“Mindfulness is the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally” Kabat-Zinn
Everybody seems to be talking about mindfulness these days.
And, there are good reasons for this.
There is growing research evidence that mindfulness practice can be beneficial, not just for people suffering from a variety of clinical problems, but also for healthy individuals.
Benefits of Mindfulness Practice
Benefits of mindfulness practice include:
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Inducing positive immune system changes
- Reducing chronic physical pain
- Helping deal with negative emotions and thoughts
- Reducing insomnia
- Increasing self-awareness
- Improving concentration
Bishop et al. (2004) propose a two-part operational definition of mindfulness:
- The self-regulation of attention maintained on immediate experience.
- An orientation toward one’s experiences in the present moment, characterized by curiosity, openness, and acceptance.
Mindfulness practice has no age limits. Adults, teenagers, school children, or toddlers. Anybody can benefit from it.
Children and teens will be the focus of this article.
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Mindfulness for Children
Mindfulness practice can be a useful tool to help kids of all ages regulate their emotions, and control their impulses and worries.
If you visualize mindfulness as a still meditation activity you may feel it won’t work with your kids.
That’s far from true.
Simple mindfulness games and activities can help you introduce and develop these skills in your children while they play and have fun.
In his book, Mindfulness for Beginners, Kabat-Zinn suggests some very useful metaphors to describe how we can find calmness deep in our minds, even if we struggle with our thoughts and emotions.
I find the ocean metaphor extremely useful:
- Our mind is like an ocean. The waves on the surface are our experiences, emotions, and thoughts (always changing, flowing, sometimes rough). We can easily mistake them for our reality, but they are just waves. If we look at the depths of the ocean, it is still and quiet. So, we can practice mindfulness and teach ourselves to look at that calm part of our minds,
beneath the waves on the surface.
Best Mindfulness Activities for Kids & Teens
Fun mindfulness activities for kids can help you introduce mindfulness to your lives while you all play or go about your everyday life routines.
I will be sharing a selection of fun activities, most of them with a special focus on sensory awareness.
These mindfulness exercises are tools that will help your kids use their senses to focus on the present moment, away from worries. It will help them let their thoughts flow away, not controlling their moods.
You will be amazed at how effective they are when trying to soothe an anxious, frustrated, or overwhelmed child.
And continuous practice will promote focus, improved mood, and emotional regulation.
In this section we will explore the following mindfulness activities for kids, teens or adults!:
- 54321 Grounding Exercise
- Mindful Eating
- Mindful Walk (PDF download included at the end of the post)
- Mindful Guessing Game
- Everyday Activities Turned into Mindful Moments
- Balloon Fun
- Blowing Bubbles
- Sensory Play
- Mindful Coloring
- Mindfulness Imaginary Trip
- Positive Affirmations for Mindfulness
- Mindfulness Jars
- Mindfulness Journal / Gratitude Journal
- Gratitude Rocks
- Mindful Breathing
- Yoga Exercises
- Smiling Mind (Free Mindfulness App for Kids)
- Headspace for Kids ( Mindfulness App)
- Calm for Kids (Mindfulness App)
- Body Scan for Kids
📕 Recommended Book: Ultimate Mindfulness Activity Book (150 Ideas! All Ages)
1. 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Exercise
This is a very simple and extremely effective grounding exercise. It will distract your child from the anxiety trigger, help focus on the present moment, and relax.
Ask your child:
- Name 5 things you can SEE in the room
- Name 4 things you can FEEL
- Name 3 things you can HEAR
- Name 2 things you can SMELL right now
- Name 1 thing you can TASTE.
⇒ Grab your free 5 4 3 2 1 Grounding Exercise Poster, and read some useful tips.
2. Mindful Eating (Eating a Raisin Mindfully)
This is a very popular mindfulness activity, part of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) intervention.
It can also be a fun activity to try with your kids.
This sensory awareness activity teaches us a mindful approach to our everyday life activities, in this case, eating.
If your kids are not into raisins (our case!) you may choose any other small portion of food.
An adapted script could read as follows:
- Take a few raisins, and look at them as if you had never seen them before
- Select one of them. Look at it. Hold it between your fingers against the light. Observe it
- Put it close to your ear and press it between your fingers. Does it make any noise?
- Smell it. Do you sense any smells?
- Move it close to your mouth but don’t take it in yet. Is your mouth watering?
- Put it inside your mouth, but don’t bite it yet. How does it feel in your mouth?
- After some time, you may start chewing. What is the flavor? Does it change as you chew?
You may then discuss and reflect on raisins, how they grow, and nourish us.
In the original exercise, you would repeat this with the rest of the raisins, but it may be too much for a kid.
3. Mindfulness Adventure Walk
Mindful walking is a fun mindfulness activity to practice when you take your kids or students for a walk to and at the park.
- Ask your kids to count every bird, insect, or any animal they see or hear on their walk. This enhances their senses and directs their attention to the present.
- Choose a flower and let them smell it.
- Ask them to grab a stone, close their eyes and feel the smooth parts, the sharp edges, rough areas, chipped parts
- Suggest they sit on a bench, close their eyes and listen to the sounds of nature
At the end of this post, you will be able to download your “Things to Look for on your Nature Walk” printable
4. Mindfulness Guessing Game
The mindfulness guessing games is a very fun activity. We often use this one with the sense of smell because my child absolutely loves this type of sensory input.
Ask your child to close their eyes or cover them with an eye mask (if they feel comfortable with that).
Present different stimuli:
- Objects to touch and feel textures
- Different smells (spices from the kitchen, creams or oils)
- Produce sounds
- Select a few bite-size foods
Ask them to guess what their senses are processing.
5. Mindfulness in our Everyday Life Activities
We can also practice mindfulness while performing daily activities, for example, brushing teeth, walking, eating, playing with a pet, etc:
- Teach your child to focus on the toothbrush strokes and how the bristles feel, or
- Ask them to observe carefully the touch sensation felt while running their hands over their pet along with the response given by the pet.
These little moments of mindfulness are a way to help them stay in the present.
Turn Fun Kids Activities Turned into a Mindful Activity
6. Balloon Fun
Play with balloons and ask them to keep the balloon in the air, not letting it touch the ground. Their attention will be 100% focus on the balloons.
7. Blowing Bubbles
Ask your child to blow bubbles, noticing how they float away. See them go and disappear.
Likewise, another activity that your child can be engaged in is to blow bubbles and then note how and where they go. Staying attentive, while this happens is crucial. Hence mindfulness prevails.
8. Sensory Play / Sensory Experience
Play with mud or slime. Touch it. Feel the texture. Hide some objects like beads in the mud, and ask your child to dig out as many as they can find.
Need more ideas? Check out these 40+ sensory activities for kids
9. Mindful Coloring
Coloring is another fun way to add to the practice of mindfulness from a young age.
Download some mindfulness coloring pages for kids and teens and ask your kids to focus on the colors and the strokes blocking all other distractions.
10. Mindfulness Imaginary Trip
You don’t need to leave your home for this fun mindfulness exercise.
Take them down their memory lane or to a place they desire to visit (the galaxy, your family beach house, a lakeside, any place your child chooses)
Then guide them through this journey by pointing out the sounds of nature, the smell of grass or street sounds and smells. Create fanciful sights allowing your child to utilize his/her senses to be aware of the surroundings.
11. Positive Affirmations for Mindfulness
We use daily affirmations to overwrite negative thoughts and turn them into positive self-talk.
They can help us with anxiety, stressful situations, big emotions, and any everyday challenge.
We can also use affirmations as a mindfulness tool to help us focus on the present moment:
- I am here in the present moment
- I breathe in and feel the air filling my lungs.
- My mind is calm, enjoying the beautiful things around me
⇒ You can learn all you need to know about how to practice positive affirmations with kids
12. Mindfulness Jars
A mindfulness jar (also known as calm down jars or sensory jars) is a bottle or jar container usually filled with a liquid solution where different materials can float and flow creating a visually soothing and pleasant experience.
It helps kids calm down because they shift their full attention to the present moment. They feel mesmerized by the motions and movements of the floating particles.
You may visit our post on sensory jars to learn how to prepare a mindfulness jar.
13. Mindfulness Journal / Gratitude Journal
Another way of focusing your attention on the present moment is journaling.
14. Prepare Gratitude Stones
Preparing gratitude stones (or kindness stones) is a great mindfulness family activity that combines gratitude, mindfulness, art therapy, and arts & crafts, all in one!
15. Mindful Breathing
Deep breathing exercises are a great tool to help kids calm down.
The objective of mindful breathing is not relaxation but to notice and be aware of your own breath.
The good news is that relaxation is very likely to happen as a consequence.
Ask your child to focus on his/her breathing pattern, concentrate on the inward and outward movement of the tummy.
If you need more ideas to make breathing exercises fun -> fun breathing exercises ideas.
16. Yoga Exercises for Kids
Yoga exercises for kids also have an instrumental role in ingraining mindfulness into children.
The postures adopted during yoga exercises need a level of attentiveness depending on their complexity to maintain that position. Thus, their concentrating power is amplified.
Breathing is also an important part of yoga, and we have already mentioned the role breathing can play in our mindfulness practice.
Use Mindfulness Apps for Kids.
Have you considered teaching mindfulness techniques to your kids using a mindfulness app.
They are a great way to introduce kids and teens to mindful practice: simple activities, soothing voices, and instrumental music.
Most apps provide a wide variety of simple mindfulness exercises that will help with worry and stress relief, muscle relaxation, meditation, and better sleep.
These are just a few examples of mindfulness or meditations apps for kids:
17. Smiling Mind
This is a FREE mindfulness meditation app developed in Australia. It offers over 300 guided meditations for adults and kids.
There is a kids’ program designed for kids aged between 3 and 12 years old. And there is a different program for teenage kids.
18. Headspace for Kids
Headspace is a very popular app.
It also includes guided meditations for kids and mindfulness activities for kids.
⇒ Check out Headspace for Kids
19. Calm Kids
Calm is another popular mindfulness app that provides specific content for kids and teens.
Their content library includes sleep stories, meditations, and lullabies.
20. Body Scan for Kids
This is another very popular mindfulness practice that helps develop focus, calm, and awareness.
You usually start this exercise with a breathing exercise.
Then you guide your child through a body scan from their feet to their head, focusing on one body part at a time till you slowly move to the next one.
Below you can see two examples by Fablefy-The Whole Child.
The first one starts the body scan from head to toes.
The second example is set up in a classroom setting and moves from the feet to the head.
Ready to start practicing some mindfulness activities with your kid?
“The challenge of mindfulness is to be present for your experience as it is rather than immediately jumping in to change it or try to force it to be different… Thinking seems to constitute our ‘default setting’ rather than awareness.” Kabat-Zinn
Don’t forget to download your printable “Things to Look for in your Mindful Nature Adventure”
Awesome activities to do with the kids!
Thanks for your message, Debra. I’m glad you’ve found them helpful.