Mindfulness for Pregnancy I

By Magdalena Marzec

The Meaning of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the act of being fully present in the moment and maintaining an open mind while remaining aware of what is going on around you, without judgement (Sheridan, 2016). This includes paying careful attention to what you are experiencing in any current moment, whether it may be a physical sensation, thought, or feeling, and doing so with purpose, intention, and acceptance.

Pregnancy Mindfulness

Tapping into a state of mindfulness and resisting thoughts about the past or future can be difficult, and like any skill, tends to improve with regular practice. The most important thing to remember about mindfulness is the need to be kind to yourself as you acknowledge the details of your experience in the present moment, and simply remain curious and receptive to what is there instead of immediately deciding whether it is good or bad. You can start by practicing mindfulness for just a couple of minutes daily!

The Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness During Pregnancy

Pregnancy Mindfulness

There are numerous benefits to practicing mindfulness throughout various stages in life. Becoming more aware of what your body, mind, and surroundings are telling you is a form of self- care practice that can help you develop new coping strategies and stay happy and healthy (Sheridan, 2016). While this is useful in many different situations, it can be particularly helpful during pregnancy, when so many new changes are occurring. Practicing mindfulness throughout the prenatal period has been shown to reduce feelings of depression, distress, and anxiety associated with pregnancy, as well as worries related to labour itself, and improve overall mood among expectant mothers (Krusche, Dymond, Murphy & Crane, 2018).

Considering that prenatal depression is not only a predictor of postnatal depression but can also have a direct and significantly negative impact on the entire family unit, mindfulness may be especially useful in the appropriate management of intense feelings of sadness and hopelessness during pregnancy (Krusche et al., 2018). Furthermore, practicing mindfulness has been shown to improve pain management by separating physical experience from mental and emotional experience, allowing for increased emotional control over pain tolerance (Bonura, 2018). As a result, this can have a direct and positive impact on pain experience throughout pregnancy, specifically with regards to common complaints such as lower back and pelvic girdle pain.

Mindfulness Exercise Ideas

Yoga is a popular example of mindfulness exercise which includes not only a physical component focused on stretching and strengthening, but also breathing, deep relaxation, and mental meditation (Bonura, 2018). There are often numerous prenatal yoga classes offered throughout the community which focus on providing more of an intimate and personalized experience for expectant mothers specifically, as well as an opportunity to connect with and support one another (Bonura, 2018).

Pregnancy Mindfulness

Other mindfulness exercise ideas that combine physical activity with both breathing and focus strategies include martial arts such as Tae kwon do, Kung fu, and Karate, as well as traditional Chinese mindfulness practices like Tai chi and Qi gong (Bonura, Spadaro & Thornton, 2016). Although women who lack previous experience with martial arts may be advised to choose mindfulness exercises that are gentler, those who have engaged in such activities prior to pregnancy may be able to continue enjoying them after consulting their healthcare provider and modifying their practice as needed (Bonura et al., 2016).

Two specific mindfulness activities that can be practiced independently at home include the following:

3-Part Breath

Begin by moving into a comfortable seated position down on your mat, placing a cushion beneath you for additional support if desired, and crossing one foot in front of the other. Bring your knees wider if needed to ensure that your belly rests comfortably onto your lap and relax your hands down on your knees. Take a soft gaze and then close your eyes as you bring your awareness to your breath. First pay attention to its natural rhythm and then slowly begin to deepen the breath. As you bring each inhale deeper into the belly, visualize the oxygen-rich air moving into your uterus, nourishing your infant.

Pregnancy Mindfulness

Continue to inhale and imagine your ribcage expanding as well, and finally your chest. Pause at the top of the inhale just below the throat and then follow it with an equally slow exhale. Visualize the stale air leaving your body and your womb as your chest, ribcage, and then belly relax, in that order. As you reach the bottom of the exhale, pause for a moment and imagine that any negative thoughts and emotions are evaporating, releasing anything that no longer serves you and your infant. Repeat this cycle three to four times at your own pace, then return to a normal, comfortable pace of breathing and acknowledge any new physical sensations that may have arisen.

3-Part Breath Video

Video created by Magdalena Marzec 
1:37 mins, November 2018

Head to Toe Body Scan and Relaxation

Move your way onto your back, using blankets or cushions beneath you as needed. Allow your toes to flop out and your arms to relax down at your sides. Let your eyelids become heavy and then softly close and focus on releasing your body onto the mat below. Feel the floor hold you up completely. Bring your attention to your face and focus on softening the little space between your eyebrows, then the remainder of your facial features. Relax through the back of your head and down the length of your spine.

Pregnancy Mindfulness

As you mentally scan each individual body part one at a time, from head to toe, focus on softening it fully before continuing to the next one. Visualize your arms, hips, and belly relaxing. Feel your infant release completely in utero, and then move down your legs all the way to your feet, and finally the tips of your toes. Release any physical tension, tightness, tenderness, and pain as you go. Maintain this final position for a couple of minutes, enjoying your stillness, then wiggle your fingers and toes to bring awareness back into your body. Finally, check in with yourself for any new sensations that may have arisen.

Mindful Pregnancy Resources

Mindful Birthing

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“Mindful Birthing” is a resource for both pregnant women and those who are already parents, and the official website for the “Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting Program”. This program guides parents-to-be in yoga and mindful meditation practice and includes information regarding the process of childbirth, strategies for pain management during labor, advice on comfortable birthing position, as well as tips on breastfeeding and parenting after birth. It prepares expectant mothers and their partners for the challenges of parenthood through the development of both physical and mental awareness. The classes are offered internationally and teach participants about the importance of physical relaxation, mental engagement, stress management, confidence building, and effective communication, among other skills.

URL: http://www.mindfulbirthing.org/classes-training/parents/


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“Mindfulness4U” is a website that focuses specifically on the promotion of mindfulness for various aspects of life, including pregnancy and childbirth. A significant section of the website is dedicated to answering any questions that expectant parents may have regarding strategies in developing a mindful approach to pregnancy, labour, and birth. The benefits of mindfulness are discussed as well as its use in coping with both physical and mental pain, and even parenting itself. Specific tips are provided to enhance awareness and coping, including the importance of sleep, breathing, and social support.

URL: https://mindfulness4u.org/mindfulness-in-pregnancy-and-childbirth/


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“Expectful” is a meditation app that offers 10- and 20-minute segments of guided audio specifically for aspiring, expectant, and new mothers. The app includes videos regarding the benefits of developing a regular meditation practice during pregnancy, as well as physical exercise ideas. There are numerous different meditations offered, dependent on whether women want to engage independently or with their partners, and how far along through their pregnancy they currently are. Information is provided on fertility treatments, trimester expectations, and ways to occasionally take a break from thinking about parenthood, if needed. The app helps women become more mindful and grounded in preparation for birth.

URL: https://expectful.com/

Spotify (Guided Meditation and Relaxing Music for Pregnant Women)

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This section of the “Spotify” website provides pregnant women with numerous choices for relaxing meditation music. The songs feature gentle and soothing piano, flute, and harp options, and many of them are titled as though they are meant to relax the unborn infant in addition to the expectant mother. The music is a source of guided meditation, promoting mindfulness, relaxation, intimacy, and deep sleep, among other things. With a variety of both shorter and longer options to choose from, mothers-to- be are given an opportunity to enjoy physical and mental stress relief through sound.

URL: https://open.spotify.com/album/4RChB95tXEaZMGCnzINcPP

The Headspace Guide to a Mindful Pregnancy

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This novel, written by a Buddhist monk, is offered as a hardcopy, e-book, or even audio book version. Andy Puddicombe, an experienced father himself, uses his words to guide expectant parents towards developing a deeper sense of mindfulness throughout their journey through fertility, pregnancy, and childbirth, and finally into parenthood. The creation of a peaceful environment for both parent and infant is promoted throughout this novel, as a strategy behind easing mental stress and navigating the challenges associated with parenthood. Readers are encouraged to engage in just 10 minutes of meditation each day to begin reaping the benefits of increased awareness.

URL: https://www.amazon.ca/Headspace-Guide-Mindful-Pregnancy/dp/1444722220

Reference List

Bonura, K.B. (2018). Just breathe: Mindfulness as pain management in pregnancy. International Journal of Childbirth Education, 33(1), 6-9. Retrieved from https://icea.org/about/icea-journal/

Bonura, K.B., Spadaro, N.I., & Thornton, R.W. (2016). Mindful fitness: Guidelines for prenatal practice. International Journal of Childbirth Education, 31(1), 14-17. Retrieved from https://icea.org/about/icea-journal/

Krusche, A., Dymond, M., Murphy S.E., & Crane, C. (2018). Mindfulness for pregnancy: A randomized controlled study of online mindfulness during pregnancy. Midwifery, 65(1), 51-57. Retrieved from https://www.midwiferyjournal.com/

Sheridan, C. (2016). The mindful nurse: Using the power of mindfulness and compassion to help you thrive in your work. Charleston, SC: Rivertime Press.

Mindfulness for Parents of Infants

Mindful Parent

By Jasmin Mundi and Emily Shergill

Practicing Mindfulness During the Early Months of Parenthood: A guide for parents of children from Birth-18 months

Babies go through drastic changes from the time they are born to 18 months of age and it is no surprise they rely heavily on their parents for guidance, comfort, care, security, nutrition, and shelter. The unique transition to parenthood also comes with significant changes as parents go through the ups and downs during the early months, all while trying to maintain relationships and self-identity. Although the experience of parenthood is rewarding and brings joy to many parents, there are also a multitude of challenges that parents face during these early months, which can cause feelings of stress. Therefore, it is important that parents practice self-care and mindfulness to maintain their own health and well-being.

Mindful new Parents

The Transformative Process of the Child and Parent

The time from your baby’s birth to 18 months of age goes by quickly. In this short span, your child will grow significantly in size, develop their own personality, grow teeth, begin to sit up on their own, walk, begin to play with toys, and even begin to talk (Perry, Hockenberry, Lowdermilk, & Wilson, 2013). Growth spurts are particularly challenging as they are often met with sleepless nights and above all, feelings of frustration or helplessness by many parents. Some parents may consider themselves lucky as their child may learn to eventually sleep throughout the night as he or she grows, while other parents face difficulties keeping their child asleep at night. All these changes that occur during the first 18 months of life, along with increased responsibility can also change the dynamic of the relationship between many parents. What is important to know during this time is that every child is different and the most important thing you can do as a parent is practice self-care so you can be the best parent you can be.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness refers to the ability to pay attention to one’s internal and external thoughts and experiences that currently exist in the present, which allow one to become more aware of their mental state (Edenfield & Saeed, 2012). Mindfulness also allows one to be aware of his or her surroundings, emotions, and thoughts, and how these affect his or her body; it is the process of choosing one thing and paying close attention to it (Healthwise Staff, 2017). There are many ways parents can incorporate self-care into their daily routine. One of the most effective ways of doing so is through practicing simple mindfulness. Let’s face it, parents don’t have a lot of time, but that is okay, because setting aside 10-15 minutes a day is all you need to practice mindfulness. There are many different types of mindfulness exercises that are effective for parents of 0-18-month-old children.

Mindful parent

Why Practice Mindfulness?

During the first 18 months of life, children require a significant amount of care and attention and it is easy to lose touch with one’s own body and emotions in the process of caring for someone else. Mindfulness exercises can help parents identify their external and internal stressors and assist them to overcome and resolve these stressors (Fargo, 2018). Mindful exercises have also been shown to help reduce anxiety and increase concentration. Although anytime is an appropriate time to practice mindfulness exercises, they are best practiced when parents are in a relaxed state so that they are effective when unexpected or stressful situations arise.

Mindful parent

Tips for Getting Started: Simple Mindfulness Techniques

The first mindfulness technique for parents to consider, especially as a parent of a baby or toddler, is to pay attention to how you sound and appear to your child when providing care (Fargo, 2018). Imagine how you would want your child to perceive you, especially during stressful times, for example, when the child is not sleeping well, crying more often than not, or not eating well. Another way parents can practice mindfulness with their child, is by taking the child’s point of view or perception to help consider why the child may be crying or not feeding well which will increase awareness of not only their own feelings, but also the child’s.

Mindful parent

Another helpful way parents can practice self-care is to involve their full body into mindfulness exercises which can help overcome emotional and physical stress. For example, focus on your entire body, as you do a full body scan, recognize and touch the parts of your body that feel tense (Healthwise Staff, 2017). As you touch your body, focus on relieving the tension by consciously relaxing your muscles and breathing in and out slowly. After focusing on your body parts, move onto your brain and focus on all of the thoughts that are running through your brain. Pay attention to the content of your thoughts, without being judgmental, and take note of the types of thoughts you have (Healthwise Staff, 2017). It is okay for your mind to dwell on certain things, become distracted, or begin to think about other things that you need to do for the day while performing different exercises, as this is part of practicing mindfulness. When it comes to mindfulness, practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it certainly goes a long way to help stay in the present and avoid becoming distracted by other stressors

Mindful parent

Another practical mindfulness technique that can easily be incorporated into any parent’s routine, is done by using nature and the senses such as taste, smell, touch, and vision to encourage and practice mindfulness. For example, going for a walk, taking deep breaths, being mindful of the smell outside, feeling the temperature, looking at the colour of the trees and flowers, and the colour of the sky can help distract one from having constant worrying or stressful thoughts (Healthwise Staff, 2017). For those days where leaving the house seems like an impossible task, using mindfulness techniques at home can be just as helpful. For example, when eating a meal, pay attention to the colour and smell of the food, notice the way the meal looks, eat slowly and be mindful, and recognize the different types of flavors that you can taste. When feeding or resting while the baby takes a nap, take time to sit on a comfortable chair, look outside the window, pay attention to the sounds around you, and focus on deep breathing. Lastly, at the end of each day, look back and reflect on positive things that occurred in that day. For example, focus on positive interactions that you had with your child and partner, even if it was a challenging day (Marlowe, 2013). Encouraging your mind to focus on more positive memories and practice reflecting on experiences that brought joy helps you to reconnect and remember these pleasant experiences, rather than having negative memories and therefore, negative emotions.

Mindful Parents

Practicing mindfulness exercises acts as a self-help treatment and helps one recognize, reflect, and resolve stressful situations. It is also important to realize that it is not always easy to be mindful due to multiple stressors, however, it is important to recognize stress levels and use self-help techniques, such as mindfulness exercises, to promote better mental health, and provide better care for not only yourself but also your child (Fargo, 2018).

Peaceful infant

Try Our 2 Minute Mindfulness Practice Video

Video created by 
Jasmin Mundi and Emily Shergill
2 mins, November 2018 in Adobe Spark Video

Mindful New Parent Resources

Mindful Families

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Mindful Families is a blog created by Sara Marlowe, a mother, author and clinical social worker. Mindful Families is a valuable resource that provides thoughtful tips on the topic of mindful parenting and raising mindful children. This website contains many articles, as well as, techniques on how parents can incorporate mindfulness into everyday life in a way that enriches the well-being of the whole family unit. In addition to the online resources offered through mindfulfamilies.ca, Sara Marlowe also offers personal counselling services and mindfulness workshops that the whole family can enjoy.

URL: http://www.mindfulfamilies.ca


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Mindful is an online community based website that offers a great starting place for parents who wish to learn more about the basics of mindfulness. This website is designed for any person who is interested in learning about the basic principles of mindfulness and offers strong evidence-based research on the benefits of mindfulness practice. This easy-to-use website also provides its users with a variety of free meditation and mindfulness practices that can be easily integrated into daily life. What makes Mindful truly unique, it that the website specifically relates mindfulness to a variety of health topics, making it easy to understand how mindfulness can affect the body, mind and spirit.

URL: https://www.mindful.org

Mindful Exercises

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Mindful Exercises is a perfect website for parents to use when they may not be able to get out of the house during those earlier months of parenting. This practical website offers free guided meditations through video and audio resources that are short enough to incorporate into almost any part of the day. For those who are in need of some extra mindfulness inspiration, this website offers free mindfulness and meditation quotes which can help parents gain perspective and carry a new sense of optimism during the most stressful of times.

URL: https://mindfulnessexercises.com

HealthLink BC

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HealthLink BC is a free resource that provides evidence-based health and wellness information and is created by the Provincial Government of British Columbia that touches on a variety of topics from caring for children to self-care. This resource is an all-around health toolkit that any parent will be sure to benefit from in a variety of ways for years to come. For those parents who are in need of extra help or advice, this website offers a phone number (8-1-1) that parents can call for more in depth advice from health care professionals on a variety of health topics.

URL: http://www.healthlinkbc.ca

The Free Mindfulness Project

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The Mindfulness Project is an initiative started by Clinical Psychologist and mindfulness teacher, Peter Morgan after recognizing the difficulty in finding free mindfulness resources. The Mindfulness Project is a library of helpful mindfulness tools that users can access from all over the world. Not only does the Mindfulness Project offer free guided mindfulness meditation downloads, it also directs its users to a variety of user-friendly apps that could certainly be incorporated into a daily routine.

URL: http://www.freemindfulness.org/

Insight Timer

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Insight Timer is a free meditation app that is available in a variety of languages that can be downloaded onto any iPhone or Android. This app brings together over five million mediators worldwide into one online community. There are also over 2500 meditation instructors publishing tools to helps its users become calm, mindful, compassionate people through meditation and mindfulness practices. In addition to the guided meditations provided, there are also published audio discussions that cover topics such as self-compassion and stress.

URL: https://insighttimer.com

Baby Center

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Baby Center is a website specifically designed with parents of infants and toddlers in mind. Baby Center touches on a variety of parenting topics applicable to parents of children 0-18 months, such as breastfeeding, sleep, growth and development, as well as, helpful strategies for parents on how to practice self-care during the early stages of parenthood. Many articles published on Baby Center are evidence-based and written by Canadian physicians and other professionals. Baby Center also provides a message board for parents to communicate and provide support to one another.

URL: https://www.babycenter.com

Healthy Families BC

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Healthy Families BC is an initiative started by the provincial government of British Columbia to promote the health and well-being of BC families throughout their lifespan. The overall aim of the Healthy Families initiative is to help British Columbians take initiative over their own health and well-being by offering a variety of health promoting resources. Part of the Healthy Families BC initiative is to promote self-care of new parents. There are a variety of resources on the Healthy Family BC website to help parents as they go through the motions of parenthood, including ways of practicing self-care.

URL: https://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca

Moments a Day

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Moments a Day is a blog designed to empower families to make steps towards personal growth and development. According to the site, personal growth is something that should be continued throughout one’s life course, and helps people become better parents. Moments a Day offers a variety of articles such as how to use mindfulness to manage motherhood, how to connect with your child, and such, as a way to help parents in their quest for personal growth within the context of family.

URL: http://www.momentsaday.com

Guided Meditation for New Moms (Video)

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This video provides parents with a short relaxation meditation exercise that is easy to do at home. The author of the video (Candace) is also an international yoga instructor and renowned blogger who offers a variety of other free meditation videos that are short enough to keep even the busiest parent engaged.

URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtHA7dj-Lzo


Edenfield, T. M., & Saeed, S. A. (2012). An update on mindfulness meditation as a self help treatment for anxiety and depression. Psychology research and behavior management, 5, 131-41.

Fargo, S. (2018). Mindfulness Exercises for Parents. Retrieved from

Healthwise Staff. (2017). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Retrieved from

Marlowe, S. (2013). Mindfulness Practices for Parents. Retrieved form

Perry, S., Hockenberry, M., Lowdermilk, D., & Wilson, D. (2013). Maternal Child Nursing Care in Canada. (1st ed.). Ontario, Canada: Elsevier.

Mindfulness for Preschoolers

Mindful Preschooler

By Anna Montabello and Rachel Hendry

Despite mindfulness seeming like an activity or practice designed more for adults, it can be extremely beneficial in young children as well, allowing them to learn to be present in the moment. Mindfulness is commonly defined as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” (Viglas & Perlman, 2018). Incorporating and teaching mindfulness daily with preschool-age children is a way to focus on developing healthy minds and promoting self-awareness and emotional regulation and management. While it may seem difficult or even impossible to have young children sit down for a long class of stretching or yoga, that is not the goal. The idea is to make it fun, create and incorporate games, promote laughter, and provide encouragement while teaching skills that will help childrem learn to self-regulate, manage stress or anxiety, and listen to their bodies.

Mindful child

Getting Started

It is important that activities and practice are age-appropriate in order to engage and educate children. This can include pictures, videos, objects, music, and simple movements – all tools that are appropriate for a preschooler and will allow them to focus and engage in an encouraging and supportive environment. It is important for children to develop mindfulness to help them cope even in situations when they are under pressure or stress. Mindfulness can also help alter how they meet and respond to certain challenges (Sheridan, 2016). Self-regulation is considered a critical component of school readiness, as these skills facilitate peer acceptance and social success, as well as academic performance in early elementary school (Razza, Bergen-Cico & Raymond, 2015).

Mindfull kids

Mindfulness can also be helpful preschoolers for decreasing anxiety and promoting happiness (Gelles, n.d.). Since self-regulation and social and emotional competence are significant predictors of school success, incorporating mindfulness practices into a preschoolers life can have lasting benefits into adulthood, as higher levels of regulation have been linked with positive developmental outcomes including greater self-esteem, professional attainment, and better health. Gains in self-regulation can also help decrease children’s maladaptive behaviours related to hyperactivity (Viglas & Perlman, 2018; Razza et al., 2018). It is important to recognize that the best way to teach your preschooler to be mindful is to embody the practice yourself. It is not like piano lessons, where you can have someone else teach your child, you have to learn it yourself (Gelles, n.d.).

Educational Benefits

One study found that preschool-aged children who were taught techniques such as focusing in on their breathing, received higher marks in school, as well as displayed an increase in social-emotional development and improved health (Flook, Goldberg, Pinger & Davidson, 2015). Other studies have shown that by teaching mindfulness to young children and allowing them to participate in mindfulness practices, children show improved social skills, reduced attention problems, and improved mental health (Crescentini, Capurso, Furlan & Fabbro, 2016).

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Mindfulness Tips for Preschoolers


There are various types of meditation mindfulness practices that can be useful for preschoolers. Types of meditation practices include; focused attention (concentrating on a word, thought, sensation, or image); mindfulness-based stress reduction; movement-based meditation (yoga, or Tai chi); cultivating positive emotions; and emptying (centering prayer). Children need some down time during the day in order to function more effectively. Meditation practices are a great tool for preschoolers to learn how to calm themselves, while sitting or lying quietly and focusing on their breath (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2017).

Mindful child

The length of time and number of days a preschooler should practice mindfulness can vary depending on their temperament, however it is recommended that preschoolers practice mindfulness for a few minutes per day. It may be best to practice these techniques before their bedtime, in order to calm them, which can have a positive effect on their sleep (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2017). Incorporating age-appropriate practices can help to foster young children’s developing self-regulation and prosocial behaviour. More mindfulness-based programs should be implemented in early childhood classrooms to support the overall wellbeing of preschoolers (Viglas & Perlman, 2018).

Mindful Activities for Preschoolers

Animal Yoga

Introduction: Yoga is relaxing and builds breathing awareness. It is not only a calming activity but allows children to work on their balance, coordination, and flexibility as well as develops concentration and focus. Yoga is also an excellent activity to promote and work on mindfulness as it allows children to learn about the mind-body connection. Razza et al. (2015) also found that mindful yoga can be used to enhance self-regulation by allowing children to inhibit or control their impulses.


Elephant: Have children stand up tall and take big steps out to the side so they are standing with their feet far apart. Then have them bend at the hips and lean forward, putting their hands on the floor. Children can also sway their arms around as if it was their trunk, pretending to be an elephant.

Snake: Have children lay on their bellies with their hands down at their sides. Children will then use their back muscles to lift their head and shoulders up off the floor and hold for five seconds. Children can pretend they are a snake, slithering on the ground. Children can then lower their bodies down. This time, they can lift themselves with the hands in front, pushing up off the ground and lifting their head, chest, and bellies off the floor.

Crocodile: Have children come down onto their hands and knees. Then have them step their feet back onto their toes so that they are in a high-plank position. Have them hold this pose and tell them they are stretching crocodiles.

Flamingo: Have children stand tall. Tell them to bring their hands over top of their heads and high five themself at the top, keeping their hands touching. Then, tell children to try and lift one leg slowly of the ground, placing their heel onto the ankle or the knee of the leg they are standing on (ankle is easier). Have them try to hold it as long as they can and then tell them to try with the other leg. Tell the children they are balancing flamingos.

Bear: Have children come onto the hands and knees. Tell children to walk their feet back and make an upside-down V with their bodies, sticking their hips up into the air.

Tiger: Have children come on to their hands and knees. Tell children to tuck their chin into their chest and try to round their back like a cat or a tiger.

Hippo: Have children come to their hands and knees. Then tell the children to slowly push their bum back so they are sitting on their heels. Children can then slowly bring their heads down to the floor, just in front of their knees and place the arms back along the sides of the bodies. Have children take 8-10 deep belly breaths in this position, pretending they are a hippo sitting in the water.

Hedgehog: Have children lay on their backs. Then have them bring their knees into the chest and wrap their arms around their knees, giving their legs a hug. Children are curled up in a ball like a hedgehog. Have children hold this position while taking 5 deep, belly breaths.

Animal Yoga Video

This brief video demonstrates some of the poses described above:

Belly Buddies

Introduction: This exercise teaches deep breathing using a big muscle in our belly called the diaphragm. Sometimes when we breathe, we take quick and short breaths that just make our chest get bigger. Today we will learn how to breathe deeply, using the big muscle in our belly so that our chest AND our belly expand. Breathing deeply helps our bodies relax. If we are scared or anxious or nervous, our bodies cannot focus on taking deep breaths so instead we take quick, little breathes. By practicing deep breathing, we will be able to calm our bodies when we are scared or anxious, helping us slow down our heart rate and enter into a relaxation mode.

Relax by Breathing


  1. Have everyone in a circle, seated. Ask them to breathe normally. How does it feel? How do their body’s move?
  2. Now have them lie on their backs and put a small rock on their bellies that they collected on their nature walk.
  3. Tell the children to keep their mouths closed and have them breathe in through their nose for 3-4 seconds or until they feel that their whole belly is filled with air.
  4. Have them hold the air for 3-4 seconds.
  5. Have the children slowly blow the air out through their mouth until there is no more air in their bellies.
  6. Repeat 8-10 times. How do their body’s feel now? How does their belly move or their body move differently? What if they have the rock on their belly and take small, quick breathes?

Tips: Exhale through a straw if children are having difficulty exhaling slowly. Teach children to do this when they are angry or scared, or even before bed!

Belly Buddies

View Our Belly Buddy Breathing Video

Video created by 
Anna Montabello and Rachel Hendry
1:18 mins, November 2018

Mindful Preschooler Resources

5 Outdoor Mindfulness Activities for Preschoolers

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This resource provides 5 excellent outdoor mindfulness activities for preschoolers and their families. The 5 activities are: observe the clouds, hug a tree, make a nature mandala, go for a listening walk, and be an animal yogi. It offers ways for preschoolers to restore and connect outdoors after school. The best thing about this resource is that it is very easy for parents and young children to understand. There is a simple explanation of each activity, how to do it, and why it is important. These activities also require no planning, or extra equipment, can be done anywhere and only require 15-30 minutes of their time.

URL: https://preschoolinspirations.com/5-outdoor-mindfulness-activities-for-preschoolers/

Kids meditation – Imaginary Hugs & Peaceful Place

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In this video, kids are able to use their imagination and practice focusing by imagining themselves in a peaceful place. They are also guided to sit still with their body straight and relaxed. Breathing is also practiced and they are guided to imagine their ‘happy’ place or somewhere they like having fun. The video also incorporates a popular figure (Winnie the Pooh) that kids might be familiar with. This would help them internalize a mindful practice. The woman’s voice in the video is also very calming and she allows children to use their senses to help relax their bodies. Then they are to imagine that they are giving a hug to someone they love. This is a great resource to help preschoolers feel relaxed, as well as use their imaginations and feel happy.

URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJE-Zm0glxg

Mindful Meditation for Kids – Breathing Exercises

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This resource teaches kids about mindful meditation and what happens when they let their mind wander. It teaches them how to bring their minds back. Kids are able to follow the woman’s calm voice and focus on their breathing. The video goes through meditation breathing and helping kids notice their breath and how the chest rises and falls. The video also helps kids refocus by talking about what kids may be thinking about instead of the mindfulness practice and tries to bring them back to their breath and again focusing on the rise and fall of their chest and how the air flows through their nose all the way into their body. This is a great resource as it is very calming and easy for kids to follow. Because it is 12 minutes long, it would require patience. A preschooler may have to complete this in parts if they start to have trouble focusing.

URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bk_qU7l-fcU

Sesame Street: Common and Colbie Caillat – “Belly Breathe” with Elmo

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Belly breathe with Elmo is a perfect mindfulness resource for preschoolers. Preschoolers would love this as Elmo is in it and the music is very catchy. When Elmo is shown to be a monster and then deals with his anger inside, preschoolers get a visual of what may be happening to them and then learn how to deal with it. The singers are very clear with the instructions of what to do so it would be easy for preschoolers to follow. There are also demonstrations of children doing the belly breathing which allows for better understanding.

URL: https://youtu.be/_mZbzDOpylA

Body Scan Meditation for Kids

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Body Scan Meditation is another great tool to help preschoolers relax. This is a great resource to use before bedtime to help calm a child and allow them to be in tune with their whole body and sensations. This resource would also be very good for school. If a child is having a hard time, they could go find a quiet place and listen to this to calm them down. It also tries to focus a child’s attention away from other things they may be thinking about such as feelings of anger or frustrations or restlessness and back to their body and being aware of the present moment.

URL: https://soundcloud.com/mindfulmagazine/body-scan-meditation-for-kids

Yoga for kids with animals – Smile and Learn

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This is an educational yoga video for kids and their parents. Throughout this video, they are taught how to relax in various ways. It offers a fun story with animals and kids can practice different yoga poses and work on their breathing. This is a very fun video for preschoolers and the animals that are incorporated into the video can catch their attention and help them through the video. It is simple and easy to follow and they use young children and older children to appeal to all ages. The animals in the video are great examples as the poses animals do in real life, the kids will know (for example, the cat on all fours and the snake lying on the floor). The animals in the video also speak about breathing. The video is an adequate length so a child should be able to follow it till the end.

URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XCQfYsFa3Q

Mindful Ozzy Introduces Mindfulness (Pre-k to Grade 2)

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Mindful Ozzy teaches mindfulness by first talking about it as a superpower. He helps children understand why it would be important to practice mindfulness and focuses especially on breathing. He teaches children how to pay attention to their bodies by taking long deep breaths and filling up their bellies and breathing it all out. It is a very cute video and there are other animals that help Ozzy out. Another interesting part of the video is the 1-2-3 counting that also applies to preschoolers as they are learning how to count and may recognize those numbers. 1-2-3 is a great strategy for them to use to practice mindfulness and something they are familiar with.

URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0k_R7R1gIdA

Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame (App)

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This is a resource app that preschoolers can use themselves on the iPad or tablet as well as parents can use to help teach skills such as problem solving, self control, planning, and task persistence. From these apps, a preschooler laughs and learns as they help a Sesame street monster calm down and solve everyday challenges. For example, the child will tap and touch to help the monster friend take deep breaths, think of plans, and try them out. This is an excellent resource as a preschooler will love the animations and playful interactions as well as being exposed to important emotional vocabulary and a breathing technique. It is intended for children ages 2-5.

URL: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/breathe-think-do-with-sesame/id721853597?mt=8

Wuf Shanti Yoga Fun Machine (App)

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This is another resource app for kids ages 3+. It includes kid-friendly yoga, and meditation lessons from a big, happy dog. It is a non-profit organization so the cost is low for parents to buy the app for their preschooler. Preschoolers can use this resource on an iPad, iPod touch or iPhone. It is very educational, and easy to follow. This yoga app includes brief videos of yoga poses, songs, meditations, and positive thoughts. There are also games and colouring pages on the app. Kids will enjoy this app because it is fun and they may recognize the dog from its show on TV. Poses are presented by using animal moves or figurines, and some videos include kids with physical challenges doing yoga, showing anybody can modify poses to fit their needs. Wuf Shanti also gives kids (and parents) positive words and phrases to talk about and use in stressful moments.

URL: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/app-reviews/wuf-shanti-yoga-fun-machine

Cosmic Kids!

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Cosmic Kids offers many videos for preschoolers on yoga, meditation, and breathing, Cosmic kids has a Youtube channel and app so it would be easy for the parent of the preschooler to sign their child up. The Youtube channel is free but the app costs money. There are various mindful meditation yoga classes and ‘brain break’ videos. The Zen Den videos specifically help preschoolers visualize and ease their minds. Some of the yoga videos also incorporate physical activity, which would be fun for a child. The yoga specifically helps preschoolers develop body awareness. They learn how to use their bodies in a healthy way and are taught to manage stress through breathing, awareness, meditation and healthy movement. This is a great resource as Cosmic Kids offers many physical, emotional and learning benefits to a preschooler.

URL: https://www.cosmickids.com/mindfulness-meditation-videos-kids/


American Academy of Pediatrics. (2017). Just breathe: The importance of meditation breaks for kids. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/emotional-wellness/Pages/Just-Breathe-The-Importance-of-Meditation-Breaks-for-Kids.aspx

Crescentini, C., Capurso, V., Furlan, S., & Fabbro, F. (2016). Mindfulness-oriented meditation for primary school children: Effects on attention and psychological well-being. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 805. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00805

Flook, L., Goldberg, S. B., Pinger, L., & Davidson, R. J. (2015). Promoting Prosocial Behavior and Self-Regulatory Skills in Preschool Children Through a Mindfulness-Based Kindness Curriculum. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 44–51. https://doi-org.ezproxy.kpu.ca:2443/10.1037/a0038256

Gelles, D. (n.d). Mindfulness for Children. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/guides/well/mindfulness-for-children

Razza, R., Bergen-Cico, D., &; Raymond, K. (2015). Enhancing preschoolers’ self-regulation via mindful yoga. Journal of Child & Family Studies, 24(2), 372-385. doi: http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.kpu.ca:2080/10.1007/s10826-013-9847-6

Sheridan, C. (2016). The mindful nurse: Using the power of mindfulness and compassion to help You thrive in your work. Charleston, SC: Rivertime Press

Viglas, M., & Perlman, M. (2018). Effects of a mindfulness-based program on young children’s self- regulation, prosocial behavior and hyperactivity. Journal of Child & Family Studies, 27(1), 1150-1161. doi: 10.1007/s10826-017-0971-6

Mindfulness for Older School-aged Children

By Zarqa Ahmad and Athena Williamson

What is Mindfulness?


Mindfulness can be defined as, “the ability to be fully present and attentive in the moment” (Sheridan, 2016). The foundational attitudes necessary to successfully progress towards mindful mastery are a beginner’s mind, patience, non-judging, non-striving, trust, letting go and acceptance (Sheridan, 2016). A beginner’s mind will stimulate a curious and new perspective to yourself and the world around you. Patience will guide you to work through the techniques at your own pace. A non-judging attitude will allow you to calmly and openly understand personal experiences, as well as those of others, without labelling them as right or wrong, neither good or bad. A non-striving perspective will encourage you to achieve feelings that are special to you, rather than specific goals; mindfulness is about what is inside, not an external entity. By trusting yourself, you will enable your strength and wisdom to guide you along your own path to mindfulness. Letting go will help you to release troubling thoughts from the past and future, which enable your mind and body to live in the present. Accepting your experiences and seeing the situations clearly from all points of view is the first step you can take towards a positive mindful change in your sense of being.

Mindful children

Therapeutic interventions such as meditation practice; mindfulness can help individuals disengage their “auto pilot” mode in order to look more carefully at their convictions and thought patterns. The act of pushing away negative thoughts and emotions in therapies such as cognitive behavioral theory can increase distress. So, practicing mindfulness can reduce that struggle by allowing people to relax and be calm while reflecting on his/her progress in the therapy. Therapeutic interventions help form self-awareness, and help clients induce a sense of physical and mental calmness.

You can practice the following mindfulness techniques wherever and whenever you can. All it takes is a moment to reflect on your experiences to progress your mindful development, one activity at a time. Mindfulness is not a quick fix, however, with one step at a time, you will get closer to reaching your own mindful awareness.

Mindful Moments

The Three Ps and the STOP Practice exercises can help a child to respond to situations rather than react in the moment; especially when facing a stressful or confrontational experience (Sheridan, 2016).

Mindful child

The Three Ps

  1. Pause. Bring focus to your breathing and release yourself from doing mode.
  2. Be Present. Notice the sensations of your body, the thoughts of your mind and the emotions of your soul. Be accepting to your current experience.
  3. Proceed. In this moment, pay close attention to what needs your full attention, enabling your sense of being.
Mindful children

The STOP Practice

  1. Stop what you are doing.
  2. Take a deep breath and follow the air as it enters your lungs and exits your body.
  3. Observe your physical sensations, thoughts and emotions. Do you experience tension? – Focus on breathing through it.
  4. Proceed with the activity at hand when you feel a sense of calm through the exercise and find your centre. (Sheridan, 2016).

THINK ABOUT:  What did you notice as you did these exercises? What was it like to transition from doing to being and reactive to responsive?


These mindfulness techniques can establish clarity of mind and allow for rational reasoning to the thought process. They bring your mind into a state of being present in the moment instead of compulsively doing an action or activity. These techniques can help you to deescalate internal and external stress which will influence self control over your emotions and help you to find balance of body and mind. It will enable improvements to adaptive coping, which will result in a faster recovery to the goal of a neutral emotional and physical state.

Mindful Meditation

The Three-Step Breathing Space is a formal practice of meditation, which provides you with the opportunity to take a minute for yourself to breath through your feelings of being overwhelmed with the stresses of life. This exercise can be done in any setting in as little as 30 seconds, to if you have time for.

Family healthy lifestyle concept. Pregnancy Yoga and Fitness. Young happy pregnant yoga mom resting after workout with kid girl in living room. Pregnant mother and child meditating together at home

Three-Step Breathing Space

Sit tall with good posture in a chair and start taking deep breaths. Relax your shoulders down from your ears and rest your arms down by your sides; you can place your hands on your thighs.

  • Collect Your Awareness: begin to listen to and understand your body and mind. What sensations do you feel from your head to toe? What thoughts are flowing through your mind? Accept these thoughts and feelings to move forward to the next step.
  • Gather Your Attention: now draw your attention to the feelings of your abdomen as your breath in and out. Try to keep the breaths at the centre of your thoughts. If you find yourself thinking of other things, acknowledge the thoughts and transition back to your sensations of breathing.
  • Expand Your Awareness: begin to pull your attention to your whole body as you breathe. Allow any tension to release with the exhale of your breaths. Feel the gentle flow of breathing from the top of your head, down to your toes. Accept all the sensations, as part of your complete living and breathing experience.

THINK ABOUT: Once the exercise is complete, consider what you noticed and reflect on the experience that breathing through your feelings of struggle has accomplished. (Sheridan, 2016)

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The Three-Step Breathing Space Mindful technique will enable you to collect your awareness of your body, mind and environment, gather your attention to your unique experience and expand your awareness to enhance your physical and mental health and well-being. The ability to accept what is happening in a momentous experience will reflect your ability to accomplish a mindful act. Although it seems easy to do when reading through the exercise, mindfulness takes time to develop; little by little you will get closer to accomplishing mindfulness.

Mind and Body

Practicing the body scan can help you bring attention and awareness to your body. The body scan can help you to relax and shift from “doing” mode to “being” mode while accepting and acknowledging any stresses present (Sheridan, 2016).

Mind and Body

The Body Scan

  • Start by lying down on your back on a flat surface with your palms facing up and feet slightly apart. Alternatively, you can also do this exercise sitting in a chair with your feet touching the ground.
  • Lie still and breath in and out. Notice the rhythm of your breaths. As you breath in notice the different sensations your body is feeling. As you breath out let these sensations go.
  • Pay attention to where your breathing is felt the most. Is it the stomach, chest or nostrils? Concentrate your breathing on that area for a few seconds.
  • Now feel your breath moving down across your legs to your toes. How does it feel? Are they warm? Cold? Numb? Tingly? Is there no sensation?
  • Feel your breath moving from your toes to the ankles. Sense what you’re feeling. What does it feel like?
  • Breathe in and out and notice your breath moving up your legs to your stomach. Notice how your stomach rises and falls with each breath in and each breath out. Pause here for a few seconds and think of any feelings or stresses.
  • Notice your breath moving from your stomach to your rib cage. Feel each exhale and inhale. Notice your heartbeat.
  • Notice your breath moving down your arms to your hands. Feel the sensations in your fingers.
  • Notice where your spine connects to your neck. Notice your breath moving from your lips to your eyes and now spreading around your entire body.
  • Imagine your breath giving life to your body.

THINK ABOUT: After the exercise, think about and compare how you felt before, during and after practicing the body scan. (Sheridan, 2016)

Girl meditating with mother
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Five Senses Exercise

This is a quicker exercise that the body scan and can help one be brought to the mindful state. This exercise requires only one to two minutes to complete. (Positive Psychology Program, 2017)

  • Look around.
  • Identify five things you can see. Pick an object you don’t usually notice like a shadow or a tiny rock.
  • Identify four things you can currently feel. These four things can be anything such as the warm sun hitting your skin or the softness of your sweater.
Five senses
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  • Identify three things you can hear. Be creative these things can be anything like the sound of the wind or the sound of the car on the road.
  • Identify two things you can smell. Are these normal smells? Pick a smell you typically don’t notice. Can you smell the flowers in the grass or the smell of rain?
  • What’s one thing you can taste right now? Bring your attention to the texture and describe what it tastes like.

The Mindful Jar

This interactive mindfulness technique can help one positively cope with strong emotions. (Positive Psychology Program, 2017).

Glitter jar
  • Get a clear mason jar and fill it with water.
  • Add some glitter glue to the jar.
  • Shake the jar and watch as the glitter swirls around the jar.
  • Imagine that the glitter represents your thoughts when you’re mad, sad or stressed out. The glitter’s making it hard to see through the glass. This is what happens when you’re mad or upset, it’s hard to think or see clearly
  • Now put the jar down and let it sit for a few minutes.
  • Watch as the glitter settles to the bottom of the jar.
  • Can you see through the glass now?
  • This is what happens when you pause and let your emotions be calm. You can see and think clearer (Blissful Kids, 2017).

Try Our Mindfulness Techniques Video

Video created by 
Zarqa Ahmad and Athena Williamson
6 mins, November 2018

Mindful Child Resources

Mindfulness and Meditation Videos for Kids

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The Cosmic Kids mindfulness meditation videos are a perfect way to incorporate healthy screen-time in the home and classroom settings for the body and mind. It is a popular website resource among parents, teachers, and children alike. It incorporates fun, kid-friendly yoga, mindfulness and relaxation with the host of the videos, Jaime, and can be accessed through the Cosmic Kids YouTube Channel. It is reported by parents and teachers that by using these videos, significant improvements to children’s ability to self- regulate emotions, focus their attention and empathize with others were observed.

URL: https://www.cosmickids.com/mindfulness-meditation-videos-kids/

Mindfulness for Children

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Annaka Harris, author of the children’s book, I Wonder and editor of Mindful Games, created the mindfulness for children program to support the development of concentration and self-awareness at the malleable age of 8 to 11 years of age. The program incorporates a variety of mindfulness exercises to stimulate the mind and achieve a sense of being present in the moment, such as: mindful hearing, mindful breathing, mindful seeing, and friendly wishes. Also available in this website resource are a series of interactive mindful games (activity cards), guided meditations, lessons on mindfulness and podcast interviews (ex. 10% Happier Podcast Interview).

URL: https://annakaharris.com/mindfulness-for-children/

10 Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Kids

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The website resource, the Left Brain Buddha, is a valuable resource for parents and children to incorporate mindfulness in 10 fun and simple exercises developed by Sarah Rudell Beach. The use of these mindfulness techniques will enable the child to develop emotional regulation and cognitive focus to make better decisions and calmly respond to situations rather than reacting irrationally. The website also provides a video resource to the breathing buddies mindfulness technique with Daniel Goleman and a series of external resources to various other exercises to stimulate mindfulness.

URL: https://leftbrainbuddha.com/10-ways-teach-mindfulness-to-kids/

Kids Yoga

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The yoga for kids section on the Gaia online resource provides a collection of videos designed to entice discovery, build strength and increase flexibility of the body and mind through their fun yoga sequences. It delivers a channel to tap into children’s busy lives and allow them to reconnect with themselves and the world around them. The videos encourage relaxation, positivity, creativity and silliness, as the poses guide them through interactive stories to benefit their physical, emotional and mental health and well-being.

URL: https://www.gaia.com/style/kids-yoga

3 Kid-Friendly Meditations Your Children Will Love

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This is a thoughtful article by Melissa Eisler, that outlines the benefits of meditation for children experiencing stress and anxiety, as well as those diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression. Meditation can increase attentiveness and self control as well as respect and empathy for others. The children who utilize these mindful meditation techniques will find they enable them to morph their negative thoughts and behaviors into focussed self-confidence and accepting perceptions of themselves and that of others. Also linked to this online resource is a meditation app for kids to use on mobile devices, which enables convenience for children to practice meditation on the go.

URL: https://chopra.com/articles/3-kid-friendly-meditations-your-children-will-love

NY Time’s Mindfulness for Children

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This website goes through several mindfulness practices and techniques for children and adults. It covers topics for infants, toddlers, children, older children and teenagers. There are also several links to videos and external resources which provide mindfulness games. The site also provides step by step instructions with pictures of how to perform each technique.

URL: https://www.nytimes.com/guides/well/mindfulness-for-children

Mindfulness Activities for Children and Teens

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This website goes through several different mindfulness techniques including the incorporation of games, videos and step by step instructions. They also include tips that adults can utilize to help their children with these activities. The activities range from fun interactive activities to meditation techniques. Several apps are also recommended on the site to help facilitate mindfulness in children.

URL: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/mindfulness-for-children-kids-activities/

Meditation for Kids

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This resource requires a free subscription and is available in an app format as well as the website format. It goes through five different areas children can explore. The topic areas for meditation include; calm, focus, kindness, sleep and wakeup. These exercises help children practice breathing techniques, and specific visualizations techniques.

URL: https://www.headspace.com/meditation/kids

7 Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids Mindfulness

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This website goes through seven different exercises children can practice. Parents can also go through these exercises with their children. The exercises include the bell listening exercise, breathing buddies, the squish and relax meditation, smell and tell, the art of touch, the heartbeat exercise, and heart-to-heart. The website also includes links to external pages for additional information.

URL: lhttps://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-18136/7-fun-ways-to-teach-your-kids- mindfulness.html

15 Mindfulness and Relaxation Apps for Kids with Anxiety

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This resource provides 15 apps children who experience anxiety can utilize to induce a sense of mindfulness. Descriptions and costs of each app are included as well as graphical representations. Along with each description, the ways
in which each app can benefit the child is also described. The website also goes through several children’s books that can help with mindfulness.

URL: http://parentingchaos.com/anxiety-apps-kids/


Blissful Kids (2017). Mindfulness for Kids and Teens – Calming Glitter Jar aka Mind Jar.
Retrieved from: https://blissfulkids.com/mindfulness-kids-teens-calming-glitter-jar-aka-mind-jar/

Positive Psychology Program (2017). Mindfulness activities for children and teens: 25 fun exercises for kids. Retrieved from: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/mindfulness-for-children-kids-activities/

Sheridan, C. (2016). The mindful nurse: using the power of mindfulness and compassion to help you thrive in your work. Charleston, SC: Rivertime Press. ISBN: 978-0-9933245-2-9. Paperback