Sometimes it can feel like your mind is in ten different places at once; analyzing past events, daydreaming about future plans, solving tough problems, and planning for tomorrow! Your kids may not have the same responsibilities that you do as a parent, but we guarantee their young minds are swimming with dozens of muddled thoughts, especially by day’s end. Helping your child bring awareness to their thoughts and feelings can help them work through all the ‘mind clutter’, and foster their sense of stability and clarity.
The good news is you don’t have to be a mindfulness guru to help guide your kids into greater awareness—there are some great mindfulness books on the market today, designed just for kids! Not sure how to choose the right read for your Little One? We’ve got four things to consider before adding a new text to the family bookshelf.
Maybe you’d like to help the kids wind down after school, or perhaps you need to fire up their creativity for a weekend of device-free play at the cottage. Some mindfulness exercises are designed to foster peace, while others encourage an increase of energy or imaginative thought. We love Kira Willey’s Breathe Like a Bear, which offers a collection of mindfulness exercises designed to teach kids techniques for managing their bodies, breath, and emotions. All 30 exercises are divided into handy chapters including, “Be Calm”, “Focus”, and “Imagine”, so you can pull out the right mindfulness tool for the moment.
Finding the time to add new routines to your life can be a challenge. Bedtime is the perfect opportunity to introduce a mindfulness practice to your children, especially as you are likely already reading to them. Consider how much time you’d like to invest in this practice as well as what your children’s attention span will allow. Some exercises may be two to three minutes long, while others may be closer to ten minutes in length. We recommend reading the book to yourself first (and maybe trying out a few of the exercises!) so you can make modifications when it comes time to guiding your Little Ones.
Think back to your last yoga class; as your body moved from pose to pose in rhythm with your breath, your thoughts settled and your awareness in that moment increased. That’s because movement & breath are two powerful go-tos in the mindfulness toolbox. Notice if the book you’re considering instructs movement such as yoga in addition to breath work, and decide if the suggested activity level will work for your kids. The books Good Morning Yoga, and Goodnight Yoga, by Mariam Gates, offer fun insect & animal inspired poses that are easy to follow for parents and children alike. We love that these books can also be read as a short story on days you’d prefer to snuggle up with your Little Ones instead of rolling out your mats.
Some mindfulness books are intended for parents to read to their children, while others are suitable for early readers. Look for larger text size and fun illustrations if you plan on encouraging your kids to browse the pages of the book solo. That said, we recommend guiding your children through each mindfulness practice at least once or twice before expecting them to take on the responsibility—setting an example will leave the deepest impression after all! Consider taking turns as “Mindfulness Leader” with other readers in the family and watch in awe as your older children teach the younger ones to grow in awareness!
Cultivating mindfulness isn’t rocket science, however it does take practice in order to make it a habit. Choosing the right tools to guide your children will keep them interested, engaged, and more likely to make mindfulness a daily activity. There’s so much out there these days—the key is choosing tools that fit your family’s needs. Try pairing books with yoga classes, or maybe audio meditations to keep things fresh! And when it comes to books, see what the public library has available before committing to a purchase. This gives you a chance to test a few options, so you can feel confident that you’ve found the right mindfulness book for your Little Ones.