20 Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Kids

Although mindfulness isn’t new—it’s rooted in Buddhist tradition—it only gained popularity in the West over the past few decades. Most recently, researchers have discovered the benefits of teaching mindfulness to kids.

Mindfulness is about becoming fully aware of what’s happening in the present moment. And in today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to miss what’s going on around you.

Many people go through the motions of their daily routines without being fully aware of what’s happening around them. Whether they’re distracted with something that happened yesterday, or they’re worried about something that might happen tomorrow, they’re missing out on what’s happening right now. 

Just like adults, kids are easily distracted and quite often, they’re unaware of their circumstances. That fact can lead to challenges like difficulties managing their emotions or trouble controlling their behavior.

Research shows mindfulness skills benefit kids’ brains and improves their behavior. Their attention spans improve. They also enjoy better mental health, and they become more resilient to stress.

That’s why some schools are adopting mindfulness programs. Schools that teach mindfulness skills report fewer discipline problems and better engagement from students.

There are many ways to teach children to become more mindful. You can adapt these exercises to fit the needs of preschoolers to teens. Here are 20 simple but effective ways to teach your child mindfulness skills:


Pretend to Walk on Thin Ice

Woman doing yoga with her daughter

Maa Hoo / Stocksy United

Teach your child to become more aware of their body and their movements. Tell them to pretend they're walking on thin ice and they have to move slowly and carefully around the room.

You can bring more awareness to their movements by pretending you’re a radio announcer. Say things like, “You’re picking your right leg up slowly and carefully putting it back down.”

There are many other games you can invent to encourage your child to move slowly and carefully. For example, toss a balloon in the air and tell them the balloon is a fragile egg and they have to carefully keep it in the air without breaking it.


Journal About Specific Activities

Ask your child to write about their daily activities, or invite them to tell you about them so you can write it down. Pick a specific part of the day, like their morning routine or their afternoon at school and ask them to recall what they did.

The first couple of times they do this exercise, they may be vague, like, “I had recess and then we had math class.” Don’t correct them or dig for more details. Instead, remind them you’ll do it again tomorrow.

With practice, there’s a good chance they will start walking through their day with more detail. They might start saying things like, “I felt really hot when I was running across the playground. So I sat down on the bench for a minute to catch my breath.”

This exercise helps kids start paying more attention to the present—and prevents them from stumbling through the day only half aware of what they're doing.


Focus on Scents

Scent is a great way to help kids become more aware of the here-and-now. An easy way to engage their sense of smell is to give them something aromatic, like a spice jar, a flower, or an orange peel.

Invite them to close their eyes and concentrate on what they smell. Spend a few minutes just paying attention to the aroma. Then ask them a few simple questions like, “What do you think of that smell?”

Helping kids become more aware of their sense of smell can remind them to literally stop and smell the roses!


Focus on Breathing

A simple way to quiet your child’s mind is to teach them to pay attention to their breathing. Encourage them to close their eyes and and focus on their breathing.

Teach them to return to observing their breath when their mind wanders.

The exercise shouldn’t change their breathing. Instead, it should be about helping them become more aware of their breaths and how their body and lungs feel when they're mindful.​


Cool the Pizza

“Cool the pizza” is another breathing exercise that will help your child become more aware of their bodily sensations. Tell your child to breathe in through their nose like they're smelling a piece of pizza. Then, tell them to blow out through their mouth, like they're cooling the piece of hot pizza.

Practice this often when your child is calm. Then, when they're angry or anxious, remind them to become more mindful by saying, “Cool the pizza.”


Have a Blindfolded Taste Test

It’s easy to scarf down food without paying attention to the taste. Get your child to be more in tune with their taste buds by doing a blindfolded taste test.

Blindfold your child and give them a small bite of a specific food, like a banana or a strawberry. Tell them to move the food around in their mouth for a minute and see if they can tell you what it is.


Savor the Flavor

Another way to involve your child’s sense of taste is by encouraging them to savor the flavor. Give them a specific piece of food, like a piece of candy or a raisin.

Encourage them to look at the piece of food for about a minute. Then, have them put it in their mouth but tell them not to chew it right away.

Instead, instruct them to pay attention to how it tastes and how it feels in their mouth. They may experience textures or tastes they've never noticed before.


Draw an Everyday Object

Give your child an ordinary object, like a leaf or a rock. Encourage them to hold it in their hands and spend some time looking at it. Even though they probably see similar objects all the time, looking at it more closely can give them a new perspective.

Then, tell them to draw the object. Encourage them to take their time and include some details. Just make sure they know it’s not an art contest.

The point is to help kids pay attention and focus on one thing at a time.


Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is all about learning to pay attention to muscles in different parts of the body. The goal is to learn to relax muscles that may have become tense without the individual even noticing.

Tell your child to lie down. Then, tell them to tighten and then relax specific muscle groups one at a time—starting with their feet and then their calves. Keep going until you get up to their head.

There are many different scripts you can use, depending on the age of your child. There are also online tutorials or audio programs that can help walk your child through the steps.


Listen to the Bell

For this exercise, use a chime or a real bell if you have one. If you don’t, search for an online app or video that sounds like a real bell. Pick one where the sound reverberates for at least 10 seconds.

Tell your child to listen to the bell. Then, tell them to close their eyes and see if they can hear it better when their eyes are closed.

You also can tell them to sit quietly and count how many times you ring the bell. Over the course of several minutes ring the bell. Allow for variable amounts of silence in between rings.

With practice, your children will become more comfortable with silence. And they may improve their focus and concentration.


Practice Yoga

Yoga is a great way to increase your child’s awareness of the connection between their mind and their body. Kid-friendly yoga poses can help them become more mindful.

Sign your child up for a yoga class or look for kid-friendly yoga videos to practice at home. You can practice yoga together as well and incorporate it into your daily routine. Like other mindfulness practices, yoga will teach your child coping skills.

The more kids are able to be present in the moment, the better they'll be at self-regulation.

And it’s important to remember that mindfulness should be an ongoing practice. Take time every day to practice mindfulness skills with your child. When you make it a priority in your life, your child will see that it’s important to be in tune with the present.


Start a Gratitude Journal

Girl writing in journal

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images

Your child just needs a journal and a pencil for this activity. Let them pick out a special journal or notebook. Each day, have them write down three things they are grateful for. Encourage them to get specific about what they're thankful for and why. Many kids enjoy drawing a picture to go with their list.


Guided Meditation

Child meditating


Find a guided meditation for kids on YouTube or somewhere else that you can access the audio. Your child should lie down in a dimly lit room at a comfortable temperature (about 70 degrees Fahrenheit) and follow the meditation. Try doing it together with them.


Forest Bathing

Girls spending time in a forest

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Forest bathing, or immersing oneself in nature, helps us get away from the world's distractions and into a state of stress-free relaxation. All you have to do is find a forest or another nature-filled area and spend time there. Encourage your child to use their five senses to explore and to experiment with walking quietly together.


Rock a Stuffy to Sleep

Girl with stuffed animal

Stanislaw Pytel / Getty Images

For this mindfulness exercise, have your little one lie down on their back and place a favorite stuffy or other toy on their stomach. As they breathe, tell them to watch and focus on the toy's up and down movement. Have them imagine that they are rocking the stuffy to sleep.


Counting While Breathing

Kids doing a breathing exercise

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Sit on the floor cross-legged, facing each other. Have your child place their hand on their belly and inhale as you count from one to three. Then have them hold it and exhale and you count down from three to one. Continue this exercise until you and counting up to 10 and back down.


Stop and Smell the Flowers

Girl smelling roses

MoMo Productions / Getty Images

Take this trope literally to tap into mindfulness with your child. Find a place with flowers, whether it's a garden, a park, a flower shop, or a section at the supermarket. Take some time to breathe in their different scents and to try to describe them to each other.

If you know the flower's names, you can follow up by trying to identify them while blindfolded or with closed eyes.


Walking Meditation

Child walking

Tom Werner / Getty Images

It can be extra-hard for kids to sit still and many kids can clear their minds easier while moving. Enter walking meditation. Get ready to take a walk, but first talk about what it means to be mindful as you move.

Tell your child that they should focus on what the different parts of their body are feeling and doing, while letting any other thoughts that enter their minds go. Walking meditation can be easier because it gives kids something to focus on, rather than trying to get them to think about nothing at all.


Edible Gardening

Boy planting basil

Catherine Delahaye / Getty Images

Gardening together is a mindfulness activity that can last over several sessions. You can germinate seeds, plant them, and watch them grow. They'll need watering, pruning, and harvesting. Then the fruits or vegetables will need to be prepared or cooked before tasting.

There are so many opportunities to focus on the five senses while gardening. While you work together to grow and prepare food, ask your child to describe what they see, smell, feel, and when appropriate, taste.


The Silence Game

Child on tiptoe

Cavan Images / Getty Images

To play the silence game, set yourself up across a room from your child. Close your eyes or place a blindfold over them. Wait a little and then whisper their name.

When they hear their name, your child's job is to approach you from across the room, making as little noise as possible.

5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Fodor IE, Hooker KE. Teaching mindfulness to childrenGestalt Review. 2008;12(1):75. doi:10.5325/gestaltreview.12.1.0075

  2. Meiklejohn J, Phillips C, Freedman ML, et al. Integrating mindfulness training into K-12 education: Fostering the resilience of teachers and studentsMindfulness. 2012;3(4):291-307. doi:10.1007/s12671-012-0094-5

  3. Furuyashiki A, Tabuchi K, Norikoshi K, Kobayashi T, Oriyama S. A comparative study of the physiological and psychological effects of forest bathing (Shinrin-yoku) on working age people with and without depressive tendencies. Environ Health Prev Med. 2019;24(1):46. doi: 10.1186/s12199-019-0800-1.

  4. Walking Meditation. University of California at Berkeley.

  5. Montessori, Maria (1972). The Secret of Childhood. (M. Joseph Costelloe, Trans.).

Additional Reading

By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, an international bestselling author of books on mental strength and host of The Verywell Mind Podcast. She delivered one of the most popular TEDx talks of all time.