My Miss 8 has always been a good sleeper, ever since she was around 7 weeks old when she started sleeping through the night – while we were travelling on an interstate trip, no less! However every now and then, when she has something on her mind, she will come to us for help as she is having difficulty falling asleep. With a recent study of 20,000 Australian children finding that 41% of children worry sometimes (as opposed to almost never or never) and 1 in 5 children reporting that they felt worried most or all of the time, it’s unlikely that are children will navigate childhood without feeling worried or stressed at some stage. And really, that is how it should be. Stress, worry and anxiety are a normal part of life. And while it can be difficult to see our child struggle with the causes and symptoms of stress, there are things we can do to help them. And one of those things is supporting them to learn mindfulness strategies that just might help them to manage their physical and emotional symptoms of worry or anxiety.
Recently, Immy and I started using the Smiling Mind app as part of her bedtime routine. It is a fabulous mindfulness tool for kids (and adults!) and it has been such a successful addition to our routine – helping Immy to achieve a very relaxed state in preparation for sleep – that it sent me on a search for other good quality mindfulness apps for kids. Today I am sharing five that I have been using with both of the girls.
But first – what is mindfulness? And why use it with children at all?
Mindfulness is a meditation practice that begins with paying attention to breathing in order to focus on the present, instead of focusing on worries or concerns, what-ifs and may have-beens. For children, mindfulness exercises can help them to develop self awareness, to pay better attention and to concentrate. They can help children decrease anxiety, to calm down when upset or feeling out of control of a situation, and it can help them learn to handle overwhelming emotions more calmly.
But why use an app for that? These apps include short, developmentally appropriate mindfulness exercises that have been developed for use with children. They are a great tool for teachers and parents (at least those of us who are not meditation experts) to use to guide children through a short meditation or mindfulness/breathing exercise. We are fast becoming big fans.
5 Mindfulness Apps for Kids
These are the apps we are currently using;
Smiling Mind: Smiling Mind “aims to build happier, healthier and more compassionate people. Our mindfulness meditation programs are designed to assist people in dealing with the pressure, stress and challenges of daily life.” The app includes the most extensive library of meditations to use with children aged 7-12 years, teens and adults. There are also meditations developed for the classroom, workplace and for sporting teams/individuals. While Immy chooses from the 7-9 year old exercise library, I have also used the shorter, bite sized meditations with AJ (who is 4 1/2) – it’s a different, less relaxed exercise with a little one but she will lay and listen with me. This is currently our favourite mindfulness app. Free.
Meditations for Kids by Highly Meditated: Meditations for Kids includes 10 short themed meditations (plus an introduction to parents) as well as six relaxing environmental sounds/music pieces. The meditations use guided imagery to help children learn to manage worry and anxiety, everyday stress, fidgeting, calmness and fear of the dark. Most suitable for children aged 6+ years. Currently $1.49AU.
Wellbeyond Meditation for Kids: This app includes 5 short ( 3-10 minutes) meditations themed to focus on focus (focusing mentally on what is right in front of you), feelings, kindness, entering and sleep. Free.
Super Stretch Yoga: This one is popular with AJ at 4 1/2 years of age as it includes a more physical element than the other apps featured here. Integrating visual images of children doing a series of 12 simple yoga poses, it helps younger children to stretch their bodies, rest their minds and focus in their breathing. For ages 4+. Free.
Sleep Meditation for Kids by Christiane Kerr: While this app only includes one free 13 minute guided meditation, it is of a very high quality and my girls really like it. Parents can purchase further meditations by the same author within the app. These are mostly longer meditations, and include themes suitable for younger children and teens. For ages 4+. Free with further in app purchases.
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