The body scan is a quick and effective mindfulness practice to help with stress and overwhelming emotions such as anger. With children you might want to start with “Mindful Feet,” a shorter body scan exercise that can be done in a few minutes anywhere you can sit or stand.
Mindful Feet is great way to get familiar with scanning the body and can be a lot of fun to do.
Children can use the exercise…
To calm down when overwhelmed,
Before a test in school to reduce anxiety,
To take their mind off waiting,
Or while lying in bed trying to fall asleep.
Try and see how it makes you feel, then try it out with your child.
Mindfulness For Children – Mindful Feet Body Scan For Children
Purpose: Body Awareness, Calm, Relaxation
Best for: Ages 5+
What you need: Nothing
You can start by asking your child to remove her shoes to make the activity even more relaxing. Then ask your child to sit or stand relaxed with both feet firmly on the ground.
Ask her to breathe normally and take a moment to notice how she is feeling right now. This exercise is easier to do if you close your eyes, so ask your child to close her eyes if she feels comfortable doing so.
Then ask her to bring her attention to the soles of her feet by pushing them softly against the ground for a short moment. Ask her to pay attention to her feet, how they make contact with the ground and possibly her shoes. How does it feel? Soft or hard? Can she feel her socks? Give her time to focus and investigate.
Continue to ask her questions: How do her heels feel? Her toes? Can she feel the space between her toes? Ask her to move her toes a little bit and try again. You can even ask her to locate each toe individually by having her pay attention to them one by one.
Be curious. Ask if her feet are warm or cold. If you happen to be outside, is there a slight breeze to be felt on the skin? A tingling sensation somewhere?
Whatever is happening, simply ask her to rest her attention there. See if she can have her mind think about her feet and nothing else.
If your child is sitting down, you can expand the exercise to include the contact points between her and the chair. Can she feel the chair under her? How about her back resting against the chair?
Keep the exercise short, but give your child enough time to focus and get immersed.
End by asking her how she feels and if she can think of any situations when this exercise could be useful. Is she more focused and more calm after the exercise?
The body scan is an essential mindfulness exercise and helps us get to know our body and our feelings. It helps us become more receptive to the messages our body sends us – the building stress on our shoulders or a feeling of hunger in our stomach. The body scan also helps us direct our attention away from inner dialogue, stress and worry. You can use it in a stressful moment to help you avoid the reactive mode that we often get into. Use it when you need to focus and calm down.
I hope that your family will enjoy this exercise. May you be happy and healthy!
PS Here’s a full guided body scan for kids from Mindful magazine, by Mark Bertin, author of “Mindful Parenting for ADHD.”
And a guided body scan for you to try out:
If you are new to mindfulness with children we recommend that you read our guide: How To Practice Mindfulness With Children – The Essential Guide
Chris Bergstrom is the co-founder of BlissfulKids.com and a dad who is thrilled to practice mindfulness with his son. He is a certified mindfulness facilitator, and trained to teach mindfulness to students in K-12. He’s also an executive consultant, and has taught meditation for more than 10 years.