I was recently asked how to introduce mindfulness to a child who is not interested in meditation. Many children associate mindfulness with sitting meditation, but mindfulness is much more than that.

Sitting practice is just one way to experience and train mindfulness skills. If we think about it, we can find many opportunities to playfully integrate mindfulness into our day.

“Mindfulness is not really about sitting in the full lotus, like pretending you’re a statue in the British museum. It’s about living your life as if it really mattered, moment by moment by moment.” —Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

One way to help your child get used to the concept of mindfulness is to show how mindfulness works for us during ordinary daily activities. You can show your child how doing things mindfully and with curiosity can make mundane tasks more rewarding.

We can eat mindfully, listen mindfully and even wash our hands mindfully. We can pause and attend to the moment, observe and feel the water, smell the soap, enjoy the feel of damp, clean hands. Mindfulness can be experienced with the help of all our senses. Try washing your hands mindfully today and see how it feels to be fully immersed in a simple activity.

With this mindfulness activity, children and adults can…

Learn how to be more aware of their surroundings,

Find a new, active way to calm down,

And develop focusing skills.

Playful Mindfulness For Children – Walk on a Rainbow

Purpose: Awareness of Surroundings and Details, Focus, Calm

Best for ages4+

What you need: Nothing!

This is a simple activity that will teach the child to be mindful of his or her surroundings. Before you begin, have a quick discussion to remind him of the colors of a rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). Then, step outside.

Throughout the walk, ask the child to find something to represent each color of the rainbow. He could bring a small notebook to jot down his answers, or he can simply take note of them in his mind.

Depending on the surroundings, some colors will be more difficult to locate than others; this is part of the fun! Try to keep walking until he’s found an example of every color. As he grows, this strategy might turn into a daily mindful habit.

When done, ask how it felt to be mindful of his surroundings. Was it fun? Was it calming?

I hope that your family will enjoy this exercise. May you be happy and healthy!

P.S. Here’s a post on how to explain mindfulness to your child.

See also:

Eat mindfully

Listen mindfully

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.