Learning from my toddler how to practice mindfulness with curiosity

A lot of the mindfulness exercises and games I do at home are activities that my older daughter actively engages in because of her age.  My 2-year old participates as much as she is able to, but I think we need a couple of more years for her to really get a lot out of our planned activities.  The other day, however, I realized that my 2-year old spends most of her day “practicing” mindfulness just by doing what she does best- exploring everything with intense curiosity and wonder.

We’ve started doing weekly walks right before her music class to just leisurely pass about thirty minutes we have together before her class begins.  During our walks, my 2-year old stops every few seconds- observing, commenting, touching all the things she sees in her sight.  She touches leaves, steps in puddles, pauses when she hears chirping birds.  She looks up and down, and asks “what’s that mama?” at almost every step, when she sees simple things like wrappers and cigarette boxes.  We don’t make it very far during our half-hour walk, but it doesn’t even matter- she has a blast.  Everything is a new wonder to her and she seems genuinely intrigued to learn more.

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Superhero Mystery Game

My girls and I played a game I named Superhero Mystery Game as a fun way to practice mindfulness by tapping into the visual senses while doing something quietly and slowly.   We first put on capes and masks to become superheroes, and we gave each other superhero names: SuperHawk, SuperPrincessCheetah and SuperElmo.  This really set the tone before we even began, and my girls were immediately engaged.

We then had to quietly tip-toe through the house trying to find clues in every room to solve a mystery.  The trick was though that we had to use our superhero eyes and laser-beam focus to find clues in the house that we had never noticed before.  We whispered to each other as we walked around super sleek and stealthy. Read more

Blindfolded Fruit Tasting Game

I came up with this game to experiment with a mindful eating practice to tune into the present moment with a few key senses.

How you play

I took a single piece of fruit (a grape, a blackberry and a piece of pineapple) and put them each in a small dish.  I then placed a blindfold over my daughter’s eyes and set the 3 dishes in front of her.   She had to pick up a piece of fruit, pause, feel the fruit and describe the texture of the fruit.  She then had to put the fruit in her mouth and describe the flavors as she was eating the piece of fruit very slowly.  And then finally she had to guess what fruit she just ate, but she wasn’t allowed to tell me until she had gone through all 3 taste tests.  Once she had tasted all three, she had to name the fruit and the order that she ate them in.  My daughter loved the game so much that she wanted me and her younger sister to also play it afterwards. Read more

Cloud Shape Game…with our feelings

One of my husband’s favorite games to play with our kids is Cloud Shape Game- a great way to tap into your imagination and dream up what object a cloud looks like as they float by.  This last weekend I decided to add a bit more to the simple game and turned it into a mindfulness activity.

img_5741The Game

I found 15-minutes of mommy-daughter time with my 5-year old.  We got a couple of picnic blankets, took a pad of paper and a pencil and went into our backyard. Before we even played, we just laid on the blankets on our grass, soaked in some fresh air and watched the clouds drift by, which was extremely relaxing and peaceful. Read more

“Find the Singing Bowl” Game

This is an awesome activity recommended by a local mom, who used to play this game when her kids were younger.  It’s essentially a hide-and-seek game but with a singing bowl.  My girls and I played it this last weekend and they loved it.  First off, for any parent wanting to find a way to quickly calm the house down, a singing bowl is a must-have.  I wrote a post previously on another activity we have done with our singing bowl, and the one we got for our house.

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Guess the Letter/Shape on my Back

This activity is something that has been passed down in my family across generations- my grandmother did this activity my father, my father did it with me and now I have started doing it with my own daughters.  It’s a very simple short practice during which your little lays on their tummy and closes his/her eyes.  You then draw a letter, a shape or even a short phrase on their back with your index finger.  They tune into your touch and the movement of your finger, and try to visualize what you are drawing on their back.   Read more