Meditation, mindfulness, and gratitude: How to playfully introduce your child to the world of personal development
Most people don’t encounter the world of personal development until adulthood. Mindfulness, gratitude, self-reflection, and other personal development tools are often HUGE game changers for people - because once you start practicing them, many areas of life change for the better.
How amazing would it be to gain access to these gifts at a young age?
Personal development can easily be integrated into the lives of children in a playful way. The earlier children have access to powerful tools like mindfulness and self-reflection, the more likely they are to continue these practices in adulthood. After all, it’s normal for them!
At Vertellis, we’re huge proponents of facilitating emotional development in children - whether it’s with our products or other planned projects. (Check out our budding Vertellis for Education initiative!)
I (Vanessa) do not have kids; however, my little sister is fifteen years younger than me. Even though I haven’t lived at home for a long time, whenever we meet, I share my personal development techniques with her. I know how much I’ve benefited from meditation, mindfulness and gratitude and want to give her an outlet to explore these tools, as well!
With that in mind, today, I want to share 3 ways to playfully introduce the world of personal development to kids. These can be used with your own kids, grandkids, or even younger siblings! Before we dive in, here’s a quick recap of the 3 tips:
Three Ways to Playfully Introduce Kids to Personal Development
1) Do mindfulness exercises while going for a walk.
2) Make gratitude a common ritual.
3) Disguise meditation as a fun fantasy trip!
Tip # 1: Try mindfulness exercises while going for a walk
Most children enjoy being outside - playing and romping in the woods or in the garden. This is a wonderful time to practice mindfulness techniques that are fun! (P.S...this is also a great exercise for adults).
The first mindfulness exercise is to visualize the environment with your eyes closed. Then, go through these steps together:
- 5 things you could just see
- 4 things you can just hear
- 3 things you can feel (if the child is open to it, you can take their hand and have them feel different things: the tree bark, the moss, the flowers...)
- 2 things you can just smell
- 1 thing you can taste right now
The senses and numbers can be exchanged - these are only suggestions! With my little sister, we often stop from our walk, close our eyes abruptly, and go through these steps together. Kids have a lot of fun with this method!
The second method of mindfulness can also be applied outdoors - it’s especially good for a walk.
This involves thinking about a word before the walk, then trying to re-enact the individual letters of the word. All you need is a camera (you can use your phone!) and lots of imagination.
For example, if the word is HOME, then together you search on the path and in nature for anything that looks like the letters H, O, M, and E. These can be sticks, a tree, signs, forks in the road...the imagination knows no limits. Each letter is photographed individually and at the end, the letters can be combined into one word.
Since kids are looking for the right letter, they automatically observe their environment much more attentively.
Tip # 2: Establish gratitude as a common ritual
You probably already know that children appreciate routines...but did you know they also need them for their development? Be it a bedtime story or lunch with Grandma every Thursday after school - all these routines give children a feeling of security.
With this in mind, why not create a routine or ritual from an early age that shows your children the benefits of personal development? Maybe you and child tell each other 3 things you’re grateful for before bedtime. Or perhaps you share your favorite moment of the day. This can actually be a great exercise for the whole family - whether at bedtime or at dinner.
A nice way to keep this gratitude ritual alive is with Vertellis KIDS. Vertellis KIDS is a mindfulness diary that helps children understand their emotions, make good choices, and build healthy habits. It also gives you a place for you and your child to document what you’re grateful for and look back at it over time. By having this daily gratitude practice, kids begin to go through their day looking for things to be grateful for...how magical is that?!
Tip # 3: Meditation disguised as a fantasy trip
Most kids are crazy about stories. There’s a reason bedtime stories are so popular! Stories relax the body and stimulate the imagination, especially before bedtime. The same is true for meditation.
When I tried to teach meditation to my little sister, she wasn’t thrilled to sit on a pillow for 10 minutes - and who can blame her? That's a challenge for many adults! But when I introduced her to “fantasy travels”, she was totally excited.
Fantasy travels, or imaginative journeys, are meditations especially for children. (You can find a bunch of them on YouTube!). Fantasy travels are great for falling asleep because sitting or lying still isn’t as difficult. These help children come into contact with the power of silence at a young age and (hopefully!) bring this habit into adulthood!
We want to hear from you!
I sincerely hope that you enjoyed these three tips and that they’ve encouraged you to explore personal development with kids in your life.
If you're already a mom or dad, how do you teach your kids about the world of personal development? What methods are particularly important to you in educating your kids?
We look forward to hearing from you! Drop a comment below, or share your experience on social media using the hashtag #myvertellismoment.
Vanessa works for Team Vertellis from her home country of Germany. She loves to write - for others and for her own blog - but also can spend the afternoon with her nose in a good book. When she’s not reading or writing, you can usually find her outside: walking, hiking or inline skating. She describes herself as cheerful and open to new experiences!