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Want to know how to get toddlers to meditate or how to teach your toddler mindfulness?
Or know if toddlers can even meditate?
This is how I taught mindfulness meditation to my three-year-old!
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Can Toddlers Meditate?
The short answer is yes, toddlers can meditate. But, meditation for toddlers looks drastically different than meditation for adults or even older kids.
As you’re probably aware, toddlers have a very short attention span!
The more bombarded with technology our children get, the more important it is for us to teach them how to quiet and focus the mind.
How to Get Toddlers to Mindfully Meditate
Getting toddlers to sit and meditate in the traditional way is probably a no-go. Toddlers need things to be fun to peak and keep their interest. Sitting and paying attention to the breath is anything but fun for a toddler.
This is where mindfulness games for toddlers can help so much in lengthening your child’s attention span! These games will also help them pay attention to their breath.
Mindfulness Benefits for Young Children
Teachers who implemented mindfulness practices in their classrooms noticed a greater sense of calm in the room. They felt their students were more empathetic towards their classmates, paid attention for longer periods of time, and were more detail-oriented in their work. (Perceptions of Mindfulness Practices with Young Children)
With my own 3-year-old, I’ve noticed an improvement in his behavior and sleep.
He was also severely speech delayed, and with the help of mindfulness and a speech therapist for 20 minutes/week, he has progressed immensely!
How Do I Teach My Toddler Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is easier to teach to toddlers than you think. Even reading a book can be a form of mindfulness. Mindfulness is any activity where they are fully present and concentrating on one thing (sometimes the breath).
Fun Mindfulness Games for Toddlers!
I started playing mindfulness games with my son when he was two. He is now three, and we still play these mindfulness games often to lengthen his attention span and increase his concentration and focus!
Even after playing them for a whole year, he still loves them (especially dandelion blowing!)
I aim for at least 2 – 5 minutes with each game, but some days he will play a lot longer than that! It all just depends on what we have going on that day and what the mindfulness game is.
1. Stuffed Animal Belly Breathing
This is a wonderful way to wind toddlers down for a nap or before bedtime! Have your child lay on their backs and place their favorite stuffed animal on their chest or belly.
Tell them you are going to count to three or five while they slowly breathe in to make the stuffed animal raise up on their chest. (It helps my son for me to hold my hand above the teddy. Then I ask him to slowly raise the teddy and try to touch my hand with him.)
Next, ask your child to slowly blow out all the air as the teddy lowers for a count of three or five (your choice).
Repeat 10 – 15 times. You may have to build up to this, but just keep going! (When I first started my own mindfulness meditation practice, I could only focus for 30 seconds! So, be patient with your toddler!)
I like to run an essential oil diffuser with lavender and turn the lights low while playing this game. It is a great game for rainy days!
Sometimes, it helps to offer them their favorite healthy snack afterward as an incentive.
Get some other ideas for breathing exercises for kids here:
2. Staring Contest Improves your Toddler’s Focus (And is Really Fun!)
Yes, you read that right! Have a good old-fashioned staring contest with your toddler! They think it’s hilarious! And, as an added bonus, you get them to be mindful for a minute or two. 🙂
Stare at each other, and of course, whoever blinks first or looks away, loses! Make sure to make it a friendly competition though and let them win sometimes to keep it going.
You can add in questions or observations after each round about each other’s eye color, the length of lashes, the number of lines around your eyes (they won’t judge you!)… etc.
3. Mindfulness Chanting with your Toddler
Yes, my three-year-old chants with me! He’s been doing this since he was about two-and-a-half. I like to practice different chants, especially OHM to open my third-eye chakra.
It was never intentional to get my son to do this or make it into a game, but sometimes monkey-see, monkey-do.
Today, he chanted, “Mmm”, with mommy’s OHM’s for about 12 minutes while sitting on my lap. All the while, my 1-year-old looked at us like we were crazy! (LOL!)
If chanting OHM isn’t really your thing, you can teach them simple mindfulness mantras, or positive affirmations. These work great in schools for teachers and students, too. Simply choose a phrase or set of words that are positive and calming, and repeat them with your child between 10 and 50 times!
Go slow, use a positive tone, and make a point to breathe at the same time.
Here are some examples:
- “I am strong”
- “Peace and love”
- “I am here now”
- “Breathe in peace, breathe out stress”
4. Nature Observation Walk
We walk as a family. A lot. We also go on nature hikes, play in the streams, dirt, mud; we play with sticks, plants, and throw rocks.
While walking or hiking in nature, I ask my son a lot of questions to help him be mindful and notice his surroundings. I ask him what color plants are, where the moon and certain flowers are. We listen and I ask if he can hear any sounds, and where he thinks they are coming from.
If there is a butterfly, ladybug or pill bug, I make a big deal out of it. Then, we follow and observe all the beauty nature has to offer.
5. Sky Gazing
Another simple mindfulness activity to do with your toddler, is sky gazing. Look up at the sky! I used to do this for hours as a child! (Since we only had one tv and three channels!)
Sky gazing is an amazing form of meditation to do with little ones! It instantly calms them and teaches them to focus. Plus, it is fun to try and find shapes, animals, and colors in the clouds!
I point out the moon, stars, sun, clouds, planes, birds, and helicopters! Basically, if it’s in the sky, we talk and marvel about it.
Sky gazing is so much fun, even my one-year-old lays on the grass and does it!
6. Dandelion Blowing
Another great mindfulness nature game for toddlers is dandelion blowing. I’m not sure the groundskeeper at the school we do this at loves it, but my toddler sure does!
We practice sucking our breath in for a few seconds and then blowing on the dandelion for as long as we can.
Over and over and over…
My three-year-old loves this mindfulness activity! I’m pretty sure he could do this one all day!
We’ve done it for over an hour and he still protested when I said it was time to come home.
Dandelion blowing is a great way for toddlers to learn breath control, improve lung function, and interact with nature!
7. Candle Staring and Blowing
When it’s cold outside and blowing dandelions is out of the question, candle blowing is a wonderful indoor alternative.
There are two ways to use the candle to keep your toddler’s attention and practice mindfulness. One is staring at the flame of a candle.
This is especially fun when done in no or low light. There is something beautifully hypnotic about watching a candle flame flicker.
My son will usually watch this for a solid 20 minutes at least!
The next option is candle blowing…
Candle blowing for toddler mindfulness is the same principle as dandelion blowing. We count in for three seconds and blow out the candle for three.
A great trick I stumbled onto is using tricky relight candles!
My son blows the flame out and laughs when it magically relights! Like the dandelion, he’ll practice his breathing and blow the flame out over and over and over…
8. Animal Breath Sounds
An easy way to get your toddler to pay attention to their breath, practice mindfulness, and have fun is mimicking animal breath sounds!
A couple of my favorites are the snake and dragon!
The book, I Can Breathe Like A… is a great book for animal breathing ideas.
Snake Mindfulness Breath for Toddlers
To practice the snake breath, simply ask your toddler to breathe in a deep breath while you count to three or five. (Again, you might have to work up to five. Be patient!)
Then, have them copy a hissing, “Sssss”, sound while blowing out all the air.
To make this more fun, you can watch a snake video with your toddler, print out and color a snake picture, or get a stuffed animal of a snake.
Then, whenever you put on the video, pull out the picture, or get out the stuffed snake, your child will know it’s time to do the snake hiss breath!
Dragon Mindfulness Breathing for Toddlers
To practice the dragon breathing technique, ask your toddler to breathe in deeply while counting to three or five.
Then, have them copy you as you both make a deep growling, “Haaaaa”, sound. (It helps to stick out your tongue). Let out all the air you can as you exhale.
Ask your toddler to follow along with you.
Again, you can watch a dragon show, print out a picture, or get a dragon stuffed animal to make this more fun for your toddler!
For more fun animal breathing and posing ideas, check out: Clever Ways to Breathe with Your Kids to Calm Down
Download the visual Breathing Cards from the Kumarah Yoga Free Resources Library here:
9. Sensory Mindfulness Guessing Game for Kids
This mindfulness game helps your toddler learn to be present, mindful, and pay attention to their five senses.
To play this game, you will need 5 – 10 items that are different textures, smells, temperatures, etc.
Some examples of objects that are great to play with are:
- Cotton Balls (For touching)
- A Rubber Ball (For touching)
- Ice (For touching)
- Warm Water (To dipping their hand in. Just make sure they’re potty trained!)
- Feathers (For touching or tickling!)
- Play Dough (For touching)
- Play Slime (For touching)
- Flowers (For smelling and touching)
- Kid Safe Essential Oils (For smelling)
- Show your toddler each item.
- Next, ask your toddler to close their eyes. Put an object in their hand or in front of their nose (if it’s a smelling object).
- Have your toddler open their eyes.
- Ask them to guess what they just smelled or touched! You can even include tastes if your toddler trusts you enough!
This game is great for toddlers to learn their senses and teaches them to be present and mindful within their body. Plus, they think it’s so much fun!
Final Thoughts on Teaching Your Toddler Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness and learning to be present has many great benefits for you and your toddler!
These include stress reduction, increased concentration, detoxification, and improvement in overall well-being, just to name a few.
Teaching your child mindfulness from an early age, such as in toddlers, makes it easier for them to keep the habit into adulthood.
Check out these other articles for Mindfulness and Meditation tips and ideas:
Do you practice mindfulness with your toddler or children?
What games have you tried? How have they worked out for you? Please comment below!
Thanks for reading 🙂
Before starting her own website, Jamie worked on projects for many large companies including Novell, Toyota, Zero Halliburton, and Signing Time.
Jamie is a mother of two adorable little humans, who is passionate about helping others heal, spiritually awaken, holistically parent, meditate, eat healthily, and manifest the life of their dreams!
You can connect with Jamie through her website or social media!