Mindfulness can be a wonderful period of “together time.” The following mindful smiling activity can be done jointly with the child lying in a relaxed and comfortable position while the adult recites the following “script” in a quiet and soothing voice. Once the child is used to the activity, they can simply be reminded to practice on their own in times of need.
- Lying down, gently close your eyes. Breathe normally, noticing your belly going up and down as you breathe.
- Now imagine you are just waking up. Open your eyes, noticing the breath going gently in and out of your nostrils.
- Now slowly turn your mouth into a smile. A smile you would give someone you really like. Notice how your lips feel. Are they together, or are your teeth showing? Are they warm, cold, or something else?
- Now notice your cheeks. Does your smile push your cheeks out or up? How do they feel? Warm, cool, or something else?
- Now notice your eyes. Does your smile change anything about your eyes? Are they more open?
- Now notice the rest of your face. Does your smile change anything else? Focus on your jaws, your ears. Move your focus to your teeth and your tongue. How do they feel?
- Now bring your attention to the rest of you. When you are ready, slowly raise yourself up as if you are getting out of bed. Gently stretch and sit back up.
HINT: Practice mindful smiling every morning when you wake up! You could put a smiley face near your bed to remind you.
Teaching mindfulness to young children has many benefits. It can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve attention span, and promote emotional regulation. Mindful smiling is a fun activity that children can practice daily on their own or with a parent/guardian. When they wake up in the morning and see the smiley face reminder next to their bed, it could be an excellent way to start the day feeling relaxed and joyful. Encouraging simple exercises like these will pave the way for a more mindful and emotionally resilient future for our youngsters.