During the holiday season, it can be super hard to take a chill pill when things are getting a bit out of hand—which let’s be honest, happens a lot. And while we as adults may be better off with coping (again—somewhat better), kids really have a lot of work to do to center themselves and avoid getting heated in an emotional moment.
Luckily, a few mediation exercises can help. Work on these five with your kids to help them keep the peace this busy, holiday season.
Do the Superman Pose
“One popular mindfulness exercise with kids is body poses. The Superman pose is standing with your feet just wider than your hips, fists clenched, arms reached out forward, stretching the body out as long as possible,” says psychiatrist Jared Heathman, MD. This pose not only stretches the muscles, but also allows your child to feel each muscle flexing and stretching to promote a sense of awareness.
Have Them Be Aware of Surroundings
“Next is telling your child to turn on the ‘spidey senses.’ Ask them what they see, hear, smell, taste, and feel to ground your child to the present,” says Heathman. You can do this in the present moment, identifying things around the room, or you can also go for a walk in nature. “You can also take your child on a mindfulness walk. Tell them to identify different bugs and plants they see to heighten their awareness of their surroundings,” he says.
Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation
“Progressive muscle relaxation is also a great way to do mindfulness with your kids by enhancing a feeling of calm before quiet activities such as bedtime,” says Heathman. “Have your child sit with their legs crossed or lying down. Counting to ten with each step, have them tense and relax each muscle in their body from their head down to their toes,” he says. By the end, you’ll have mastered the whole body and have created a sense of calm in each muscle group.
Do Breathing Exercises
Breath work is a great form of meditation and it’s easy to implement for young kids. “Have your child sit in a comfortable position with their eyes closed. Do slow counted breathing, four in and four out. Slowly increase your count to longer inhales and exhales,” says Heathman. This breathing technique will promote relaxation with your child and decrease stress, helping them get through the holiday season before having a tantrum (we all know what those are like!).
Do a Gratitude Exercise
Appreciate the wonderful things in your life this holiday season, and let those positive vibes outweigh any bouts of tension. “Start each day by asking your child to share three things he or she is thankful for or lucky to have. Give your child a hug or a high five after each one an opportunity to bond on gratitude,” says Sarah Vaynerman, founder of Work From Om®, which provides mindfulness training to companies. They can also keep a gratitude journal to add to each day or week of the holiday season, where your child has it for themselves or can share with others.