Saturday, August 29, 2020

Mindfulness for Children

There is a lot of talk these days about mindfulness.  It's the latest craze in health and wellness.  We see memes about it on social media, books about it in stores and libraries, videos about it on YouTube, etc.  We often told to be more mindful and to help our students and children become more mindful.  But what does that mean?  What is mindfulness?  Why is it important?  How do we do that?

Right Now, I am Fine by Dr. Daniela Owen

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the art of being able to pay attention and stay focused on the present without worrying about what happened about the past or what will happen in the future.  It is a state of mind.  When we are mindful we able to calmly acknowledge and accept our feelings, thoughts, and surroundings without having to pass judgment on them.  In it's simplest definition, mindfulness is about noticing what is happening right now.

Right Now I Am Fine

Why is being mindful important for us (and our students)?

Practicing mindfulness can provide benefits to our mental and physical health.  When we teach mindfulness strategies to our students, we can help them reduce stress, build their confidence, and help them cope with new and challenging scenarios.  Specifically, mindfulness helps us by:
  • decreasing anxiety
  • decreasing depression
  • decreasing moodiness and irritability
  • reducing outbursts and disruptive behavior
  • improving mood and happiness
  • improving self-esteem and self-confidence
  • improving emotional stability
  • improving focus, learning ability, and memory
  • increasing the ability to manage their problems

Right Now I Am Fine

How do we help our students become more mindful?

Unfortunately, mindfulness is not something we can purchase in the store.  It is not something we can learn one day and have complete mastery the next.  It is definitely not a one-and-done activity.  Mindfulness is a skill that needs to be taught and practiced regularly.

One simple strategy to get our students thinking about mindfulness and ways to become more mindful is to engage them with book talks.  For example, Right Now, I Am Fine (affiliate link to Amazon) by Dr. Daniela Owen is a new book that just came out this summer. This would be a terrific book for introducing mindfulness.  It helps children recognize how they may be feeling in response to stressful events, lets them know it's OK to have those feelings and teaches them an easy breathing, self-soothing technique.   
  • First, picture-walk through the story.  Discuss what the students see in the pictures and help them make predictions.
  • Second, read and discuss the story with the students.  Allow them to talk about times in which they felt nervous or anxious.
  • Third, practice the breathing technique that is described in the book.  Talk about how everyone felt before they tried the breathing technique and how they felt afterward.  Practice this breathing at various points throughout the day and the remainder of the week.

From Amazon:

Dr. Daniela Owen, Ph.D., an assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, has published her first book specifically to help children deal with the complications of stress and anxiety from the COVID Epidemic.

This book is a mindfully written self-help guide to aid children in dealing with stress and anxiety, by uncovering their emotions and following a simple calming routine.

Dr. Daniela Owen, Ph.D. is a clinical child psychologist in the San Francisco Bay Area. She works primarily with children, adolescents, and their families and specializes in using evidence-based treatments to help with managing anxiety, worry, anger, and low mood. Through her children’s books, Daniela brings to life concepts and strategies that can be helpful for children everywhere.

You can also watch Right Now, I Am Fine read by Dr. Daniela Own herself.


You can even download a free Right Now, I Am Fine coloring book from Dr. Daniela Owen's website.

Right Now I Feel Fine Coloring Book

Have you tried integrating mindfulness into your daily routines?  How has it worked for you?  What are some mindfulness techniques you have used that were successful?  Share your ideas in the comments below!  


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