5 Mindful Bathtime Activities for Children

Since today is World Meditation Day, here are some tips about the benefits of mindful bathtime moments for your child and what activities you can do to help your child be mindful - and enjoy it!

What is Mindfulness for children?

child focusing during mindful activity in the bathMindfulness is when you use your five senses to engage 100% with what is happening in the world around you - not judging and assessing, or being overwhelmed by it, but simply noticing.  Children often 'live in the moment' and throw themselves into whatever they are doing - playing with a sprinkler in the garden completely absorbs my boys. But the 'not feeling overwhelmed' aspect can be more difficult - emotions can be extremely strong and tricky to control. 

Taking time to deliberately Be Mindful has benefits for all of us, but hectic children can particularly benefit from slowing down and observing.  Children’s lives are so jam-packed these days and, with increasing rates of mental health issues at all ages, it's a great to teach children some simple techniques that they can then use whenever they want - for the rest of their lives.

What are the benefits of Mindfulness for children?

Doing some Mindful activities with your children can help them be:

mindfulness for children in the bath
  • Calm - that's why bathtime is a perfect for Mindfulness. Being reflective can help shift the mood from a busy day to a peaceful evening. This makes it a great addition to the bedtime routine
  • Focused - being Mindful can help children increase attention and self-control. 
  • Empowered - by practising observing and regulating their emotions, children have these skills in their toolkit, ready to use at stressy or difficult moments.

What is a mindful moment for children?

A mindful moment is when we put our thoughts completely towards a particular aspect of the world around us now.  So, just lying in the bath relaxing and thinking about whatever comes to mind is a lovely thing to do sometimes. But the particular benefits of mindful meditation happen when we focus only on the present and what is going on around us and inside us now.

Children need to be guided to focus on a specific point, for example thinking about their bodies and the physical sensations that different parts are feeling.  Mindful moments with children don't need to be too serious - we want the experience to be fun, so it's fine for mindful moments to be playful.

How can I help my child practice mindfulness in the bath?

It can be fun to do some of the activities together (you lying on bathroom floor if necessary!) so that you can gently model what to do.

It doesn't need to be for long. You want it to be enjoyable for everyone, so build up slowly. Two minutes of calmly thinking about how different parts of their body feel is still beneficial and helps them gain Mindfulness skills.

Child being Mindful in the bath, focusing on how his leg feels.

Don't worry that your session needs to be quiet - children like chatting! It's fine to discuss what you and your child are experiencing to keep your child focused. Eventually they may wish to keep their observations internal but there is no rush.  When you feel your youngster is beginning to get the hand of Mindfulness, you could progress to suggesting "Think about it for a couple of minutes and then tell me" when asking things like "What can you hear right now?" This encourages your child to have an internal mindful moment before sharing their thoughts with you.

Since Mindfulness is about different senses, you might want to think about:

Sounds - you could play some gentle music, or just listen to sounds of sploshing

Smells - you can use any particular smells that your child likes. This will help them focus on being in the moment. Lavender is very calming if you have some drops of lavender essential oil.

What are some Mindful Activities kids can do at bathtime?

1) Squeeze and Let Go (Muscle Relaxation)

When your child is lying comfortably in a shallow bath, encourage them to tense and then relax their muscles in different parts of their body.

To do this give them specific instructions that they can understand:  Curl up your toes (to tense feet), Point your toes toes up (to tense calf muscles), Pull your tummy button in (to tense stomach muscles), Make your hand into a fist and scrunch it (to tense hand muscles) etc.

For each body part count slowly to three while your child squeezes that area, then ask them to gently breathe out and let go. Talk about how the different parts of their body feel before and after they tense the muscles

2) Cup of Water

Ask your child to describe what the water around them in the bath feels like. What is the difference between their hand in the water and and out of the water - how does moving through air and water feel different?

Then give your child a cup of cool water. What does that water feel like in their mouth? Then, when they swallow a sip, what does that feel like? Can they feel the cool liquid run down their throat? Can they see their tummy move as they swallow? 

Child being Mindful in the bath, lying in the water with their eyes closed visualising.

3) Picture in my head (Visualisation)

Ask your child to think of someone who makes them happy. What exactly does your child love about them? What is the person doing when your child visualises them.  How does your child feel when they think about that special person?

4) Things I'm thankful for (Appreciation) 

For this activity, your child thinks of good things today. It can be anything at all that made them feel happy and that they are grateful for. You could use Kitpas Crayons and everyone in the family writes or draws some things on the bathroom tiles that they are grateful for at the moment. 

5) Getting out Mindfully

End the bath mindfully - don’t leap out and rush back into wild activities. Maybe keep the lights dim to maintain the calm feeling, listen to the drips and sounds together as your child gets out of the bath. Then, as you gently dry them, ask how the towel feels on their skin. To finish the lovely Mindful bath, you could rub a gentle lotion on their body and suggest that they think about the smells and sensations as you do it.

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