We all need to take time out to find moments of calm – especially during uncertain times. Mindfulness, which means being focused on the moment to allow for stillness and reflection, is a good way for adults and children to deal with anxiety and the many pressures of daily life.
Children are often so busy with school and extramurals or sport that there is little time for reflection. The pandemic has heightened their anxiety levels, with children as young as two showing signs of depression.
Cognisant of the prevalence of anxiety among children, toy company Mattel and Calm, the mental wellness brand with the #1 app for sleep and meditation, partnered on ways to encourage mindfulness in children. Using the beloved characters of Thomas & Friends™, they have created bespoke meditations and Sleep Stories suitable for a young preschool audience. These encourage children to take some time out of their adventure-filled days to find moments of calm. With age-appropriate teachings from their friends in Sodor, children are able to “Cool down with James”, or “Spread kindness with Rebecca”.
Benefits of mindfulness
- It improves focus; helping children manage distractions.
- Meditation opens their hearts, allowing them to experience joy and happiness.
- It’s an effective tool to manage stress; especially a time when there is so much uncertainty.
- By encouraging calm, mindfulness allows for a more peaceful home environment.
- It improves sleep.
For more information about mindfulness
Ways to introduce mindfulness to children
- Use physical activities to instil mindfulness. This could be a walk in nature or a cycle in the mountains.
- Use a child-friendly app, such as Calm. With the Thomas & Friends™ meditations, children learn to manage difficult emotions, while the Sleep Stories improve their sleep. Children love doing things that are fun, so involving the much-loved engines from Sodor will certainly make mindfulness more engaging. The six meditations are four to six minutes long, and feature Tamara Levitt, Calm’s Head of Mindfulness, as well as a Thomas & Friends™ character. Aimed at children between the ages of two and four, the stories also inspire kindness and build confidence. Calm also has three Sleep Stories:
- “Return to Sodor”, which features Thomas and a journey around the Island of Sodor. It is narrated by Mark Moraghan, the well-known voice of the Thomas the Tank Engine series.
- “Percy and the Lioness” features Percy and is set on railways throughout Africa, narrated by Nigerian actor, Chike Okonkwo.
- Actress Kate Winslet features in the holiday-themed “Thomas and the North Star”.
- Practise mindful breathing with guided meditation.
- Colouring-in is also a good way of encouraging mindfulness. Children can work with patterns and colours that reflect their feelings.