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Teaching mindfulness to your child this New Year

As we roll into 2023, you may be starting to think about the fresh year ahead for you and your child. After the hectic festive season, and the big feelings that come with it for little ones, New Year can be a lovely time to help them nurture new habits and development skills. A perfect way to do this is to practise calm parenting and mindfulness, for children and for yourself.

Here, we share the benefits of mindfulness for children and tips on how to be a calm parent, with plenty of ideas for activities that encourage tots to play in the present.


What is mindfulness for children?

Before we begin discussing the benefits of mindfulness for children, it’s helpful to remind ourselves what mindfulness is. Put simply, it means fully paying attention to something in a relaxed and peaceful manner – this includes thoughts, sounds, sensations, and the surrounding environment – by slowing down to notice them. Mindfulness is the opposite of rushed, reactive, judgemental behaviours. It can be practised by adults and little ones alike – but children will need a helping hand from a parent or caregiver in the form of calm actions, kind words, or mindful activities (which we’ll share further down).


The benefits of mindfulness for children

Little ones can have huge bundles of energy and lots of complex emotions, but may not be sure how to process them. Mindfulness for children is especially positive as it helps them learn how to deal with these confusing feelings using healthy coping mechanisms.

Other benefits of mindfulness for children include:

  • Teaching empathy and compassion
  • Helping to build self-confidence
  • Reducing anxiety and worries
  • Improving focus and attention
  • Creating happier tots, all round!


How to be a calm parent

Calm parenting is so important for positive childhood development. But when toddler tantrums are in full swing, it’s sometimes difficult not to react emotionally. So, what’s the best way to learn how to be a calm parent? It starts with focusing on yourself, taking time to pause when your child is upset in order to respond in a mindful and constructive manner. Next time your mini one’s mood is stormy, try to weather it positively with these simple tips:

  1. Before you react to anything, take a moment to pause. If you need to remove your tot from the situation, pick them up, but try not to react to anything – try to simply hold them for now.
  2. Count to 10 and let your little one see you do it (modelling how to keep calm as a parent is a great learning tool for children to see emotional regulation in practice).
  3. Take a deep breath.
  4. Practise saying a mantra or affirmation that calms you. This can be anything from ‘I am here for you’ to ‘observe with an open heart’ to ‘be calm, be present’ to ‘look how little they are’. It might be an obvious, empowering statement, or it might be one with a deeper, more personal meaning for you.

This mindful approach not only helps you practise how to be a calm parent in the event of a tantrum, it can help you root yourself in the present for the good moments, too – such as soaking up your little one’s cuddles, or laughing at their silly dancing.


Mindfulness activities for children

Little ones love to learn new things, and will feel a wonderful sense of empowerment practising mindful activities for children – especially if you introduce them in the form of games, such as doll play. Here are some gentle ideas you can have a go at over the New Year period.


  • Breathing with Baby Annabell

Deep breathing is a basic but brilliant mindfulness technique that’s as positive for your child as it is for you. To help your little one stay focused, use their beloved baby doll as the focal point of the activity. As well as making life-like movements and crying sounds, Baby Annabell, Baby Alexander, and Baby Leah also make calming breathing sounds when they’re rocked to sleep – making them the perfect doll for this activity.


How to practise mindful breathing with your toddler and their doll

  1. First, take your little one to a calm and quiet space. Ask them to rock Baby Annabell, Alexander, or Leah to sleep in their arms until you can hear her sweet breathing sounds.
  2. Encourage your toddler to lie down on their back and place Baby Annabell on their tummy. 
  3. Then, get them to breathe in deeply (do this yourself first to show them how) and watch their tummies push their doll up, before slowly exhaling and watching Baby Annabell go down again. 
  4. Try to get them to breathe in and out like this for 10 breaths, encouraging them to keep watching Baby Annabell and the way their tummy moves.


This is one of the loveliest mindfulness activities for children to learn how to control their own body – in time they can learn how to use breathing techniques during stressful situations.


  • Tuning into sounds and senses

Another form of meditation for children is sensory play. This can be as simple as asking your child to stop and say what they can hear or smell, or it can be in the form of squeezy hugs with you or their favourite dolly. Baby Annabell Sophia gives the loveliest hugs, with beautiful brown or blonde hair for soothing sensory brushing.

Tuning into sounds is an easy way to encourage your little one to focus, while helping imagination and empathy to bloom. Another benefit is that you can do it anywhere – which is helpful if you’re not home and want to calm your child. 

Follow these simple steps to practise to sound meditation with your child:

  1. Choose a spot where your little one can pick out different sounds. This can be a quiet place, like their playroom, or a busy place, such as a cafe or New Year’s Eve party.
  2. Then, ask your toddler to lay or sit in the space and close their eyes. Encourage them to listen and notice all the sounds they can hear around them.
  3. If you’re at home and it’s silent, there are lots of Baby Annabell dolls and accessories that make sounds for your tot to tune into, from giggling Little Sweet Princess to the lullabies of the Sweet Dreams Crib. There’s even a sound module in Baby Annabell Sleep Well For Babies so you can record your own soothing message or sounds for teeny ones. Running water? Tweeting birds? Choose something personal that you know will calm your sweet mindful babe.

For little ones aged one and over, the Baby Annabell My First Annabell is a perfect doll to soothe anxiety in tots – with the softest hugs for mindful relaxing. Meanwhile, toddlers over two can take time out for sensory cuddles with Baby Annabell Mia and her super-squishy stuffed body.


  • Mindfulness colouring for children

Colouring helps little ones develop fine motor skills, encourages patience, and trains the brain to focus. But it’s also one of the simplest mindfulness activities for children. By taking the time to carefully choose colours, then move from one pattern to the next, it’s a simple but effective relaxation-based coping mechanism for tots. Over the New Year downtime, try mindful colouring as a family – we’ve got the cutest little lambs and flowers to print out and colour in for free to get you started.

From princess games to outdoor fun, Baby Annabell’s blog is full of activity ideas that will help you and your child have fun in the present moment, while creating memories to last a lifetime.