Grounding exercises support this healthy response in children by encouraging them to be present and mindful of their surroundings.
We can practise mindfulness while we are moving as well as while we are still. The following exercise is suitable for children of all ages.
For this exercise, tell the children that you are taking them on a ‘noticing’ walk. Explain that you want them to really pay attention to their surroundings and see how many things they can spot that they haven’t seen before. Invite them to get up close to those things and really notice their colours, textures and smells. Designate one minute of the walk where you are all completely silent so that you can pay attention to all the sounds that you can hear around you, such as the leaves on the trees, the birds tweeting, cars passing by, and so on. At the end, invite the children to share what they discovered.
The ability to stay present to what is happening inside us and around us is a key skill that enables us to be aware of how we are impacted by what is happening around us and to take appropriate action that keeps ourselves safe and regulated. The following exercise will support children to start to develop this skill of staying present.
Turn your attention inside and scan through your body. What sensations do you notice – perhaps warmth or cold, tightness, heaviness, lightness, fuzziness, dullness and so on.
Now focus on each of your senses in turn. How does your skin feel as it makes contact with your clothes, the chair, the air around you? What can you taste? What can you smell? What sounds can you hear all around you?
Now open your eyes and look all around you. What can you see in the room? Pay particular attention to the colours, shapes and textures of the objects in the room.
Close your eyes and return your attention to your senses: What sounds can you hear? What can you smell? What can you taste? What can you feel on your skin?
Finally, draw your attention further inwards back to the inside of your body. Notice the sensations in your body. Is there any change from before?