Mindfulness for ADHD Children

by | Dec 10, 2023 | Mindset

Mindfulness can be very beneficial for kids (and adults) with ADHD.

In this article, we’ll explore the basics of mindfulness, a straightforward yet powerful tool, and look at how it can make a real difference for those with ADHD. From improving focus to managing those quick impulses, mindfulness has a lot to offer.

We’ll walk you through easy ways to get started and highlight the practical benefits it can bring into your daily life.

Whether you’re completely new to this or looking for more insight, you’re in the right place to learn how mindfulness can be a practical ally in your ADHD journey.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a mental practice that involves focusing your awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

It’s often used as a therapeutic technique to help manage a variety of mental health conditions, including stress, anxiety, and depression. In the context of mindfulness, the goal is not to empty the mind of thoughts, but rather to observe them without judgment and to bring attention back to the present experience.

This can be achieved through different practices, such as meditation, where one might focus on their breath or a particular object, or through mindful activities like walking or eating, where the focus is on the sensations and experiences of the activity.

Mindfulness helps to create a state of mental calmness and clarity, improving emotional regulation and concentration.

Introducing Mindfulness to ADHD Children

I like to explain mindfulness to children by saying that mindfulness is like having a superpower that helps them to slow down and notice everything around them and what they’re feeling inside.

It’s like when you use your eyes to look at a beautiful picture, only with mindfulness, you use your mind to pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and what’s happening around you.

For kids with ADHD, who sometimes feel like their thoughts are running super fast like a race car, mindfulness can be like having a special brake to slow down those racing thoughts. It can help them feel less jumpy, more focused on homework, or even help them not get upset so quickly.

Imagine blowing bubbles – when you focus on each bubble, watch how it floats and pops. That’s being mindful. It’s a way to help the brain take a break and be calm.

4 Benefits of Mindfulness

Mindfulness has shown promising benefits for all people, but especially for children with ADHD. Here are some of the benefits.


One of the key benefits is improved psychological well-being.

Brown and Ryan’s research underscores the role of mindfulness in enhancing psychological well-being. Their work involved the development of the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) and demonstrated that mindfulness is associated with improved self-regulation, positive emotional states, and reduced mood disturbances and stress, particularly in cancer patients.

 

Another benefit is the reduction of impulsivity. 

Mindfulness encourages a pause-and-respond approach rather than a react-on-impulse behavior. By being more aware of their thoughts and emotions, children with ADHD can learn to pause before acting, leading to more considered and less impulsive actions. This can have a positive impact on their interactions and decision-making.

One study investigated the mediating effect of emotion regulation on the relationship between mindfulness and impulsivity among high school students. They found that mindfulness increased emotion regulation skills, which in turn reduced impulsivity in high school students. This suggests that mindfulness can be an effective tool in managing impulsiveness, especially during adolescence, a period vulnerable to risk-taking behaviors.

 

Emotional regulation is another area where mindfulness proves beneficial.

The emotional dysregulation often experienced by children with ADHD can manifest as quick temper flares or mood swings. Mindfulness practices teach children how to recognize and understand their emotions, providing them with tools to calm themselves during emotional upheavals.

Miranda L. Virone’s research on middle school students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) demonstrated that a mindfulness intervention improved symptoms of emotional regulation and impulse control. The study highlighted that mindfulness practices, both formal and informal, can be beneficial in enhancing emotional regulation among adolescents with ADHD, thereby improving their social and educational participation

 

A fourth benefit of mindfulness is improved attention and concentration. 

Improving Concentration and Mindfulness in Learning through Meditation” by D. Grewal discusses how meditation, as a self-regulation practice focusing on training attention and awareness, can foster mental well-being and develop specific capacities like calm, clarity, and concentration.

It emphasizes the role of mindfulness in directing the power of concentration and how their cooperation results in insight and understanding, beneficial for effective learning.

This study suggests that mindfulness and meditation practices can have a beneficial impact on attention and concentration, particularly in educational settings.

To read about another study done on the benefits of mindfulness on kids with ADHD, go here.

How to Incorporate Mindfulness Into Daily Routines

Here are some tips to help incorporate mindfulness into the daily routines of children with ADHD:

Start with Short Sessions:

Begin with brief periods of mindfulness practice, as children with ADHD may find it challenging to focus for long durations. A few minutes of focused breathing or mindful listening each day can be a good start.

 

Create a Mindful Space:

Set up a quiet and comfortable space in your home dedicated to mindfulness activities. This designated area can signal to your child that it’s time to calm their mind and body.

 

Lead by Example:

Children often emulate adult behavior. Practice mindfulness yourself and share your experiences with your child. This not only sets an example but also helps in building a shared routine.

 

Use Guided Imagery:

Guided imagery involves leading the mind through a series of calming images or scenarios, helping to focus attention and evoke a sense of tranquility. It’s a mental escape, where through visualization, one is transported to a peaceful and calming place or situation.

The process typically involves a guide or narrator (which can be a parent, teacher, or an audio recording) describing a scene in vivid detail.

Children are encouraged to engage their senses in this imagined environment – visualizing the sights, sounds, smells, and even the feel of this place.

Here are some examples:

The Secret Garden: Guide the child to imagine a lush, serene garden filled with their favorite flowers, trees, and perhaps a gently flowing stream. Encourage them to explore this garden in their mind, touching the petals, listening to the birds, and feeling the soft grass under their feet.

Space Adventure: For children fascinated by the cosmos, take them on an imaginary journey through space. Visualize boarding a spaceship, floating among stars, planets, and galaxies, feeling the calm and silence of the cosmos.

Ocean Journey: Lead them to visualize a peaceful beach with soft waves lapping the shore. They can imagine walking along the beach, feeling the sand between their toes, finding shells, and watching the horizon where the sky meets the sea.

Mountain Retreat: Guide them to picture a majestic mountain scene, perhaps with a clear lake. They can visualize hiking trails, feeling the cool mountain air, and sitting by the lake, watching the water ripple gently.

Guided imagery can be particularly effective at bedtime or during breaks in the day.

 

Practice Mindful Breathing:

Teach them breathing exercises using fun techniques. For example, have them blow bubbles slowly to learn controlled breathing, or pretend to blow up a balloon to teach deep breathing.

 

Engage in Mindful Movement:

Yoga or tai chi can be excellent for children with ADHD. These activities promote awareness of the body, balance, and calmness.

 

Make Use of Apps and Books:

Utilize mindfulness apps designed for children or read books that introduce mindfulness in a kid-friendly manner. These resources can make the concept more engaging and accessible.

 

Encourage Expression of Thoughts and Feelings: 

Post-mindfulness, ask your child to share their thoughts or how they feel. This can help them process their mindfulness experience and make it more meaningful.


Be Patient and Consistent: 

Remember that mindfulness is a skill that takes time to develop, especially for children with ADHD. Be patient and consistent with your efforts.

Techniques to Help Kids Practice Mindfulness

Here are several practical mindfulness techniques tailored for children, including how to practice them and tips to make them engaging:


Balloon Breathing:

Instruct the child to imagine their belly as a balloon that inflates and deflates. They breathe in slowly through the nose, expanding their belly, and then exhale slowly through the mouth to deflate.

Use a real balloon for demonstration. This visual aid can make the concept more tangible and fun for kids.

 

Mindful Body Scans:

Have the child lie down and close their eyes. Guide them to slowly focus on each part of their body, from their toes to their head, noticing any sensations or feelings. Use some of the guided imagery story ideas above!

 

Mindful Eating:

During a meal, encourage the child to focus on the taste, texture, and smell of their food, eating slowly and deliberately. Make the first few bites a game, asking them to describe the flavors and textures as if they were food critics.

 

Five Senses Exercise:

Ask the child to name five things they can see, four they can touch, three they can hear, two they can smell, and one they can taste. Do this exercise in a park or a garden where the sensory experiences are rich and varied.

 

Nature Walks:

Go for a walk and encourage the child to notice the natural surroundings using their senses. Ask them to point out colors, sounds, and smells. Make a checklist of things to find on the walk to make it more interactive.


Mindful Coloring:

Provide the child with coloring books and encourage them to focus on the process of coloring, noticing the colors and sensations.

 

The Pause Practice:

Teach the child to take a short pause and take a few deep breaths before reacting in stressful situations. Role-play with them to practice the pause in different scenarios.

 

Listening to Music Mindfully:

Play a piece of music and ask the child to close their eyes and focus on different aspects of the music, such as the instruments or the rhythm. Choose a variety of music types to keep it interesting and discuss the feelings each type evokes.

 

Games that Teach Mindfulness:

  1. The Mindful Jar: This game involves a clear jar filled with water and glitter. Shake the jar and let the child watch the glitter settle. It’s a visual metaphor for chaotic thoughts settling down through mindfulness.
  2. Mindful Listening Bell: Ring a bell or chime and ask the children to listen carefully until they can no longer hear the sound. This helps enhance their focus and listening skills.
  3. The Breathing Buddy: Have children lie down with a stuffed animal on their belly. They should focus on the rise and fall of the stuffed animal with each breath, teaching them to pay attention to their breathing.
  4. The Mindful Maze: Use finger mazes or labyrinth toys to have children trace the path slowly and mindfully. This helps them practice focus and patience.
  5. The Freeze Game: Similar to the classic game, children dance to music and freeze when it stops. During the ‘freeze’, they can practice mindful breathing or notice how their bodies feel.
  6. Mindful Snack Time: Turn snack time into a mindful activity. Have kids focus on the taste, texture, and smell of their snacks, eating slowly and without distraction.
  7. The Spider-Man Meditation: Inspired by superheroes, this game involves pretending to have ‘spidey-senses’. Ask the child to notice everything they can see, hear, and feel, just like Spider-Man would.
  8. Nature’s Symphony: While outdoors, have the children close their eyes and identify as many sounds as they can, from birds chirping to the wind blowing.
  9. The Senses Game: Challenge children to use their senses to explore their surroundings. Ask them to name things they can see, hear, smell, feel, and taste.

Remember, the key to mindfulness for children is to keep the practices light, fun, and engaging. Encouraging regular practice, even if it’s for just a few minutes a day, can help integrate mindfulness into their routine.

Taking Care of Yourself as an ADHD Parent

As we focus on providing the best care for children with ADHD, it’s vital for parents to remember that their well-being is equally important.

Parenting a child with ADHD can be demanding and some days are just plain hard , and neglecting your own self-care can lead to burnout and decreased effectiveness.

Practicing mindfulness yourself can be a powerful tool for maintaining your own mental and emotional health.

Remember, when you are well-rested, calm, and emotionally balanced, you are in a better position to support your child effectively.

Get Started Reducing ADHD Symptoms Today

One way to take care of yourself is to arm yourself with strategies to reduce the symptoms of ADHD in your children.

To further equip yourself with these essential skills, we invite you to watch our free ADHD Fast Class. 

This resource is designed to provide you (in less than 20 minutes) with practical, effective techniques to begin reducing your child’s ADHD symptoms, sometimes in only a few weeks!

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About the Author'

Hi, I’m Dana Kay, and I am a Board Certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Practitioner. My goal is to assist families who have children with ADHD, through nutrition and functional lab testing and to discover HIDDEN stresses and dysfunctions, as well as implementing a holistic and all-natural family approach to health and wellness.

Book your free call with one of my expert team members to help you take your next step toward a healthier, happier home. There is absolutely NO RISK. It’s free, and there are no obligations. All we will do is chat about how we can help you get to where you want to go!