Heart, Body and Mind
Heart, Body and Mind
We want to provide you and your children with the opportunity to check in with your Heart, Body and Mind regularly.
There are lots of fun activities listed below to keep your children engaged, and activities that the family can do together. It is also important that you as the parent takes care of yourself. The Wellbeing for Parents section, provides you with tips on how to check in and be kind to yourself.
Some activities below will have instructional videos, other have instructions written out below or as downloadable PDF’s. It’s better for the environment to try avoid printing these PDF’s where possible.
Wellbeing for Parents
This section is for you, the parent to focus on yourself. We know parents lead very busy lives and during times of stress, parents might be very focused on the wellbeing of their children. This is a gentle reminder that it’s ok to mind yourself too, in fact, it’s important that you look after yourself so you can be completely present for your children.
Tapping can be a powerful stress relieving technique.
Tapping regulates the nervous system by putting the body back into its relaxation response. This supports the immune system, digestive system, reproductive system, and endocrine (hormones) system to function as it should.
Try this step by step instructions on how to relive your stress and anxiety by tapping various parts of your body.
Download and print our PDF Instructions for this activity, or read them below. (Tip: print in black and white to save on your ink).
- Identify a problem/issue you have been having. It can be general anxiety, or it can be a specific situation or issue which causes you to feel anxious.
- Consider the problem or situation. How do you feel about it right now? Rate the intensity level of your anxiety on a scale of 0 to 10, with zero being the lowest level of anxiety and ten being the highest.
- Create a tapping statement. Your tapping statement should acknowledge the problem you want to deal with, then follow it with a phrase of acceptance.
Tapping statement examples;
– “Even though I am feeling worried, I accept how I feel”
– “Even though I am feeling frustrated with this situation, I accept how I feel”
- Using four fingers on one hand, begin tapping the Karate Chop point on your other hand. The Karate Chop point is on the outer edge of the hand, on the opposite side from the thumb (see diagram below).
- Repeat your tapping statement three times aloud, while simultaneously tapping the Karate Chop point. Now take a deep breath.
- Now, tap about 5 to 7 times each on the remaining eight points on your body, in the sequence described below. As you tap on each point, repeat a simple reminder phrase, such as “my worry” or “my frustration” to help you mentally focus on your issue.
Where the eyebrows begin, closest to the bridge of the nose.
Side of Eye
On the bone directly along the outside of either eye.
On the bone directly under either eye.
The area directly beneath the nose and above the upper lip.
This is the area just below your bottom lip and above the chin, right in the crease.
Starting from where your collar bones meet in the centre, go down an inch and out an inch on either side.
On your side, about four inches beneath both armpits.
Top of Head
Directly on the crown of your head.
- And take another deep breath!
- Now that you’ve completed the sequence, focus on your problem again. How intense is the anxiety/worry/frustration now, in comparison to a few minutes ago? Give it a rating on the same 0 to 10 scale. Did you notice a shift?
It’s important to take moments throughout your day to mind yourself.
If you are a stay at home mum/dad, working from home or back in the office, create your own wellbeing plan for your day.
Rituals allow families to slow down and connect. We have all had time to slow down over the past few months. Let’s not forget the good feelings this brought.
Despite life getting a little busier now, remember to make time to incorporate special moments into your family life.
Try out some of these Family Rituals
Read the list together as a family and tick off the ones you would like to try!
- Have each family member share one kind thing that they did that day
- Create your own family handshake
- Choose a moment in the day where everyone sits, plays and laughs together
- Go on a weekly nature walk
- Create a rotating chore chart which changes ever Friday
- Make storytime a feature of every evening, taking turns to read or tell a story
Give yourself a moment to focus on your breathing, helping you feel calmer and relaxed and more present in your body.
Use the instructions from Big Life Journal to help you.
- When you wake up
- Take a moment
- Notice how your body feels: Are you tired/achy/refreshed
- Allow yourself to take a few deep breaths
This one is for you the parent.
This guided gentle morning yoga flow will set you up for a great day.
Remember how important it is to take time for yourself to check in with yourself and be present.
The heart activities focus on understanding and managing feelings. These activities will support your children to foster feelings of kindness for themselves and others. Together you can help your child to learn more words to describe their feelings and support the daily practice of recognising how things make us feel.
Finger-painting can be an excellent stress-reliever. The experience of using your fingers to create something fresh and new can be very uplifting emotionally and psychologically.
Everyone can benefit from this activity so why not try it together?
Recommended age 6 months +
Download and print our easy PDF Instructions for this activity, or read them below. (Tip: you can print in black and white to save on your ink).
Benefits of Finger Painting Feelings:
- Encourages your child’s senses (Touch/feel, sight, smell, edible finger paint = taste)
- Helps a child’s intellectual development (Learning new colours)
- Strengthens the hand and fingers which helps with fine motor skills.
- It’s FUN!!
*If your children are 6 years+ you can choose to use any regular paint. However if you are doing this activity with a baby/toddler (6 months+), see below how to make edible finger paints.
- Explain to your child that all feelings are OK and that everyone can feel lots of different feelings every day.
- Ask your child to name some feelings they know?
- Now ask your child to match a feeling with a colour E.G. they might say Happy = Light Blue, Angry = Red, Sad = Yellow. Allow them to come up with these themselves as it is their interpretation that is key.
- Encourage them to finger paint those colours onto the paper (in whatever form they wish) and help them label what feelings they have shown in their picture.
- Ask your child how they are feeling today?
Adaptation for 6months +
A simple finger painting activity with edible paint
Ingredients for edible paint:
- 4 Tablespoons of corn flour (corn starch)
- Cold water
- 1 Cup (237ml) of boiling water
- Liquid food colouring
Method to make edible paint:
- In a medium saucepan, mix the cornflour with enough cold water to make a paste. (Not too runny).
- Pour in 1 cup (237ml) of boiling water and stir thoroughly so there are no lumps.
- Turn on medium heat on the hob and mix. The mixture will start to change and you will notice some clear streaks forming in the mixture. Once you see this, turn off the heat and continue stirring. It will start to thicken and turn into custard-like consistency.
- Spoon equal amounts into empty jars, cups or containers and add food colouring. Mixing until completely combined. E.G. 3 drops of yellow, green, red and blue. To make orange, add 1 drop of red and 2 yellow and to make purple, add 1 drop of blue and 2 red.
- This paint can be stored in the fridge covered with cling film for up to 2 weeks. This paint recipe does not have any preservative in it, so it is important to check that the paint has not expired before giving it to children.
Why not spend some time together as a family creating a special love jar, which shows each member of the family how much they are loved.
Family love is a special type of love that comes with its own unique feelings, behaviours, challenges, and rewards.
It is important not only to tell our family members how much we love them and why, but to also show them how much we love them by the things we say and do every day for each other.
Recommended for: the whole family.
Read the guide below, or download and print the PDF (Tip: print in black and white to save on your ink).
Family Love Jar Activity
- A large jar (or, a cardboard box will do)
- Pieces of paper
- Pen, coloured pencils/markers
- On multiple pieces of paper, ask each member to think about the things they love about their family members. Support your children to write down the things they love about the people close to them. Below are some helpful prompts to get everyone writing:
– Special memories you have shared together
– Words to describe how they make you feel
– Ways in which they have shown you love, support and encouragement
– Words to describe how much you love them
– Funny stories you shared together
– Why you appreciate them
– Why you are grateful they are in your life
- Put the pieces of paper into your Jar. Try to fill it all the way to the top.
- When you pop the lid on – tie the string or ribbon around the top of the jar and decorate it.
- Try to create a family ritual that each week you will choose a few notes to read out loud so that all members of the family can be reminded how much they are loved. This ritual could be before you play a game together, or watch a movie together as a family.
Here is a short guided meditation from Louise Shanagher.
This is a nice time to reflect on the past few weeks with your children. It’s good to make some time to think about themselves, their families and their school friends, whom they may not have had a chance to say a proper goodbye to this year.
This guided meditation helps us make kind wishes for people in our lives.
Recommended for ages 6+
The Body activities are divided into breathing activities and muscle relaxations – activities to help your child release tension from their body and to increase their sense of calmness. (TIP: The best time to teach a breathing technique is when the child is calm.)
Creating a mindfulness sensory ball is a fun and creative way to release any tension or nervous energy in our bodies.
They can help us centre ourselves in the present moment, strengthen the muscles in our hands and fingers and provide an outlet to relieve any frustrations we might have.
Download a PDF of instructions for this activity here.
Hopscotch improves your balance and co-ordination. It will also enhance muscle strength whilst having fun with friends and family.
This hopscotch challenge is about wellbeing. Each square has a wellbeing challenge associated with it, so that when you ‘conquer’ a square, you complete the challenge assigned to it. The game can be played together with family or friends or on your own.
Download a PDF of instructions for this activity here (including a list of materials you will need).
Encourage your child to follow along to this video, where Barnardos Project Worker Stephanie demonstrates how to do a simple mindful breathing exercise just using your hand.
Finger breathing can slow our breathing down and make us feel calm. Ask your child how they feel after?
Recommended ages 6+
When we engage our senses in a unique way we can tap into a part of our brain and bodies that makes us feel calmer.
Why not create your very own Sensory Bag/Kit with your child and include different items that they enjoy which you know will make them feel calm and relaxed in moments when they might need it.
Follow these simple instructions and get the Rainbow Rice Effect! This activity uses our sense of touch. Playing with different textures can help us feel calm.
Recommended for age 3+ (Supervision required for younger children)
- Improves fine motor skills
- Get used to different textures
- Explore different colours
- 1 cup of uncooked Rice (Per colour)
- ½ teaspoon of water (Per colour)
- 15-20 drops of Food Colouring of choice (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple)
- Sandwich bags (Resealable bags)
- Place 1 cup of rice into each bag
- Mix ½ tsp of water + 15-20 drops of food colouring per colour
- Zip up the bag and shake shake shake until the colour has spread evenly (If you need to add more colouring and water do that now)
- Place the rice out onto a piece of parchment paper or tin foil and allow to dry
- Repeat with your other colours
- Once completely dry you can mix all the colours together in a storage container or lunch box
- Now enjoy the rainbow rice effect!! Rub your hands in between the rice, cup the rice and move your hands in and out
We understand the importance of children taking time to slow their breathing and connect with the present.
By now your child might have tried different types of breathing activities and might have found one or two that work for them. Continued encouragement from you will support their mastery of breathing calmly which has a huge benefit on their Heart, Body and Mind.
Here is an activity which the whole family can get involved in, starting from a young age.
Developing and using their gross motor skills supports your child’s physical development, and it has also been shown to have a positive impact on learning, and important school day functions, such as attention and memory.
Body awareness is a vital tool you can support your children with. With every movement or exercise they do they are learning more about how their body moves and their awareness of themselves in the space around them.
Download and print our PDF instructions and dice template (Tip: print in black and white to save on your ink). Or read the instructions below and if you don’t have a printer, you could get creative and draw the outline of the dice template on a piece of paper or card.
- Download/draw the dice template.
- Use a scissors to cut out the dice template.
- Fold the dice template on the dotted lines – sellotaping it together.
- Once you have folded your cube dice, you’re ready to get moving. Why not make a game of it. Each take turns to roll the dice and act out whichever movement you land on. Demonstrate first yourself.
- Encourage your child to use big and small movements.
- Remember to ask your child afterwards how and where they feel it their body.
- Be silly and have fun with it!
The Mind activities will support your child to have an awareness of their own thoughts and learn how to increase positive thoughts. It will help the whole family be more present with eachother.
This short visualization and body awareness meditation is for the whole family to try.
Take a quiet moment in the day and encourage everyone to listen to this meditation. Maybe afterwards plan your day at the beach together.
Listen to the mediation on Soundcloud – also available wherever you get your podcasts, just search “Day at the Beach Barnardos”.
It is normal for our minds to feel very fuzzy sometimes when we have lots of thoughts and feelings floating around. Here is a way to help your child settle their mind using a mindful breathing technique, the Glitter Jar.
This activity supports children to understand that our minds can feel very busy at times which can feel very overwhelming but there are ways to help us calm our minds.
Glitter Jar (Mind Jar)
This activity can support children (and adults) when there are feelings of overwhelm. It can also be a useful mindfulness breathing tool.
- An empty jar or bottle with the label removed
- Different coloured glitter
- Explain to your child that the different coloured glitters are like our different thoughts and feelings. Ask your child to think about the different thoughts and feelings they might have in a day.
- Fill the jar with water.
- Invite your child to put some of each coloured glitter into the jar and name the feeling or thought as the do this.
- Put the lid on tight and get your child to shake the jar. Ask your child what they notice? Explain to your child that at different times in our life our minds can feel very busy, like this jar with lots of different feelings and thoughts (glitter) floating around.
- Now ask your child to close their eyes, put their hands on their bellies and breathe in for 4 and out for 6, repeat this 5 times. (Alternatively they can do any breathing technique they prefer).
- Ask your child to look at their mind jar/bottle and notice what has happened? Explain to your child that when we take time to breathe slowly, our minds become calmer, our thoughts and feelings (glitter) are still there but we can see clearer now.
- Encourage this practice regularly with your child, using the jar as a visual at first and then the need to use the jar will become less and less as they will have mastered mindful breathing.
Here are some journal prompts for children to help them notice and feel gratitude daily.
When we feel gratitude in our lives we can truly appreciate and feel happy in ourselves.
Showing kindness to ourselves is just as important as showing it to others, in fact we need to show it to ourselves in order for us to know how to show it to others. Support your child with these daily acts of kindness.
Download and print our PDF template or read below (Tip: print in black and white to save on your ink).
- Journal prompt – What is your favourite thing to do with your family? Why are you grateful for them?
- Act of kindness – Give each member of your family a hug and remind them how much you love them.
- Journal prompt – What talent do you have that you are grateful for?
- Act of kindness – Tell someone today what they are good at.
- Journal prompt – What is one thing you love about yourself?
- Acts of kindness – Say the thing you love about yourself out loud, or into a mirror three times.
- Journal prompt – Think about a time someone helped you. Send gratitude to that person.
- Acts of kindness – Choose 3 people to say thank you to today.
- Journal prompt – What’s your favourite Season? Why are you grateful for it?
- Acts of kindness – Think of a gift you received for Christmas that really made you smile, write a thank you note to the person for the gift and tell them why it made you smile.
- Journal prompt – How do you cheer yourself up when you are feeling bad?
- Acts of kindness – Take 5 slow deep breaths.
- Journal prompt – Think about one moment in 2020 that you are grateful for.
- Acts of kindness – Smile to yourself.
Positive Self Talk is really important to practice. This Inspiration Stones activity helps us to remember what makes us happy, what we are grateful for and reminds us to think and say positive things about ourselves each day.
Follow our instructions below or download them and see how to decorate your own inspiration stones. Recommended for ages 3+
- Collect stones of different shapes and sizes. It can be helpful to find stones with at least one smooth surface.
- If the stones are dirty, rinse them off under running water and let dry.
- You can decorate directly on the stone, or you can paint a base layer of white or other light coloured paint. Allow the base coat to dry.
- Decorate your stones with words or sayings to remind you of things that bring you happiness and gratitude, or that might remind you to relax, or even positive affirmations about yourself. You can use pens, markers, glitter or paint to decorate your stones. Acrylic paint works great but poster paint works well too.
- Let your stones dry.
- If you wish, you can protect your stones and make them last longer by putting a final clear coat on – you can do this using clear nail varnish or even by brushing your finished stones with PVA glue. This is really important to do if you are going to place your stones outside.
- Place your stones in places around your home or garden where you will see them and feel happy, grateful, calm or good about yourself!
Photo: Stones painted by 3 year old, 8 year old and their Mum.