As children return to in-person gatherings, they may feel anxious and stressed. An art-based mindfulness practice can help children regulate their emotions and prevent their fears from overwhelming them. It provides a structured space for self-expression and self-calming.
Educational psychologists Dana Carsley and Nancy Heath have discovered that encouraging students to color (either free form or using a geometric mandala image) provides a significant decrease in children’s anxiety. It is an easy-to-implement practice that works at home, in a classroom, or almost anywhere a child needs help to be in the present moment.
Follow the simple steps below to create an art-based mindfulness experience that fosters focus and intentionality.
- Gather supplies. You will need mandala coloring sheets (see Related Resources) or blank paper, plus at least one of the following: crayons, colored pencils, markers, and/or chalk sticks.
- Set aside time. Build in 5-10 minutes before everyday stressful activities or 15-20 minutes before a major stressful event, like having a medical procedure or a big test.
- Prepare a space. Create a quiet space where children can color in silence or with soft soothing music in the background.
- Consider children’s individual needs. If some children get stressed out by trying to draw a perfect picture, encourage them to color a mandala instead. If a child’s finger strength or dexterity is low, encourage them to free color with chalk sticks and large movements.
- Help children focus on coloring. Avoid giving too many instructions. Instead, encourage attention and intention around the practice. Bring your child’s focus to the present by having them take a few deep breaths with you. Invite them to use their senses to notice their coloring experience (how their hand feels, what they see on the page, what they hear and smell) to stay present throughout the exercise.
- Print and color mandalas online
- Mandalas Archives - Online Coloring Book for Kids and Adults for free
- (PDF) Effectiveness of a Classroom Mindfulness Coloring Activity for Test Anxiety in Children
- Nancy Heath | Educational & Counselling Psychology
- How to Use Mindfulness in Distance Learning
- Managing Big Emotions with Mindfulness