What is Mindful Monsters?
Mindful Monsters is a monthly subscription pack created by Scope (my charity of the month by the way!), which encourages children to practice mindfulness.
In my other job working in occupational health, I frequently preach about the benefits of mindfulness for adults. At our last staff away day, I arranged a mindfulness workshop for our employees. Although everyone really enjoyed it, some people admitted to finding it difficult.
In my own experience, I’ve been trying out some mindfulness apps and was surprised to find myself struggling to stop my mind wandering. It is something that needs to be practised often to get “good” at it and get the full benefit.
And this is why I love the concept of Mindful Monsters. By teaching mindfulness techniques to children in a fun way, they can begin their practice far earlier than many of us ever did. Mindfulness practice can equip them with skills that will benefit them throughout their lifetime, and by teaching them young, the struggles we often face as adults won’t be an issue.
So why is mindfulness so great? I’m glad you asked!
Mindfulness is the practice of being ‘in the moment’, quieting your mind, and giving yourself the head space to think your thoughts and feel your feelings in a calm and pressure-free state of mind. It’s about noticing what you’re feeling in that moment, without overthinking it, and allowing yourself some peace to just be inside your own head for a while and get a non-judgemental view of what’s going on.
Practising mindfulness regularly has been linked to better mental and physical health, reducing stress and aiding relaxation.
Our little people might not have stressful deadlines to meet, but they do have a lot of big emotions, and mindfulness can help them manage those emotions. It can also help them to focus, and encourages positive thought.
Giving children the tools, or at least preparing their thought processes, to practice mindfulness will stand them in good stead to navigate their way through life. Mindfulness gives us space to reflect on our feelings, building resilience and contributing to our self esteem. The Mindful Mosters packs also actively encourage positive thinking, creativity and thoughtfulness which are wonderful life skills to teach children early.
What’s in the Mindful Monsters pack?
The Mindful Monsters pack is a neat little bundle that fits through your letterbox. It contains a selection of 7 activity cards, each featuring one of the four ‘mindful monsters’ who represent:
It also includes a sheet of stickers, a guide for parents, and the box has an area for drawing and a special challenge.
Using Mindful Monsters to practice mindfulness with my daughter
Dee and I tried out each of the 7 activities.
One of our favourites was practising breathing like different animals as part of a relaxation exercise. We tried breathing like snakes, dogs, and whales(!) and then to make it more relevant to Dee, we went off-card and practised breathing like we were blowing out birthday candles. (She’s very into birthdays!)
I’ve had opportunity to use this idea in our daily lives too. When Dee has started getting worked up about something, we’ve practised blowing out candles to calm down. Sometimes it works, sometimes she’s too far gone, but I think just feeling me deep breathing whilst holding her against my chest has a calming effect.
We also enjoyed pulling our best monster faces at each other as part of a creativity exercise. The idea was to pull your funniest monster face and try not to laugh, which wasn’t easy!
What did we think of Mindful Monsters?
I found Dee was good at the physical aspects of the activities, although many of them had a reflective question as well. I think she’s just a squidge too young to really engage with that aspect, and she was having difficulty communicating her feelings in words. As with all learning though, you have to start somewhere and I found it a great opportunity to open the conversation about such things. It provides a platform to use language about feelings, and introduce children to the key concepts of mindfulness and self reflection.
I plan to keep revisiting the cards with her and practising the different activities. I want to get us both familiar with the activities so we can draw on them in a natural way day-to-day.
The packs are loosely aimed at 4-8 year olds, but Dee and I had fun doing the exercises too so really, the whole family can get involved!
Getting involved and supporting Scope
As I mentioned earlier, Mindful Monsters has been created by the charity Scope, who campaign for equal opportunities for people with disabilities. They also happen to be my charity of the month for May 2018 (please consider donating a pound or two if you have it to spare!) Because mindfulness is so important for resilience, it’s easy to see why Scope came up with the concept of Mindful Monsters.
Every Mindful Monsters pack sold helps to fund Scope’s mission. The subscription pack is £7.50 a month for a fixed 12 months. Find out more and order yours on the Mindful Monsters website.
Have you tried mindfulness meditation? Do you find it beneficial? Would you like to encourage your child to practice mindfulness?
Full disclosure: We were sent a pack of Mindful Monsters cards in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. You can read more in my disclosure policy.