Help Your Kids Find Calm With These Mindfulness Apps
Courtney: Hey, if your child struggles with temper tantrums, stress, or even anger, there are apps that might be able to help.
Marianne: Julissa and our favorite nerd on call have more about how to find them.
Julissa: There is an app for everything, right? I love it. All right, so yes, Ryan is here. My kids…they definitely have some temper tantrums and if you tell me there’s an app for that, I’m going to download it.
Ryan: There is, at my house, we practice mindfulness. In fact, we call it the magic trick. So whenever there’s a problem or they’re getting frustrated, we just say, “Hey, just take a few breaths, relax, just calm down.” It’s the magic trick it makes everything better. So there’s benefits to this. It can increase attention and focus. It increases impulse control like when they’re getting up, develops emotional regulation, stress, and anxiety. So kids go through different kinds of stresses than we do. I didn’t know how frustrating it was to put your shoes on but apparently, it’s pretty stressful.
Julissa: It can be very, very frustrating. Yes, I get that.
Ryan: So our first app we’re going to talk about is. This is called Breathe, Think, Do by Sesame Street. This is totally free. What’s cool about it is you’re introduced to this little monster and he goes through the same kinds of things that kids go through. So he’s trying to struggle to put his shoes on. There’s a little animation. You pet his belly and he starts to calm down and he starts to breathe. And then you get these thought bubbles, you pop those and he comes up with a strategy or a plan. And then he goes through with that plan to figure out what to do. And it’s pretty cool. You go from shoes to like separation anxiety, to sharing and to going to bed at night. So kind of really helps you [crosstalk 00:01:25].
Julissa: [inaudible 00:01:26] also have in Español?
Ryan: Yes, they have a bunch of different languages, so it’s pretty nice. Next, this is called Mind Yeti, so you’re introduced to another little avatar. This little guy here…he’s got hubba bubbles. I think they’re called hubba bubbles.
Julissa: Will call them that.
Ryan: Anyway, there are these little issues that kids deal with all day and the different thoughts and it teaches them how to kind of control those through these little audio lessons and kind of says, “Hey, you know, if you’re having trouble getting through putting on your shoes or going to bed or calming down, these are just little things you can do”. They’re about two or three minutes long, they could put little headphones on and just kind of cool themselves down.
Smiling Mind is kind of cool. With this one it’s good for all ages. Even adults can use this one. When you open up the app, it starts asking you little questions about how you’re feeling today. And then it kind of designs a little mindfulness for you, a way to calm down and meditate. Again, it just kind of walks you through some basic steps to just breathe and kind of stop reacting to things and instead respond.
Julissa: Take a moment.
Ryan: Yeah, just take a second. And then this one here is called Mindful Powers. Again, you get another little avatar. I brought him up on the screen here.
Julissa: Okay, let’s see. Come on in here.
Ryan: So he again represents how you’re feeling and right now he’s a little shy. So if we pet him, he’ll usually wake up and start feeling a little better. Come here, wake up, little man. Now, apparently, he’s not going to, he’s sleeping.
Julissa: He’s camera shy.
Ryan: Yeah but you’re supposed to be able to pet him and then he’ll start to change colors and as you pet him he obviously calms you down and makes you feel a little bit better. Let’s see. Mindful play, let’s see if we can get him to work. No, he’s taking too long. Okay, but you get the idea. It’s the same basic thing. He’s the avatar for the child. He goes through the little issues. Maybe he now feels a little shy or whatever, you pet him, make him feel better and just makes the child nice and calm.
Julissa: Very cool. I like that. It’s a good way to start off the New Year too. There you go.
Ryan: And all of these are free.
Julissa: We love that even more, all right.
Ryan: You do have to pay eight bucks a month for this one if you want to get into the premium content but the rest of them are totally free.
Julissa: Okay. I like these. Worth giving them a try anyway. All right, Ryan, always great to see you. Thank you so much. We got Ryan’s info linked up to ours, if you really have any issues with your computers or your phones.
Courtney: Call that guy.
Julissa: He knows. All right, back over to you.
Courtney and Marianne: Thanks, you too.
Marianne: Well, impress your friends with a new lingo. Coming up…
Technology is great for broadening kids’ minds.
All this enrichment comes with a downside though. Kids can easily get overstimulated. Temper tantrums, distraction, irritability—these may all be signs that it’s time to introduce some calm and mindfulness. A focus on mindfulness has been shown to yield a number of great benefits for kids, including increased attention and focus, reduced stress and even increased empathy and compassion.
While a good walk in the park works wonders, there are also a number of interesting technological options to consider.
Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame
Designed for kids aged 2 to 5, this little gem of an app (available for iOS and Android) is a beautifully simple way to teach children about managing everyday frustrations.
One particularly wonderful thing about this app is that it’s targeted.
It uses playful muppet monsters to help kids visualize ways to tackle such practical problems as how it feels not to be able to tie your shoes, why it’s important to take turns and how to deal with separation anxiety. Sesame Street has always “got” kids, and this app is no exception.
iOS users, for a similar app experience, check out Mind Yeti.
Smiling Mind sets its sights from kids aged 7 right up to young adults aged 18.
Developed by psychologists and educators, this app focuses on helping young people build their own strategies for handling their biggest stresses.
It has a vast range of age-appropriate interactive sessions focusing on topics such as developing social skills, dealing with conflict and planning for the future.
Mindful Powers takes a very different approach. Rather than helping kids find specific solutions to life stresses, it instead emphasizes instead the process of finding calm.
Kids are encouraged to pet and look after an incredibly cute character knows as a “Flibbertigibbet.”
The sensory-based repetitive action coupled with the empathic process of caring for a virtual creature can trigger the body’s rest response. It can be an effective tool in helping kids take a deep breath and slow down for a moment.
Calm is a rare commodity these days! These mindfulness apps may be a useful way to help your kids take a step back from the daily stresses of life.
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