The Awareness Teddy Bear

How can you help your toddler or young child relax and become aware of his or her breath—in a fun way? Susan Kaiser Greenland offers this simple and playful exercise.

With this activity, take only as much time as is pleasurable for you and your child. If either of you begin to get restless, bring the activity to a logical stopping point.

Ask your child to lie down on his or her back with arms and legs stretched and flat on the floor or bed. Now lead him or her through a simple body scan starting with the head and moving down the body to the toes. Here’s what you might say:

  • See if you can focus on how the back of your head feels against the floor. Now your shoulders, your upper back, your middle back, your arms, your middle, your rear, your upper legs, your lower legs, the back of your feet…
  • Boy, I feel more relaxed just watching you relax. Do you feel more relaxed too?
  • I can see your body quiet down and relax. Is your mind quieting down and relaxing too?

You can put a stuffed animal, a pillow or even your child’s hands on his or her tummy to help your child focus on the feeling of movement of the breath. Then ask:

  • Feel how your breath moves your teddy bear (or hands) up and down?
  • Breathing in, our bodies relax; breathing out, our thoughts quiet down. Breathing in, we relax; breathing out, we quiet down and feel calm.

Young children often like to pretend that the stuffed animal on their belly is real and imagine rocking it to sleep by giving it a gentle “up and down” ride on his or her tummy. You can play along too and say:

  • It looks like your stuffed animal has fallen asleep! Or
  • Your stuffed animal looks so happy and relaxed. Do you feel happy and relaxed too?

This short, simple activity promotes relaxation, body awareness and attention.


This article first appeared in Awaken, as a Mindfulness Parenting Tip of the Day. Posted with permission.