A playful approach for cultivating mindfulness in kids, with sixty simple games to develop attention and focus, and identify and regulate emotions–by the author of The Mindful Child.
Playing games is a great way for kids to develop their focusing and attention skills and to become more mindful. Susan Kaiser Greenland has had a lot of success bringing mindfulness to the classroom, and in this book she shares her experience, showing how parents, caregivers, and teachers can cultivate these qualities at home or in a school setting. She includes fifty mindfulness games that develop what Greenland calls the “new A, B, C’s” for learning and for a happy and successful life: Attention, Balance, and Compassion. In a playful way, the games introduce kids to breathing practices and techniques for developing focus, concentration, and sensory awareness, and identifying and self-regulating emotions, among others skills. They include “anchor” games that develop concentration; visualization games that encourage kindness and focus; analytical games that cultivate clear thinking; and awareness games that develop all of these qualities and give greater insight into ourselves, others, and relationships. Greenland contextualizes each game and offers guidance for the parents/caregivers throughout.
Even though the games are written for kids, they can be just as fun and transformative for adults. Greenland encourages parents and caregivers to develop their own attention, balance, and compassion and explore the universal concepts that she presents. She points out that as caregivers, our own mindfulness has a powerful effect on everyone in our lives, especially our children. They notice when we’re calmer, more composed, and more joyful, and learn by our example.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Susan Kaiser Greenland is a mindfulness and meditation teacher. She has studied meditation with teachers from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition since 1997.
Susan worked as a corporate lawyer from 1988 to 2005. During that time she developed the Inner Kids program while volunteering in public schools teaching secular mindfulness. Inner Kids is a hybrid of classical mindfulness and meditation practices that have been adapted for children, and one of the first mindfulness programs in education. Susan and her husband, the author Seth Greenland, founded The Inner Kids Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that taught secular mindfulness in schools and community-based programs in the greater Los Angeles area from 2001 through 2009. She eventually left her law practice to work with children, teachers, and parents full-time.
Susan was on the clinical team of the Pediatric Pain Clinic at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, co-investigator on a UCLA research study on the impact of mindfulness in education, and a collaborator on an investigation of mindful eating for children and caregivers. Research on the Inner Kids elementary school program has been published in the Journal of Applied School Psychology.
Quoted in numerous magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, USA Today, Real Simple, and Parents Magazine, Susan has also written for the Huffington Post and other publications. She currently works in the United States and abroad as an author, public speaker, and educator on the subject of sharing secular mindfulness and meditation with children and families.
Introduction – 1
Part One : Quieting – 7
1. Breathing on Purpose – 10
2. Anchors for Attention – 18
Part Two : Seeing and Reframing – 29
3. An Open Mind – 32
4. Appreciation – 43
5. What’s Happening Now – 52
Part Three : Focusing – 63
6. Mindful Breathing – 66
7. Spotlight of Attention – 77
8. A Peaceful Heart – 92
9. Out of Our Heads – 106
Part Four : Caring – 115
10. Isle Helpful? – 118
11. Floodlight of Attention – 133
Part Five : Connecting – 143
12. To Be, Not to Seem – 145
13. Freedom – 162
Parting Thoughts – 176
Acknowledgments – 183
Appendix – 185
Table of Themes – 188
Index of Games – 191
References – 194
About the Author – 201
Mindful Games is a remarkable book. It interweaves engaging and practical mindfulness exercises for children with a sophisticated and nuanced exploration of the psychology and insight wisdoms underlying them. This book is an invaluable resource for anyone with children in their lives—indeed, for anyone at all. Highly recommended.”—Joseph Goldstein, author of Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening
“Susan Kaiser-Greenland captures the essence of mindfulness in a way that very few people can. As an experienced practitioner and teacher, her insight shines through on every page and Mindful Games will undoubtedly be a wonderful resource for every parent and child alike.”—Andy Puddicombe, founder of Headspace
“Children who are born and grow up in today’s world face unprecedented psychological challenges that are not of their own making, but were thrust upon them by earlier generations. This means that we adults have a moral responsibility to do all we can to help young people develop the cognitive and emotional skills that will enable them not only to survive but to flourish in the world they have inherited from us. Susan Kaiser Greenland’s Mindful Games, is a very welcome and important companion volume to her groundbreaking earlier book The Mindful Child. I recommend it highly for its bountiful wisdom and skillful means, based on many years of her pioneering work in this field.” – B. Alan Wallace, author of The Attention Revolution
“Susan Kaiser Greenland, the pioneer in bringing mindfulness to young children has done it again! Mindful Games is not only a fun way to teach and learn mindfulness but a truly wise way as well. Buy an extra copy because Mindful Games is destined to be one of the most beloved, well-worn references for parents, professionals, and kids alike. – Christopher Willard, PsyD, author of Growing Up Mindful
“Wise, practical, captivating, and fun, Mindful Games blends a life’s work of the devoted, humble, and brilliant Susan Kaiser Greenland into an at once useful and fascinating masterpiece. Illuminating ancient contemplative principles and applying them for serious and playful everyday use in practical exercises for youth and their families, this magnificent book offers us a powerful means for utilizing science-proven ways to strengthen a child or teen’s mind by supporting the development of their brains and interpersonal relationships. You may even find, as I have, that these insightful ideas and games will enhance your own life as well. Soak in these words of wisdom, and enjoy the journey!—Daniel J. Siegel, MD, author, Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human
“A wonderful, fun, and engaging way to bring mindfulness into a child’s life.”— Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
“Susan Kaiser Greenland has played a foundational role in making mindfulness practices developmentally appropriate for young people. In Mindful Games, she builds on her previous work by emphasizing play and creativity in teaching mindfulness skills. This is truly the way forward for making mindfulness a true exploration rather than just another chore or “to do” for our kids.”—Chris McKenna, Program Director, Mindful Schools
“The practical benefits of mindfulness are wide-ranging and undeniable. This wonderful book helps bring this transformative practice into the routines of those who will carry it into the future: our children.”—Congressman Tim Ryan
“In Mindful Games, Susan Kaiser Greenland offers a highly engaging and easy-to-understand set of activities to use with groups of children. All the games support understanding and empathy – and seem like fun! Susan draws on her own deep understanding of meditation and mindfulness practice, as well as her extensive knowledge of child development and research. Although written for adults working with groups of children, this book is certain to enrich the lives of any reader.” — Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Happiness
“In her marvelous new book, Susan Kaiser Greenland provides a whole new alphabet for raising better children as well as our best selves.”—Surya Das, author of Awakening the Buddha Within