Mindfulness and Self Talk

Mindfulness and Self Talk

This month’s theme is focused on empathy and compassion. The following are various resources from family activities, individual activities and book recommendations you can participate in with your child.

Family Activities

Family Activity: Listening to Learn 

Read Together 

Being good listeners helps us be better learners. Let’s practice a routine for listening.

Listening Rules: Eyes watching (point to corners of your eyes); ears listening (cup your ears with your hands); voice quiet (put your finger to your lips); body still (give yourself a hug with both arms).

Practice Together: Listening Rules 

Before giving directions for daily activities, such as getting dressed, setting the table, or getting ready for bed, remind your child to use the listening rules.


You need to use your Listening Rules now. Do the actions for each rule along with your child, then give the directions: Please put a napkin at each person’s place on the dinner table. Why Is It Important? 

Following listening rules can help us pay attention at school and at home.

Family Activity: Using Self-Talk 

Read Together 

Using skills for learning makes helps you be a better learner. You’ve been learning to focus your attention, listen, and use self-talk. Focusing your attention and listening show respect. Self-talk is talking to yourself in a quiet voice in your head. Using self-talk can help you stay focused and on task and manage distractions.

Practice Together: Distraction Detectives 

  1. Go to the space where your child usually does his or her school work and pretend that you are both students working on school work.
  2. Become distraction detectives! Walk around the space and identify things that could distract you (such as television, toys, other people…)
  3. For each distraction, decide on self-talk you could use to stay focused and on task.
  4. Say your self-talk out loud and write it down in a place you can see if when you are working in this space.


You need to use your Listening Rules now. Do the actions for each rule along with your child, then give the directions: Please put a napkin at each person’s place on the dinner table.

Why Is It Important? 

Self-talk is a skill for learning and helps children be better learners. Self-talk helps children stay focused and on task.

Family Activity: Being Assertive

Read Together

Today you and a family member are screenplay writers and actors. The scene is about a student who needs to ask a teacher assertively for help understanding an assignment. Remember, being assertive helps you communicate what you need or want in a way that is respectful toward others.

Practice Together

Together, write the lines the student and teacher will say to each other. Then decide who will be the student and who will be the teacher and act it out. Use the list of Assertiveness Skills to help you.  (Look at the person you are talking to (if you are on a video call or in person); sit/stand tall; Use a calm, firm voice; use respectful words.


A student needs help understanding a writing assignment.

Student: “Mrs. Park, can you please help me better understand what we need to do on this writing assignment?”

Teacher: “What part of the assignment do you not understand?”

Student: “I do not understand how long you want it to be and where I am supposed to turn it in.”

Why is it important?

When we are assertive, we can respectfully communicate what we want or need.

Family Activity: Listening with Attention

Read Together

Do you ever feel like adults don’t listen to you? Or maybe adults feel like you don’t listen to them? It could be that you are both listening – you’re just not listening with attention. Today you are going to explain to an adult in your home the skills used to listen with attention. Then you will both practice. These skills can help you communicate better and get along with others.

Practice Together

Practice listening with attention. Tell your adult three things you would like to do tomorrow. Pay attention to the listening-with-attention skills he or she uses:

  1. Focus on the person’s words;
  2. Don’t interrupt;
  3. Ask questions to find out more;
  4. Repeat what you heard to show you understand.

Now your adult will tell you three things he or she would like to do tomorrow and see which of the listening-with-attention skills you are using.

Why is it important?

Listening with attention helps us better understand others and feel understood. It also shows respect to those we are communicating with.

Mindfulness Activities for Children 5-10

Practicing mindfulness techniques can help children change their mindset from a FIXED mindset to a GROWTH mindset.

First, mindfulness can help children feel empowered, so they can learn to try new things and take more risks.

Second, using mindfulness techniques like deep breathing and tensing and relaxing the muscles can help children overcome anxiety when they make mistakes.

Third, by promoting self-love and self-compassion, mindfulness activities can help children overcome negative self-talk.  

Mindfulness Activity #1: “Just One Breath” Breathing Activity

  • Find a relaxing place, sit comfortably, and set a timer for one minute
  • Breathe deeply in and out while paying attention to any sensations you notice or sounds you hear.
  • Take another slow deep breath, imagine the air moving down into the lungs and back up.
  • Take one more deep breath and hold for a moment, then release it.
  • Then notice how you feel after taking this one-minute break.

Mindfulness Activity #2:  Going on a Safari

  • Go outside on an exciting adventure, try picking up a small rock or touching a plant or flower.
  • Notice the bugs or birds or rain drops. Taka a moment to reach down and touch the earth.
  • Walk mindfully paying close attention to the things around you. Make sure you walk in silence because you want to notice all the small details.
  • Walking is a wonderful stress-relieving activity because it helps clear the mind and sparks creative ideas.

Mindfulness Activity #3: Heartbeat Exercise

  • Ask your child to stand up and either jump up and down or do jumping jacks for one minute.
  • At the end of that minute, have them place their hand on their heart and pay attention to how their heartbeat and their breathing feels.
  • Tuning into the physical body is a wonderful way to redirect focus.

Mindfulness Activity #4: Tense and Release Muscle Relaxation

  • Starting at the feet, gently squeeze the muscles in the feet by tightening them, then slowly releasing.
  • Next, squeeze the large muscles in the calves for 5 seconds, then gently release. Working your way up the body, squeeze the thigh muscles for 5 seconds then gently release.
  • - Continue moving up the body for more relaxation.

This activity groups us into the physical body. The tensing and releasing of muscles helps release strain and stress.

Mindfulness Activities for Adolescents

How Mindfulness Empowers Us Video

Mindfulness (present-moment, nonjudgmental awareness) is a powerful tool that teens can use to manage their stress. Research indicates that when teens consistently practice mindfulness, it lowers rates of anxiety and depression, and leads to better sleep, stronger relationships, and increased self-awareness, all of which can go a long way toward alleviating the impact of stress.

Exercise: Mindful Music

Ben Sedley, author of Stuff That Sucks, encourages teens to practice mindfulness by listening to music and “get[ting] inside the song.” Instead of focusing on the lyrics (which may not be very appropriate for stress reduction), pay attention to the music itself: what instruments do you hear? is the song loud or soft? fast or slow?

How do you feel when you listen, both mentally and physically: what emotions does the song create in you? where in your body do you feel them? can you feel the beat of the music in your body?

Mindfully listening to music is a great stress reliever, AND a great way to practice being completely in the present moment.

Exercise: Notice the Good

When we’re stressed, it puts the brain in a fearful state, and therefore we start to pay more attention to threats, which only makes the stress worse! Try to notice the things that are good, or even just okay, right now. As you go through your day, notice ten things that are beautiful, helpful, kind, or pleasant.

Exercise: Tech Detox

Devices contribute to our stress in numerous ways: they distract us from our direct experience, the emails and notifications aggravate our worries, and social media contributes to “fear of missing out” and lots of unhelpful comparisons. Pay attention to how spending time on devices makes you feel. Take frequent breaks (minimum 20 minutes at a time) when there’s NO technology — no phone, no TV, no computer, no tablet. Disconnecting from technology reconnects you to your experience!

Book Recommendations

When Sophie Thinks She Can’t |Molly Bang

When Sophie feels like she can’t do puzzles or math, she learns the most important word: “Yet.” She learns that when she tries and grows, she gets smarter every day. She just hadn’t figured out puzzles…yet.

What Should Danny Do? | Ganit and Adir Levy

Danny is training to be a superhero, and he faces a lot of choices. Make them with him: There are nine possible stories in this slim book. Each one shows how decisions can shape a life.

My Mouth Is a Volcano! | Julia Cook

Louis has a lot of important things to say, and the words just erupt out of his mouth. Then, one day in school, he realizes that other people have volcanoes for mouths, too.

It’s Okay to Make Mistakes | Todd Parr

This little book is like a reassuring pep talk. Did you color outside the lines? Then you were creative! Were you clumsy, or did you invent a new move? This cheerful book will have you looking on the bright side of everything.

Drum Dream Girl | Margarita Engle

A Chinese-African-Cuban girl secretly plays the congas, bongos, and timbales. But on her island, only boys are allowed to play drums. What happens when she lets her secret out is poetic, magical—and inspired by a true story.

Be Kind | Pat Zietlow Miller

“Be kind” is nice advice, but how do you do it? A child navigates her school day trying, and sometimes failing, to be as kind as possible.