An important part of teaching children mindfulness strategies is the understanding, identifying and accepting of emotions by the child. We all have emotions and they can range from blissfully happy to desperate despair to full blown anger. These and other emotions that come between can be just as mystifying and hard to control.
How many times have you told a child to, “Calm Down!”? You tell them to breathe. But, sometimes the emotions are far to scary. The fight or flight reflex is strong and being able to identify the emotions they feel can be very difficult. They need to and want to understand their emotions. It is once they can identify what they are feeling that they can independently identify the mindful strategy that will work for them in that moment.
This is where the Mind Jar comes in! You may have seen it called different names: calm jar, mind bottle,glitter bottle, sensory bottle, stress bottle,etc. It really is a simple idea and easy to make.
How to make a Mind Jar:
(There are many useful guides online to show you how to make this. I will share what I have done.)
1- Find a clean a small drinks bottle.
2- Fill the jar/bottle 3/4 full with warm water. (Not hot!)
3- Add a few drops of food colouring of your choice.
4- Add the glitter. I like using the finest glitter I can find and use a combination of glitter glue and loose glitter. The warm water helps to dilute the glue but the glue also thickens the water; allowing the glitter to stay suspended for a little longer.
5- Add water to fill the jar/bottle and close tightly. (Add a few drops of glue in the lid to keep the lid tight.)
6- Give it a good shake and watch the glitter swirl around the bottle and slowly settle.
Top Tip: at first, glitter will still want to float to the top. Over a few days keep giving the bottle good hard shakes. The glitter will settle to the bottom.
How to use a Mind Jar:
1- Shake the jar and then set it down. (This particularly useful when they are upset, angry or anxious. The shaking helps get frustrations out.)
2- As the watch the glitter swirling, do deep belly breathes; allowing yourself to calm and settle as the glitter calms and settles.
3- Repeat as needed.
You should explain to children that the swirling glitter is like what happens in our heads when we are upset, mad, angry, anxious, etc. The thoughts swirling about all are mixed, moving quickly in and out of our mind. Breathing allows us to calm those thoughts, focusing our mind only on the glitter as it slows and settles, like our thoughts; so we can identify the emotions we are having and make the right choices on what to do next.
Here is a lovely video on the same idea that you may want to share with children.
Mind in a jar- Planting Seeds- The Power of Mindfulness for Children