Mindfulness apps for children and teens
Parents and professionals are deeply concerned about the impacts of the pandemic on children and teenagers’ emotional wellbeing. Coming on top of an existing crisis in children’s mental health and already sky high levels of anxiety, emerging from lockdown has posed many challenges. Especially for children and teens who were already struggling.
So what can parents do? One of the best things we can do is to equip children with an understanding of mental health (see Talking to children about mental health) and some concrete strategies for managing their thoughts and emotions in order to reduce stress and anxiety. Guided meditation and mindfulness apps for children and teens are a brilliant resource for helping them train their brains, learn to relax and manage any anxious thoughts. Many mindfulness apps for children and teens are based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and there is extensive evidence that these strategies work.
Mindfulness apps can help with sleep issues, general worries and just for helping children to wind down at the end of the day, as well as for more entrenched mental or emotional health issues. There are lots of apps on the market – here’s my pick of the best guided meditation and mindfulness apps for children and teens and adults too.
Your Mindful Garden
Voiced by actor, writer and comedian Stephen Fry, Your Mindful Garden introduces a range of mindful activities to young children in a fun and simple way, helping them learn to relax and de-stress. Your Mindful Garden is part of the free Go Explore app from CBeebies – so, be aware, the mindfulness activities sit alongside educational games and videos. Or you can try it out on YouTube. It has a very safe child-friendly feel to it and kids can use the app offline. A good starting point for littlies!
Aimed at ages 6 to 8 years, the Chill Panda app is a combination of mindful activities, such as breathing and colouring, and an educational game in which children complete a series of tasks to learn different ways to reduce anxiety. Might be useful for helping children to calm down at the end of the day?
Feeling Good Teens
Feeling Good Teens is a free app containing a set of audio tracks for building positive mental strength. Teens just lie back and listen to learn about muscle relaxation and breathing strategies, managing stress, and building confidence.
Calm Zone is a section on the Childline website rather than an app but it has lots of useful breathing exercises, activities, games and videos to help children let go of stress. And it’s free to access.
Smiling Mind is a free mindfulness app from an Australian charity. It has been developed by psychologists on sound evidence-based principles and offers guided meditations and mindful moments that can be used by children, teens and adults. You can download it from your App store.
MindShift is a free Canadian CBT app for teenagers and young adults experiencing anxiety. It aims to give teens strategies for facing their fears and worries by helping them develop more helpful ways of thinking. It includes tools for relaxation and for steps to help teens take charge of their anxiety and regain control over their lives. There are specific ideas for exam anxiety, social anxiety and performance anxiety as well as coping with everyday worries.
Calm is a general guided meditation app for adults focusing on stress, anxiety and sleep issues. If your child’s issues are undermining your own mental health, Calm will help you stay in the right frame of mind to support your child. There is a monthly subscription (this definitely isn’t a cheap option) but the add-on benefit of a premium subscription is that you also get Calm Kids meditations. There are guided meditations for kids/teens aged 3 to 17 years, featuring well-known characters from Disney and Thomas The Tank Engine. So good for the whole family!
Serenity is similar to Calm but at half the price. There are fewer frills and fewer meditations for children but it’s a good budget option, especially if you are testing the water to see if meditation is for you. Good for general stress relief and sleep issues. Also check out Headspace which has a Mindful Families section and also a section for parents on Becoming a Mindful Parent (there’s a free trial period so you can try before you buy).
Want something you can do together with your child? Check out our free video on self-soothe strategies for children for anxious or overwhelmed children. And if I have missed out any good mindfulness apps for children that you really want to share with other parents, please do let me know!
If you are worried about your child’s mental health or anxiety, we provide specialised parenting support for parents of anxious children. Or you can find other sources of support in these posts: