When grieving, and in times of stress and difficulty, it is easy to get caught up in unpleasant emotions like sadness, anger, frustration, distress. When this happens, it can be hard to get oneself out of those unpleasant emotions and back into a space that feels more peaceful and enjoyable. When this happens, using a mindfulness activity can help a person focus on the present, experiences they enjoy, and help them come to a more enjoyable space. Today’s activity uses a superhero theme to help kids think about what strengths and abilities they have within them as well as those they aspire to embody.
The activity starts with a discussion on superheroes to help kids think about qualities they aspire to as well as some positive affirmations they can use to help themselves when they as feeling down. Start the discussion with the following questions:
- What is a hero?
- What does a hero look like?
- Who is or has been a hero in your life?
- What about your hero made them a hero?
- What about you makes you a hero? (This will be the mantra during the mindfulness activity)
After discussing the questions explain that you are going to learn a coping skill that can help to calm down when feeling distressed. In the activity kids are going to picture themselves as a superhero. They are going to hear a series of questions to help them picture what they look like as a superhero and what qualities they possess. Go through the following questions slowly, giving kids time to think about each:
- What do your hero shoes look like? What color are they? Are they a boot, sneaker, or sandal?
- What are you wearing on your legs? Pants, tights, leggings? What color are they?
- Do you have a skirt or dress on? What color and shape is it?
- What kind of shirt are you wearing? Does it have a symbol or words on it?
- Do you have a cape? Do you have a mask?
- Are you wearing a helmet or hat? What color and shape is it?
- What about your mind and your heart makes you a hero? (Insert mantra from above)
Once you are done asking the questions and the child has an idea of what they want themselves to look like as a superhero have them draw themselves as a superhero, making sure they write out their mantra somewhere on the page. Encourage the child to practice visualizing themselves as a superhero and repeat their mantra to themselves when they are calm so they will be familiar with it and be able to use it when they are distressed. When distressed, help children walk through the mindfulness activity again and repeat the mantra to themselves a few times to help feel a sense of calm.
Author: Peyton Petty, Program Coordinator
Activity adapted from National Alliance for Grieving Children (NAGC) Hero Toolkit