Typically, most parents know when they need a break (now) and they know when their body is tired, and their brain is foggy (always). Children, on the other hand, often live busy, fast-paced lives right alongside us, but are not generally known for their ability to intentionally slow down or recognize when their bodies and minds need to do this. Practicing mindfulness strategies can be a highly beneficial way to build up their awareness to their needs, allow them to feel calm, provide relief from their worries, or improve their ability to focus. And like most things, there is an app for that. These apps are designed to help with mindfulness goals and cultivate these skills in easy-to-access intervals. In order to find the apps that best suit you and your child’s needs, check out the list below and try out one of these mindfulness-based apps for kids and families. Ideally, it will give the whole family a chance to practice pressing that pause button and perhaps experience that sought after yet elusive feeling of total calmness.
1. Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame Street
Ideal for ages 2-6.
This app is colorful, engaging, with sound effects and interactive features that will intrigue most young children.
The goal of the app is to help the monster through various scenarios. The narrator explains what the monster is feeling, and shows that once the monster is calm, he can think of different things he can do to feel better. The narrator offers easy to follow instructions that will guide your child to “helping” the monster calm down and make the right choice so he can continue his day.
The is a fun, game-based app that allows your child to practice deep breathing and problem-solving strategies at an early age!
2. Stop, Breathe, & Think app (icon looks like a smiling cloud)
Ideal for ages 9-16.
Each time you click on this app it will ask you how your body feels and how your mind feels today. Then, it asks to identify what specific emotions you have been experiencing. Based on the check in, it will recommend different types of meditations.
The free version of this app has access to over 30 different meditations on a variety of topics such as deep breathing exercises, approaching uncertainty, calming an overactive mind, falling asleep, gratitude, using the senses to become more mindful, and unpacking grief.
Premium version costs $10 per month and has access to even more meditations as well as a journaling feature.
The best part of this app is it allows your child to practice building awareness of their mind and body with the check in feature, and then provides a strategy he or she can try to improve or sustain mood.
3. Well Beyond Meditation (Icon is a clownfish)
Ideal for ages 6-12 years old.
This is a basic app, with 5 different meditations offered in its free version, and 14 in the premium version which costs $4.99.
This is a great app for kids and families who want to “dip their toes” into mindfulness and do not want a complex or expensive app. It is simple, easy to use, and offers meditations in 5 different categories: focus, sleep, kindness, feelings, and centering.
Ideal for all ages. In “calm kids” (found when you click “more” on the home page) there are various meditations for ages 5-17.
This is one of the most popular mindfulness and relaxation-based apps out there. This app does it all, and it costs $69.99 a year for it to do just that. The free version will allow you to sample a few meditations. You can also do a free trial before committing.
Calm has a section titled “calm kids” that will lead you to bedtime stories, lullabies, meditations, and soundscapes all geared toward children ages 5-17.
Calm is a very user-friendly app. It allows you to “favorite” the stories, meditations, and music that you want to keep going back to so you can easily pick up where you left off.
Calm also has mood check ins and meditation courses focused on different presenting issues (sleep, anxiety, personal growth, and focus).
Ideal for all ages. The main app page is best for kids or adults 12 years and up, but there is a section for kids under 12 that offers a lot as well.
This is another one of the most popular mindfulness-based apps. This one costs $12.99 per month or $69.99 per year. There is a free trial available as well.
Headspace offers an entire section on sleep: bedtime stories, “wind downs” to prepare mind/body for sleep, exercises to do when you can’t sleep, sleep playlists, and soundscapes.
Headspace has many different categories for teens and adults with meditations geared towards: work and productivity, students, personal growth, depression, and anxiety.
There is one section titled “kids and parenting” which divides meditations by age group: under 5, 6-8, and 9-12. These meditations focus on 5 main categories: calm, focus, kindness, sleep, and waking up.
This app is beautifully designed and very user-friendly. If you are looking for something the whole family can use, this is a great option.
6. Smiling Mind
Ideal for all ages. Meditations are separated by adult and youth programs.
This is a completely free Australian based app (which means meditations are narrated in Australian accents!)
This app has something for everyone. There are different mindfulness programs to choose from based on age group (3-6, 7-9, 10-12) or needs (such as sleep for kids, sleep for teens, short meditations, study/focus).
Each mindfulness program contains a certain amount of sessions focused on the subject chosen. The programs are designed like a class so you begin with “session 1” and slowly progress and build upon previous skills taught. There are also some video-based lessons as well which is unique to this app.
This app offers a large variety of tools for no cost with a special emphasis on how to apply these sessions to your everyday life.
7. Relax Melodies
Ideal for all ages. Best for ages 12 and up, but also has a kids section for younger children.
This app costs $60 per year. The free version offers access to a small sampling of its music, meditations, and bedtime stories.
What makes this app especially unique, is its “composing” category where you can create your own soothing sounds to fall asleep to by combining various noises such as a flute, ocean, and winds.
The meditation section features categories such as: sleep faster, deep sleep, stress, insomnia, and a kid’s section. The kid’s section focuses on short meditations that will help your child feel calm and ready to go to sleep.
The bedtime stories section has categories such as: fairytales, fantasy, science fiction, and journey-based stories.
This is the app for the family hoping to incorporate some peacefulness into the bedtime routine.