Awakening Joy

For Kids - Tips to Awaken Joy

In 10 Steps from Awakening Joy for Kids


On this page:

A) Awakening Joy for Kids - Book and co-author, Michele Lilyanna

B) Tips to Awaken Joy in Kids in 10 Steps


A) Book from Michele Lilyanna and James Baraz




Awakening Joy for Kids

Winner of the Nautalis Gold Book Award for BEST PARENTING

Co-authored by James Baraz and Michele Lilyanna



Michele Lilyanna is a zealous creator of living lessons for children, parents and teachers, translating leading edge research, practices in mindfulness, neuroscience and compassionate communication into parenting and classroom activities.

With over 2000 hours of intensive study, she has spent the past decade deepening her practices in Nonviolent Communication with Robert Gonzales. It is her intention to teach children these practices so that they can become more resilient, self-regulating, self-aware and joyful.


B) Tips to Awaken Joy in Kids in 10 Steps

Tip #1 - Intention


How can you set intention in a sweet, effective way at home? With your child, go pour a cup of tea, put your feet up, and relax together. No time for that? Set intention on the way to school or daycare. You can even use cute little cards like the ones in the picture and have kids pick a card. 


From the book:

One day when I was at school, I told the children that I had a headache, and I was yearning for well-being. I told the children that instead of looking for the moments when my head hurt, I would set the intention to note when I was feeling good. At several points throughout the day, I rang a chime, and everyone checked in with their own intention. I was amazed to find that by focusing on feeling good I actually felt much better. The children enjoyed sharing their intentions, too.


How to Set Intention

  1. Sit with your child and put your hand on your own heart. Encourage your child to do the same with their own heart.

  2. Can you feel the beat of your heart?

  3. Ask each other “What are you feeling?”

  4. Ask, “What is your heart’s deepest desire in this moment?”

  5. Ask, “If you could bring some activities to fill this desire, what would they be?”

  6. As shown above, you may wish to have some cards on which you have drawn pictures, so younger children can simply pick a card. These picture symbols might include images of love, fun, safety, quiet, success, and connection.


Tip #2 - Mindfulness

Mindful Cooking and Eating

From the book:

Children love to gather food, cook, and eat. Even in the classroom, I will send children out to our school garden, and they will gather greens and vegetables. Very young children can be taught to wash, cut, and chop produce. The whole class can become involved in a communal meal. One day, we each took a little bit of food from our lunches as well as greens from the garden and cooked it on a burner in the back of the classroom. A wonderful scent filled the air, and all but one of the children ate the mysterious meal that was concocted. One little girl didn’t have a bowl, so she brought her tooth retainer case to be filled with food. Smiles, stories, and slurping could be heard all around the classroom.


Tip #3 - Gratitude


Gratitude Grows

This story from the book is from a student I had in my classroom over twenty years ago.

“I was a student of Michele’s over twenty years ago. I am now a parent of two children myself and still use strategies and deep practices of mindfulness that I learned from her so many years ago. My husband and I have been to her parenting classes and highly recommend any lessons she writes. We now have a gratitude circle at our dining room table every night so that our children can also learn to practice gratitude.   We also pass a gratitude stone around the table to anchor the practices.  Our family is much happier for these rituals.”


How to Introduce a Family Gratitude Stone

Children go to the beach or the park and collect a special stone. They can bring it home and put in in a special spot. It becomes the family gratitude rock. It can be passed around the table at dinner time or shared in the evening while snuggled up with the family. One member of the family passes it to another and looks in their eyes, thanking them for something. The receiver simply says you’re welcome.

Simple ways to practice gratitude might be:

  • Thank you for making my bed.

  • Thank you for playing cards with me.

  • Thank you for picking up the toys in the living room.

  • Thank you for taking the kids out so I could have a moment to self-connect.

The receiver then becomes the giver and must pass the stone within the day.

You may choose one special day of the week to do this or spread out the gratitude over the week.

This may seem like a simple activity and it is, but it has extraordinary value. Family connections, appreciation, gratitude, being seen and valued are exquisite outcomes.

Enjoy and you rock!!!!





Tip #6 - The Joy of Letting Go


Wise letting go leads to joy when we realize we don’t have to hold on to our “extra baggage.” We are putting down an unnecessary burden—the attachment that comes from grasping onto what we think will make us happy.

Letting Go as Simplifying

The essence of letting go is bringing greater simplicity into our lives. When we simplify and get rid of clutter, we uncomplicate our minds. Spend some time with your child sorting through childhood toys and memorabilia.  You can take photos of artwork and special things and then create special memory boxes.  You both might gently thank and let go of things that are no longer needed. 

In my own home, we would have sacred fires to let go of papers, artwork and burnable bits while we chatted and shared memories.  My boys would watch the memory sparks fly into the night under star-filled skies.  Later, when only the ashes remained, we would rake and bury them in the garden, thus nourishing our plants.

At school, give students time to really clean, sort, and organize their desks. Provide essential oils as a special treat and let them scent the desks.  Recycle, reuse and share materials instead of buying more. 

Mandala Art Project from Old Records



Some old records came into my hands, and I wondered what to do with them.  Throwing them away seemed disrespectful and a waste somehow.  I went to the thrift store and collected enough records to give one to each child.  Using acrylic paints, rulers and thin paintbrushes, the children created mandala designs on the records. 

Before beginning, I showed them ancient mandalas from all over the world, and we spoke of the symbolic use of color.  The children spent many happy hours creating, and kids from other classes, poking their heads in the doors, begged to create “an original” piece of art too.  Simple, easy, free, and deeply centering.






Tip #7 - Loving Ourselves


Michele offers this VIDEO as a Example for Loving Ourselves for Kids.


More "Tips to Awaken Joy in Kids" to come !!

Michele's Website offers loads of tips and practices on how to bring more mindfulness and social / emotional well-being to your loved ones and family. Instagram has many pictures of mindful art activities for children. Here is Michele's Facebook page.