Teaching children about mindfulness and meditation can sometimes be tricky if they aren’t grasping how to calm down and quiet their mind. There are some wonderful tools for children to use that help guide them when practicing mindfulness. One of the most adorable and effective meditation toys out there is BE Buddy. It’s part bean bag, part sensory toy, part stuffed animal, and part meditation eye cover. Your kids will be sure to love using their BE Buddy wherever they practice mindfulness, whether it be at home or in school.
The BE Buddy was created by Stephanie Esser, a former elementary school teacher, Yoga Calm® youth instructor, and Owner/Founder of Balancing Elephants. She focuses on helping kids learn ways to manage emotions and build healthy self-care habits at a young age using the tools of yoga, breathing, mindfulness, and relaxation. Her goal is to inspire and empower children with tools to build focus, strength, and compassion towards self and others.
The BE Buddy serves as a therapeutic eye pillow/comfort pal for children. It is the perfect accessory for any mindfulness/meditation practice (even adults will enjoy using one!), as it helps with breathing, focus, and balance.
The BE Buddy is so unique and versatile since it offers a multi-sensory experience for our kids.
Sight. Each BE Buddy is a different type of animal sporting its own vivid color. There are six different characters to choose from: Bernie the bear (green), Felix the cat (orange), Hamm the pig (pink), Hootie the owl (orange stripes), Barkley the dog (blue), and Bandit the squirrel (purple). They are pleasing to the eye with cute, cheerful faces that kids will surely be attracted to. Each BE Buddy also has feather-like hair on the top to provide visual feedback to assist in breath awareness.
Smell. Each one is filled with dried lavender to calm and relax the body. There is no scent more relaxing than lavender, as it has been shown to have sedating effects that help our body and mind relax. Its antioxidant components can lower the level of stress hormones in our body and soothe our nerves to relieve anxiety and depression.
Touch. It is pretty incredible how many different types of touch these little toys provide. The front fabric is slightly rough, while the backside is a smooth felt fabric that offers comfort while being used as an eye pillow. The feather on the top provides a delicate, airy texture for children to play with. There are also two loops on the side made of shiny rope that kids can play with or use to hold their mindfulness buddy.
Sound. Depending on how you rub the BE Buddy, you can also hear different sounds. Also, if you shake it, the flax seeds inside rattle around.
It is also impressive how many different ways we can use a BE Buddy both on and off the yoga mat. Whether it be snuggling with at bedtime or during Shavasana, using as an eye cover to block out light during meditation, placing on the head for balance while walking or during tree pose, or using as a tool during breath work, kids will enjoy their mindfulness experience so much more with a BE Buddy. It will help them develop a daily practice to stay balanced.
“My overall message to parents/caregivers/therapists is to keep it fun, simple and consistent,” Stephanie explains. “The reason for this is because the goal is to create healthy habits at a young age to self-regulate and build resilience. Although there are a lot of fun ways to use the BE Buddy, I try to keep the focus simple at first so that parents who are new to these practices don’t become overwhelmed.”
It’s pretty rare that you find a toy offering so many benefits, yet is so simple at the same time. Here are a few of the key features of the BE Buddy that really stand out:
- It is made with canvas that is 45 percent recycled content.
- The loops make it easy to hold and hang up when not being used.
- It is weighted with flax seeds to help kids feel calm and grounded when they place it on their stomach.
- It conforms to the body without falling off.
- It doesn’t plug in!
When our BE Buddy arrived, my daughter was so excited to try it out. I loved how it came with its own name to make it more personable for my daughter—kind of like having a pet. A card outlining a few ideas for how to use the BE Buddy was included, which I found to be super helpful.
We were excited to get started. First I asked her to hold Bernie the bear by the rope loops about a foot from her face. She closed her eyes and took in a long, slow breath. Then she opened her eyes while she slowly exhaled and watched the green feathers on top of his head blow in the wind. It was very soothing. Then she got down on the floor in a resting position on her back. She placed the BE Buddy on her belly and took in some deep breaths. She described this exercise as like having a boat on her belly that was riding the waves up and down with each of her breaths. Finally, she put it on her head and got into tree pose. She said it was super calming and helped her focus.
I asked her what she thought of her new mindfulness buddy. She said that she has never seen anything like it before and loved how there were so many ways to use it. She loved the smell, all the different textures that helped her feel relaxed, and how it’s a soft bag that she can press. “It makes me happy, mommy! It’s also a fun toy and I can use it as a stuffed animal.” And then she was off to take her new BE Buddy upstairs to her room to use it as a pillow for her favorite doll.