Teaching Teens the Gift of Noticing

Give your teens a tool for success! Here is a guide to teaching teens the gift of noticing.

Teaching Teens the Gift of Noticing

Teaching Teens the Gift of Noticing

Being an adolescent can be hard work. Sometimes teens are:

  • Stressed because they have a heavy-duty academic year or other high-powered goals
  • Others are feeling shut down because they do not feel like they are good at anything or have any interests
  • Some are distracted by SO many interesting things!

One of the sweetest gifts you can give any of these teens is the gift of noticing.

What on earth is “noticing”?

Noticing is simply a kind of mindfulness. It is taking a minute or two… or five to change gears, look around and just do ONE thing: notice what is there.

Here are a few ways teens can practice “noticing” mindfulness:

There are lots of ways to practice noticing. Here are just a few:

Look out the window and find five things

Have teens stop for a moment and look out the window. Then say to themselves exactly what they see or hear (identify and describe it). For instance:

  • I see a bird on the feeder. It is a cardinal enjoying the seeds there. He is throwing some seeds to the ground.
  • Now, I notice a cloud. It is a huge, white cumulous cloud.
  • I hear cicadas outside. There are just a few but they are loud.
  • Next, I noticed a truck driving past the house. It is a large, brown dump truck.
  • I see the boxwood bushes in the yard. They are dark green in the summer.

Take a “noticing walk”

Take your teens on a five minute or longer walk (or let them have a peaceful walk alone). However, they need to leave their headphones and hassles at home. On this walk, they should not do any problem-solving. Rather, they should keep bringing their mind back to noticing three things:

  • How their body is feeling?
  • What do they see, hear and smell?
  • Do they notice anything beautiful?

Your teens do not need to be super-meditators, they can help themselves by a daily dose of notice!

Make a nature journal

If you have teens who are more nature-minded teens or artsy teens, have them create a nature journal. Get them a sketch pad and colored pencils. Have them go outside and sketch something they see, for instance:

  • A flower
  • The clouds
  • A tree

(Hey, and log that time spent towards science lab or art credit!)

Make a nature journal as a 
noticing mindfulness activity

Have a “noticing laugh”

Model for your teens that laughing relieves stress and releases happy hormones. Find something to laugh about in normal life. (Not sarcasm or self-criticism, just fun.) Notice funny moments in the homeschool day or dig a silly video up from YouTube.

  • Stay in the moment
  • Notice the fun
  • Also, notice how laughing makes you feel


Teens who love gardening will tell you that they feel most calm and happy when they are outside working with their plants. When doing “noticing gardening”, teach teens:

  • Keep your mind on the garden
  • Notice the sensory things around you:
    • How the soil feels and smells
    • Progress of the plants
    • Sounds of birds and insects
  • Refrain from judgements or predictions (especially avoid “What-ifs”)

Also, gardening can make an excellent elective credit for the homeschool transcript. Here’s a cool post from our Cousin Sarah May about gardening as elective.

How does “noticing mindfulness” work?

Noticing mindfulness works in a number of ways. It:

Is calming

Noticing mindfulness helps the calm-down parts of our brain and body work better. So teens’ bodies actually feel a little less stressed. Practiced daily (or often), they will really come to notice the improvement over time.

Increases positive mood

It is a free way to feel more positive- and NO side effects! The more teens practice “noticing mindfulness”, the more they may notice that their general mood is improving. A pleasant mood is way better than a grumbly, distracted mood.

Can reduce rumination

When teens ruminate, they find themselves thinking over and over about something without solving it. This is often what they do when they are criticizing themselves. They just criticize but never come to a way of making it better. Noticing mindfulness often helps the brain move past the stuck neural circuits that cause rumination.

Works to improve working memory

Have you ever noticed that the more stressed you feel, the more you forget all that stuff you need to remember? Stress makes it hard to store and retrieve information. “Noticing mindfulness”, in contrast, helps teens’ brain to stay sharp (or even improve) the ability to store and retrieve all that academic or competitive important stuff.

Give it a try and teach your teens

Let’s face it. Most of us are not born meditators. We do not get out of bed in the morning excited to sit still and quiet. Unfortunately, that’s what many folks imagine when they think of mindfulness.

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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at 7SistersHomeschool.com, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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