Meditation for Kids: A Parents' Guide
A few years ago, a school in the US decided to replace the mundane and often ineffective sit-in-your-seat-and-suffer routine of detention with meditation. Instead of forcing children to stare out the window while thinking about their actions and hoping this will somehow, miraculously lead to an epiphany, the school's Mindful Moment Room encouraged children to centre themselves through focused breathing and meditation. Unsurprisingly, the results were incredible.
Meditation for kids is not a new concept but is certainly gaining a lot of attention given that many parents are increasingly concerned about the attention levels (or lack thereof) of kids in today's fast-paced digital world. If tantrums are becoming all too frequent in your home, or your little one can't amicably part ways with a zip-up jacket that just won't zip up, they might benefit from meditation for kids.
The Benefits of Meditation for Kids
Even in its simplest form, meditation has the potential to regulate the body's reaction to stress and promote better health. According to Lorraine Murray, author and founder of Connected Kids, "... our lives allow nearly zero downtime. There's no relaxation, boredom, or stillness that allows the body to relax and the nervous system to calm down. In other words, our tech- and info-driven busyness doesn't let our brains recharge in their 'alpha state' - the relaxed-but-alert frequency in the brain we often sense just before we fall asleep."
This state of always being on and alert can lead to increased irritability and decreased attention in kids. This is where meditation can help. The purpose of teaching your kids to meditate is not to transform them into a zen deity but to try and find their inner calm and use it to tame those tantrums and reduce stress. If performed correctly and regularly, meditation for kids can offer numerous benefits including:
- Managing stress
- Enhanced focus
- Reduced hyperactivity
- Boosting self-confidence
- Fostering empathy
- Reducing anxiety.
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A Beginner's Guide to Meditation for Kids
Meditation for Toddlers
When you think of meditation, you probably envision a sublimely calm room with no noise and no movement. Well, this is not the case when it comes to meditation for kids. Contrary to popular belief, a successful meditation session doesn't necessarily include no talking. Family meditation sessions can include talking, particularly if you have toddlers. Murray suggests sitting down with your toddler in a calming space and talking through the positive and negative elements of their day. Encourage your toddler to touch parts of their body that correspond to negative thoughts and occurrences and vice versa with their positive emotions. "You're training the brain to recognise signals of stress and respond with practices that bring the body back into balance", says Murray.
Meditation for Preschoolers
Similar to toddlers, preschoolers aged up to four years can benefit from regular moments of calm, whether this includes talking or simply listening to a calming story while focusing on their breathing. By age four, preschoolers can usually stay still and listen to a story, so a good time to practise daily meditation for kids could be at bedtime when they're already in a relatively relaxed state. Let them lay back and listen to an anecdote, meditative podcast or even their favourite bedtime story, while you continue to encourage them to focus on how each part of their body feels while blocking out external interferences.
Meditation for Older Kids
Older kids might be able to meditate on their own but if you're keen to practise your mindfulness together, you can pick and choose daily music, sounds, podcasts or even conversations that will help you meditate together. The important thing to remember is to try and encourage your kids to connect with their body and how it responds to calming or stressful elements in order to help manage these in the present and in future instances.
There are loads of resources out there to help parents guide their children through meditation. Whether you plug into a meditation podcast together or give them some free time to explore meditation videos on Youtube, technology can actually help children relax and achieve mindfulness. Here are some of our favourite meditation apps (some are free!):
- New Horizon Meditation & Sleep Stories
- Connected Kids
- Mindful Powers
- Shambala Kids
- MyLife Meditation
Other Ways to Get Your Zen On
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