The world can be fast-paced, busy, and intense. Sometimes it can be too much for an adult to handle, much less a child. An increasing number of children have been showing early signs of stress, anxiety, and restlessness at a far earlier age than they should be. Luckily, there are ways to decrease these signs, or even stop them altogether by encouraging and practicing meditation for kids. Here we will discuss exactly what meditation for kids is, the benefits of meditation for kids, and different techniques you can use so you can choose the practices that work best for you and your family.
What Is Meditation For Kids?
Meditation is a way for kids to unwind. Children and their brains get tired and they really need the opportunity to take time out of their day and relax and focus. Some kids may need to do this once a day, while others may find it useful to do several times throughout the day. Meditation can give children a sense of control over their thoughts and bodies in a world where they have little control over most things. Regardless of when or where they do it, meditation for kids can make a huge difference in coping in this busy, stress-filled life.
Five Important Themes For Kids To Explore
Start slowly by teaching your child the fundamentals of meditation with fun and simple breathing exercises.
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Kids can use their imagination to practice a precise and relaxed kind of focus.
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Exercises using visualization techniques can teach kids about openness, kindness, and generosity.
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Relaxing mindfulness activities can help your child get a healthy and restful night's sleep.
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Quick yet meaningful meditations can help your whole family start the day off in a positive state of mind.
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What Are The Benefits Of Meditation For Kids?
Which Meditation Techniques Are Good For Kids?
There are a variety of meditation techniques that have been proven to be successful. The best thing to do is to test them out and see which ones work for your family.
Make practicing silence a routine. It helps kids and adults alike to slow life down and practice being calm. While we can't expect little ones to stay quiet for generous amounts of time, you can start off slow and increase the time gradually. If you have multiple children and are finding adding silence into your day difficult, make it into a game where you explore who can stay silent the longest. If someone breaks a rule, create a “punishment” with kindness, love, and good intent. For example, someone who breaks the quiet streak may need to whisper a short song, or whisper a compliment to someone else playing the game.
Song And Sensory
There are a lot of great songs for listening, singing, whispering and thinking quiet thoughts. They can also prompt chanting affirmations, for example saying something positive like “I am strong.” This can be included with movement by touching each finger to the thumb in rotations. It's a superb way to encourage your child to self-soothe and it can discretely be performed just about anywhere.
Start Off Simple And Short
Meditation for kids is not necessarily easy. Many people recommend 1 minute per year of age, starting at age 3. This might be a little difficult until a few years down the line, but it's certainly worth a good try. Some of it will depend on the nature of the child. If you have a child with ADD or ADHD it may be very difficult until it becomes more of a habit, whereas if you have a laid back child it might come a little easier. Time of day may make a difference, too. If you have an early bird, morning meditation might go over well as the first step of the day; however, if you have a night owl you may find meditation before bed might work better. You'll need to be persistent with trial and error to find what works best for each and every individual child.
Practice Breathing Exercises
Breathing oxygenates each and every cell in our bodies. It can help calm our bodies down when we feel excited, angry, sad, frustrated and many more emotions. Teaching your child breathing exercises can prevent full-blown meltdowns in many situations.
This is known as the victorious breath. While taking deep breaths you explore the sound that the back of your throat makes when it is very relaxed. Some people refer to this as the “deep ocean sound” at the back of the throat.
This is known as the alternate nostril breath which is known to help the left and right hemispheres of the brain balance, leading to improved cognitive development. To practice this type of breath, try holding one nostril and breathing through the other. After that, you can repeat on the other side.
This is known as the shining breath. This is fun and engaging as you focus on watching your belly rise as you inhale and watching your belly deflate as you exhale.
Yoga is another activity that has countless benefits. The best part about yoga is that it's a fantastic family activity! Sun salutations are a series of movements that flow with the breath. They can be simple and gradually get more difficult as your family adapts and becomes comfortable. There are 12 poses in particular that are known to keep energy channels flowing and help prevent countless diseases.
Yoga can also be done in a fun manner. There are many poses that are named after animals, which make them kid-friendly. Find a book filled with animals and let kids make up poses that copy those animals, then display a pose that represents how they think those animals look. These aren't technical yoga poses, but they're a great creative activity for kids.
Kids can also practice making the noises of the animals while in each pose. If your child isn't quite ready to lie on a mat and stay still and quiet until the end the yoga session, there's a wonderful alternative. Try rolling your child in the mat. This might sound unorthodox, but it provides the same sort of comfort as a weighted blanket. This should never cover their face, and they should ultimately end up laying on their backs, but it will provide them with a comforting pressure that can really help settle them down into calmness.
Visualization is perfect right before bed or rolled up in a yoga mat. It's an ancient practice referred to as Yoga Nidra that focuses your attention on different parts of the body by lying still. While the adult version is simply that, you can change it up for kids to make it more entertaining. For example, instead of focusing your attention on the toes, you could change it to imagining fairy dust being sprinkled on the toes. You can add any of your own touches or variations. You can try using more details like different textures or colors and mix things up whenever you want. Most importantly, have fun with it!
Mantras With Singing And Chanting
Kids love to make noise! This, of course, includes singing and chanting! Chanting is actually amazing at improving concentration and focus and has some seriously powerful effects on brain development.
This mantra is composed of 24 syllables. Each of those syllables has a connection to a different part of the brain. It has been said to improve intuition and intelligence. It is also said to be a beautiful song, and it makes for a great memory exercise.
OM is known as the sound of the universe and divine intelligence. Anyone can relate to that, especially children. Kids can explore with the volume and tone and make it into whatever they feel is fitting to that time and place. Some days it could sound like a harmonious choir while other times it could sound like jungle animals. Provide them with a judge-free, safe space to experiment with their OMs. You can also join in to make them feel more natural, comfortable or at ease.
It can be a great idea to find a space to hang a painting or chart of the chakras, also known as the body's seven major energy centers. Show your children each chakra and have them picture that color in that location of their body. Furthermore, they can chant a mantra associated with each chakra if they want.
Massage has so many great benefits. Massage relieves stress, reduces anxiety, reduces muscle tension, improves cardiovascular health, and increases range of motion. It can help promote a better night's sleep and it can help children learn their body parts and become aware of them. It can also be a way of creating bonds between family members. Young ones may feel connected to a parent as they massage their hands or feet in a loving, relaxing manner.
Enhancing Meditation For Kids
While there are a lot of simple ways to meditate that require no particular space or equipment, you can use creative techniques to enhance your time.
Prepare A Meditation Space
Having an area dedicated to meditation for kids can be a great reminder to include meditation into your day. It doesn't have to be large, extravagant, expensive or even permanent! You can use any space and have your children pick out things that represent the four elements. For example, a hike outside can be a great place to find something like a stone to represent earth. You can find a special shaped cup or bowl to hold water for the water element. Something like a feather can be used to represent air, and different colors can be chosen for different sessions based on mood. Finally, a special candle can be chosen and lit for the fire element; however, it should be made clear to the children that this should only be used under adult supervision. Kids tend to really get into being able to choose and decorate their own space and combined with the elements, it can make for a safe, sacred place.
Sometimes it can be difficult to sit and focus. Just like adults, kids have things going on in their minds that are hard to let go of. Give them something to focus on that will help keep their focus and bring it back when their mind starts to wonder. A candle works great for this because it has movement, and various colors are present. You can also see the changing of the wick and melting down of the wax. A candle is interesting enough to hold focus while at the same time helpful in clearing the mind.
Since meditation is about being aware of the body, include games to add some fun. We know that little ones are not expected to sit and meditate for hours, so let them move while paying attention to their bodies. This can be done by slowly and mindfully walking across a room with a book on their head or similarly carrying a ball on a spoon.
The benefits of meditation for kids are abundantly clear. Try any of these exercises and then monitor your child's behavior to see if you can find any improvement, even if it's just a small amount. You can also try asking them how they feel before and after any exercise to understand if they notice their own bodies and behaviors changing. If you're not seeing any progress right away, keep trying. Meditation will provide them with skills they will need and utilize for the rest of their lives. There's nothing left to do now but try it! Namaste.
Author: Esateys Stuchiner
Esateys (pronounced Ee sáh teez) is an International Life Transformational Speaker, Author, Master Facilitator, Life Coach and Expert in the Human condition. She is a Nationally and Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. For over 30 years, she has practiced, taught and lectured extensively in the allopathic and alternative medicine field.
Esateys is known for her groundbreaking work in the areas of personal empowerment and health restoration using mindset and inner connection as the catalyst for all change.
Esateys describes herself as the ‘Architect of the New You’ and has dedicated her life and professional career to helping her clients create “New Beginnings” by facilitating self empowerment, economic freedom and restored health.
For more information, go to esateys.com.