If you’re like many other parents, perhaps you’ve seen headlines on the benefits of meditation for children and thought, “Can my kid meditate, too?”
Adults experienced in meditation know that achieving peace can be tough work. Tough work that, incidentally, can require you to sit still and be quiet. Not what many kids are known for.
Still, there are many reasons to give it a shot - the potential for higher grades, fewer tantrums, and better concentration among them. Here are five tips to help you get your little ones centered.
- Lead by example.
How often are you meditating? Before you encourage a child to try it, familiarize them with the basics by giving them a glimpse of your own practice. Tell them when you’re taking a break to meditate. Explain that it’s a quiet time where you sit still. Let them ask questions, watch, and imitate your posture.
- Start with the breath.
Most likely, children won’t be interested in the history, dogmas, or advanced techniques associated with some meditation practices. Instead, we keep them trained on their breath. Show them what slow, complete breathing really looks and feels like. Have them keep one hand on their tummy, and one on their heart, so they can learn to really track their inhales and exhales.
Basic breath work can even become part of a bedtime routine. Once they’re all tucked in, focus on your breathing together for a minute or two. It’ll be easier for them to relax and drift off.
- Teach patience by being patient.
Inevitably, kids will struggle with the stillness aspect of meditating. Avoid giving them the impression that meditation is a hard, unyielding practice based on rules. Your meditation sessions shouldn’t be a “time out” where they have to reach a finish line. One minute at a time may be all they can manage for a while.
Guide them through restless moments by showing them additional techniques. This can include tensing and relaxing their muscles, playing a singing bowl, or refocusing their gaze.
Our kids aren’t growing up in the same world many of us did. Technology has changed the quantity and quality of shared experiences that influence how we grow up. Make sure meditation isn’t an assignment, but something you can do together. When a whole family meditates, everyone benefits. Adults feel more confident in handling all that comes with parenthood, and kids can experience less anxiety.
- Apply the principles of meditation to everyday life.
Meditation helps train us to let go - of thoughts we get lost in, regrets, worries, and more. When your child is upset or agitated, have them focus on their breathing for a moment. When they’re frustrated because they’re not getting their way, refocus their attention on what they have here in the present.
Always demonstrate how meditation can help, even when we’re not sitting with the intention to meditate.
Do you know any children who meditate? What do you believe is the most effective way of getting them settled into mindfulness practices? Let us know what you think of meditation for children in the comments below.