Last updated on December 9th, 2023.
If you follow the latest trends in health and wellness, you’ve surely noticed the recent attention given to the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. Do you want to get your whole family involved in these wellness practices? Here, we will discuss information on mindfulness and meditation for kids.
What Should I Know about Mindfulness and Meditation for Kids?
Mindfulness and meditation are long-standing disciplines that can significantly impact health and wellness. These practices are great for adults and offer many benefits for kids. One must consider several unique considerations when incorporating mindfulness and meditation into a child’s lifestyle.
Whether or not you question what mindfulness or meditation is, specific information helps apply these wellness practices to kids. Read on to learn all about the best way to introduce mindfulness and meditation to the children in your life!
Why do Children Meditate?
To answer this question, it is first essential to ask: Why does anyone meditate? Meditation is an ancient practice in Eastern religious traditions and is most commonly associated with Buddhism. Buddhist philosophy incorporates many forms of meditation in spiritual development toward enlightenment. The West, however, has popularized mindfulness meditation as a practice that can be separated from any particular belief system.
Mindfulness meditation is drawing awareness to the present moment – typically focusing on the breath and senses – and attempting to separate oneself from the thoughts that usually control us. Western science is finding that this type of meditation offers many benefits for conditions such as high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, insomnia, smoking cessation, mental illnesses, and digestive issues. Meditation has been shown to cause physical changes in brain structure that can improve overall health and well-being.
The term “mindfulness” is often used interchangeably with meditation. It can also refer to components of a mindful lifestyle that one adopts outside of their direct meditation practice, such as eating, drinking, resting, moving one’s body, or enjoying nature mindfully. The more one engages in mindfulness meditation, the easier it will be to be more mindful and present in all areas of life. A conscious lifestyle allows a person to take full advantage of their consciousness and avoid the negative thinking loops in which we tend to get stuck.
There are many reasons that children might be introduced to meditation and mindfulness. First, learning to meditate and become in tune with one’s mind early in life has many advantages. Many people consider a meditative practice life-changing and wish to have discovered it sooner. By teaching the kids in your life to meditate and be mindful, you are equipping them with valuable skills and setting them up for success as adults. In addition to developing healthy patterns for the future, meditating can have many direct advantages to a child’s life.
How Do You Calm Down Kids?
These days, kids are facing large amounts of anxiety and stress. This stress can result from academic pressure, home environment, and other anxieties. In addition, the advancement of technology has resulted in nearly constant sensory stimulation through devices and screens. Meditation allows children to feel a sense of peace and stillness amid this chaos and has been shown to help children relax by reducing stress levels and easing anxiety. Meditation can be a great way to calm down children with excess energy, especially before bedtime.
Meditation for Children’s Behavior
Meditation can also solve behavior problems and behavioral conditions in children. According to Childmind, meditation can help tremendously with challenges such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, depression, anxiety, and anger management issues. Meditation fosters self-acceptance, which allows children with these challenges to be less emotionally and behaviorally reactive. Instead, kids can redirect their negative thinking into more positive behavior outcomes. Instead of constantly punishing children, allow them to learn and grow for themselves by teaching them to meditate.
Does Meditation Help with School?
Academic difficulties are distressing for the entire family, and parents may need help to improve the situation. Often, children are criticized for their failure to meet academic expectations, which can easily take a toll on their self-confidence and overall mental health. Problems in school performance are often related to a child’s emotional health, so meditation can be beneficial. By reducing behavior problems and improving attention, kids can better focus on learning while at school.
Can Toddlers Meditate?
How young is too young to start meditating? Children have a hard time sitting still and remaining focused on something. Most will be receptive to and able to understand meditation practice once they reach adolescence. Of course, this will vary between children, but it is a rough guideline. However, this is not to say that aspects of mindfulness and meditation (such as taking deep breaths or sitting quietly for a few minutes) cannot be demonstrated to younger children and even toddlers. Even very young children can benefit from exposure to meditation.
How Do I Teach my Child Mindfulness?
Teaching a child mindfulness might seem daunting, but it can be a very enriching experience for you and the child. It will be most effective if you practice meditation and mindfulness yourself to set an example. I’ve included information below and strategies to teach mindfulness and meditation to your child effectively.
How Long Should Kids Meditate?
This is a great question and will depend highly on the age and individual disposition of the child you are working with. Healthy Children provides the following guidelines, which tend to be recommended by pediatricians:
- Preschool kids: A few minutes per day
- Gradeschool children: 3-10 minutes twice per day
- Teens: 5-45 minutes per day
Again, this is just a guideline; you must find what works best for your child. It is recommended to start slow and gradually increase time as the child becomes more experienced with meditating. As many kids cannot sit still for long periods, it might be best – especially for a beginner – to break up the meditation into two shorter sessions of just a few minutes at a time.
Why is Breathing Important in Meditation?
No matter what method or length of time you use in teaching your child to meditate, breathing must be at the center of the practice. Breath, or “prana,” is the life force that connects our mind to our body and channels our energy flow. If the breath is disrupted, the mind and body will be as well, so it is essential to establish proper breathing techniques. Teaching children to breathe diaphragmatically with deep, even, and natural breaths would be best. When the mind begins to wander during meditation, bringing attention to the breath entering and exiting your nostrils is a great way to refocus.
Morning Meditation for Kids
Meditating simultaneously each day is recommended, as this will be most effective in preparing and conditioning one’s mind to practice. Meditating in the morning can be a great practice to get in the habit of. Benefits of morning meditation include taking advantage of peace, having a clear mind, cultivating focus, and setting the stage for the rest of the day through “positive momentum.” By teaching kids to meditate in the morning, you can set them up for a great day, whether in school, sports, or other activities.
If you are looking for an excellent meditation to do in the mornings, it’s always helpful to start your day with loving-kindness meditation.
Children’s Guided Meditation
Guided meditations can be a valuable tool to aid in meditation for all ages – and especially for kids. Providing gentle instruction gives the mind a concrete focus to prevent it from wandering. Some guided meditations assist one in checking in with the breath and body while sitting and breathing, while others incorporate visualization of a peaceful location or experience. Reading relaxing stories to young children can also be a form of guided meditation.
YouTube and Spotify offer excellent guided meditations appropriate for children, as do many other platforms, such as Alexa and Amazon Echo. Annaka Harris has several guided meditations specifically for children on her website. Several apps, such as Headspace, also provide meditation instruction. Having recently released Headspace for Kids, developers communicated: “We want children to be healthy and happy, not just now but for the rest of their lives. And teaching them about meditation early would help them do just that.”
(Learn all the benefits of guided meditation in this article!)
Meditation is for All Ages!
As you can see, meditation and mindfulness are excellent practices for anyone to develop. Meditation has an impressive array of benefits to physical and mental health, behavior, school performance, and overall wellness. With this information and a little practice, you can teach a child to meditate, cultivate mindfulness, and reap the many long-term benefits of this beautiful lifestyle. If you’re ready to take this leap, check out our article on the best online meditation teacher training.