Children are often overstimulated with too much screen use, too many weekly recreational activities, and too much interaction with the busy urban world that surrounds them. Teaching children how to meditate gives them a stress coping strategy that will be last the duration of their lives. Using the power of breath in any given moment has limitless positive effects on a person’s ability to focus, calm down, and lead happier and more fulfilling lives.
Every night before going to sleep, my five-year daughter and I meditate together. She is often overtired when it gets close to bedtime and is also hyper from the many activities and social interactions of her school day. Meditating for 15 minutes helps both of us to relax and transition into the quieter part of our evening together. When I tell people I meditate regularly with a five-year-old, people often respond with disbelief. “How is it possible to meditate with a young child who constantly has the case of the wiggles,” they ask.
First off, don’t expect a young child to meditate for longer than 10-15 minutes. It is difficult for the little people to stay still and asking a child to remain in a meditative state any longer than a quarter of an hour is unreasonable. Children won’t stay completely still when meditating either, but it will be a positive experience as long as their eyes are closed and they are engaged. My daughter and I use various online videos that are made specifically for children. They are free and a wide variety is offered. There are also a variety of free apps to download on your phone if preferred.
The main difference I’ve noticed between regular meditation recordings and alternatives made for kids is the way the information is presented. Kids’ meditations often include a storyline relating to a candy mountain or a princess castle that gives them something to imagine while they lie still.
At age five, children have spectacular imaginations and it is ingenious to use their ability to create fantasy worlds in order to get them to meditate. My daughter is so enthralled with the recordings and visiting these imaginative places in her head that she will actually ‘shush’ me if I ask her a question or interrupt. She takes meditating very seriously and it must be silent for the whole 15 minutes (very shocking and hilarious to hear my child asking me to be quiet).
Within the visualizations at candy mountain or the princess castle, the fundamentals of meditation are embedded into the storyline. When you get to cinnamon bun square, you must ‘breathe in deeply’ and ‘stretch your toes’ after you wake up in your princess bed. It works like a charm and is very relaxing. I recommend finding a children’s meditation that also includes motivational messaging alongside the breathing exercises. Our favourites also include messages that say ‘you are a great person’, ‘you are very smart’ and ‘think of all the people who you love and love you’. Motivational messaging and self-love meditations are incredibly healing and help give kids a sense of confidence and security.
Another important element when meditating with kids is a space to do it in. My daughter and I use specific pillows and lay down in our living room. If you have the extra room, create a permanent space meant specifically for meditating. It helps young children connect that space with relaxing and quiet time. I also allow my daughter to have her stuffed animals meditate with us too. Making meditation too serious will make it unenjoyable, and that isn’t very relaxing. Laying down in your meditative space and dimming the lights will also set the mood and helps kids to calm down faster.
Meditation has helped my daughter to fall asleep more easily and is fantastic bonding time for both of us. It also forces busy moms like myself to lay down and set a good example by relaxing for 15 minutes of the crazy day! I have noticed it also helps when coping with tantrums and emotional moments. My daughter will take deep breaths if asked and is slowly developing a life-long coping strategy for stress. In the midst of baseball, swimming, girl guides and work, it is important to slow down and enjoy your kids. Meditation allows for this time and space, and is an invaluable experience.
How do you meditate with your kids? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.