3 Ways to Teach Kids Meditation
Updated: Feb 4, 2022
Juggling kids, a career, family, and friends can fill up your day fast, with no breaks in between. Meditation is a great practice for taking a moment for yourself to unwind, relax, and gain clarity of mind.
Meditation isn’t just for adults – children as young as 3 years old can benefit greatly from developing a meditation practice.
Studies show that teaching kids meditation can increase attentiveness, foster respect for classmates, aid with self-control, and help them develop empathy. Meditation also helps kids experience less anxiety, depression and helps reduce hyperactivity and other ADHD symptoms.
One study done in San Francisco showed a steep improvement in overall academic performance for students who participated in mindfulness meditation and quiet time.
The benefits of meditation cannot be overstated, but you might be thinking your 5-year-old bundle of energy won’t sit still for two minutes – let alone meditate.
While you can’t expect the same level of commitment and self-control from little ones that you expect for yourself, meditation can be easy to teach your kids. They’ll be sure to reap the benefits for the rest of their lives.
Here are three ways to teach your children to meditate.
1. Meet them where they are – The Balloon Method
Children have infamously short attention spans, so it’s unrealistic to expect them to immediately have the ability to sit quietly for half an hour. Some adults even struggle with meditating for that long.
The best way to introduce kids to meditation is to understand what their capabilities are, and meet them where they are. This often means focusing on short sessions that you’re able to do often with them.
The balloon method is especially good for introducing intentional breathing and meditation for children as low as 3 years old.
This beginner’s method provides a simple and kid-friendly image to help kids get more in touch with their breathing.
The Balloon Method: 3-6-year-olds
Ask your child what their favorite color is.
Tell them that inside of them they have a balloon of that color, and it’s their job to inflate and deflate it without letting the balloon “pop”.
Instruct them to breath in deeply for 5, and slowly exhale for 5.
If they breathe in or let out their breath too fast, the balloon “pops”.
This short exercise only takes a few minutes, and the balloon imagery quickly engages kids. Allow them to wiggle around a little or even erupt into giggles afterward. Remember – children aren’t going to develop the skills to go into a meditative state for a long time like adults can.
2. Tell them a story – Breathe Like a Bear 6+
Children are imaginative in ways that adults try hard to recapture. A good way to get kids introduced to the basics of meditation is to integrate the practice in a story, so they can use their imaginations to guide them into being more aware of their breathing.
Breath Like a Bear is an illustrated book that provides easy-to-follow breathing exercises that are integrated into a story.
Utilizing your child’s imagination is a great way to introduce guided meditation. Instead of the typical “think of a place that you feel calm”, ask them to describe a place they like from a book or show they’ve seen recently that made them happy. As you guide them through the meditation they imagine themselves in this imaginary world.
3. Unwind before bed – any age
Bedtime is a great time to introduce a daily meditation practice. It may help get kids to sleep faster and help them process through any emotions or feelings that arise during the session, as they sleep.
The “squeeze and relax” method is perfect for bedtime.
The Squeeze and Relax Method
Have your children close their eyes and squeeze every muscle in their body.
Now have them let go and relax all their muscles.
Tell them to imagine a green light passing over different parts of their body. When the green light is on their hand, they should squeeze and let go. Go body part by body part, and encourage them to feel each part of their body relax fully as they let go of the squeeze.
Meditation can help your children regulate their emotions better, reduce stress, and be overall happy. It’s easy to start integrating meditation into their daily lives, but they’re more likely to continue to use it if they see you meditating as well.
Meditation can be a family affair or something special that you share with one of your children.
However you decide to introduce meditation to your children, they’re sure to benefit from it for years to come.
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