How to Get Children to Meditate
Did you know that an increasing number of children are dealing with stress, restlessness, and anxiety starting at a very early age? Meditation has been proven to be a great tool to help find peace and balance. So the question is “How to get our children to meditate?” Here are some additional techniques to help get your children in on the fun.
Meditation is a sacred practice and something some may be uncomfortable with. Most of the practices and techniques I will discuss in this post come from the Hindu faith. I personally am Catholic but I am open to other religions and spiritual practices. If you are uncomfortable for any reason, simply don’t follow the techniques and find something you and your family are comfortable with. This is personally our journey to become more peaceful and mindful. These are some things we are trying and working with. We have linked to outside sources that we have found to be a great help.
How Meditation helps our children:
Meditation as a family will bring everyone closer, creating better relationships between parents and children. It will foster a better sense of self and increase self-esteem. It may also help with hyperactivity eliminating medication and improve symptoms. Meditation will help children cope with stress and anxiety and teach them a way to live a healthier life.
Children follow the lead, they are usually found copying or imitating everything they see, especially younger children. Therefore, starting them on a journey in meditation can be as easy as doing it yourself. If you meditate, and they see you, they will want to try it too. I usually find the time to meditate in the evening before bed, my children relax usually laying beside me, ending the day in a calming and centering way. This is also a great way to start your day and something I am eager to try in the mornings as well.
Play the Quiet Game
Schedule some time once a day for an hour or if you are really lucky a couple of hours and play the quiet game with your kids. This game is pretty much “who can be the quietest?” This will teach your kids to quiet down and relax when it is time to break the silence, create a fun way using song or words of love and affirmation to complete your game.
Keep it Short and Simple
Keep it short and simple for your children. Typically a minute of meditation per year of age of your child starting around the age of eight years old, however, you can try this with younger children.
Pranayama (Breathing Exercises)
Breath is connected to prana means life-force energy ayama simply means control together pranayama means controlling our life force. I have found by trying this out that it helps when my children are overexcited or having a meltdown. All I have to do is remind them to breathe and together we begin and calm down.
Here are a few breathing techniques that are favorites among my kids:
- Ujjayi (Victorious Breath): Explore practicing the “deep ocean sound” at the back of the throat, while taking deep belly breaths. It truly calms and settles their energy.
- Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breath): This is said to balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain—leading to better cognitive development. Try a simple version such as holding one nostril and breathe in and out through the other, then switch sides.
- Kapalabhati (Shining Breath): They have fun watching their bellies as they push the air out of their mouths while drawing their abdomen in at the same time.
I found these exercises and more via Kidding Around Yoga
There’s nothing like doing yoga as a family. Sun Salutations are a fun and a generally easy form of yoga to practice together. These 12 poses are said to keep the energy channels of the body open and flowing properly, preventing a host of diseases.
Yoga is a moving meditation, the focus is on the practice itself, breathing, and the poses. We have been using the sun salutations via Childhood 101 You can print out a free printable to help you and your family begin with this practice. Side note, make sure your children are breathing evenly during the whole practice.
This is a great bedtime routine. Yoga Nidra is an ancient practice that brings your awareness to different areas of the body while lying in stillness. I like to put a little tweak on it for kids and have them imagine a magical golden liquid being poured into the different areas of their bodies. This is great for body awareness and gives their minds something to focus on. While it is super relaxing it also helps program themselves for positive dreams.
Sing and Chant Together Using Mantras
Kids love to sing. Chanting improves focus and concentration and has powerful effects on brain development. Here are a few of my go-to mantras and tips to make the most of the experience:
- The Gayatri mantra has 24 syllables, each of which is connected to a different part of the brain. It has been used to enhance intelligence and intuition. It’s also a beautiful song and a great exercise for memory.
- OM is the sound of the universe and divine intelligence: kids can connect with that! Allow your little ones to play with the tone and volume of their OM’s and go at their own pace. The sound can range from a strange and harmonious choir to the sound of different animals howling the jungle. We find this very powerful when we all do it together.
- Chakra toning: Hang up a chart or painting of the chakras (the body’s seven major energy centers). Point to the chakra and have them imagine the color in that area of their body. Have them chant the mantra associated with that chakra. You can also just make similar sounds that the vowels make, as in- uh, ooo, oh, ah, eye, aye, and, eee.
After using the mantras, ask them to keep their eyes closed for a while and notice how they feel. This is a powerful meditation tool that can help kids gain awareness of the effects of using mantras.
Check out more about Gayatri mantras for kids via India Parenting
Besides the vast array of health benefits that massage provides, this is one of the most awesome ways to get your kids to LOVE meditation. It not only creates body awareness but also provides a space for a deep loving connection between you and your child. Ask them to speak up and tell you what areas feel good being massaged (more than likely, it will be their feet, hands, head, and face, as most of us do). Try using an organic coconut oil, after bathtime, before bed.
Here are a few other creative ways to incorporate meditation into your kids’ lives.
- Prepare a meditation space. Explore in nature and have your child pick a stone (earth), fill a cup with water, burn a candle (fire), and use something like a feather to represent the air element. Put the elements in the center of the room. Kids get really into this and they somehow inherently know this is creating a sacred space. Sit in a circle around the elements and begin your meditation.
- Have them gaze at a burning candle for a period of time, this can be a meditation practice in focus and discipline (fire is interesting enough that it can hold their attention).
- Play a game where you place a book on their head and see how slow and mindfully they can walk to the other side of the room.
The main goal here is not to force your children to meditate but to get them interested and familiar with it. Make it a fun and positive experience throughout their childhood, so they are more likely to keep it up as a practice as they grow.
A few tips
LET US KNOW
Do you wonder how much easier life would have been if you had learned mindfulness skills as a child? Using these techniques with your child is changing their lives in the best way, by teaching them mindfulness and compassion, you are setting them up for success no matter what crosses their path. What do you think about using mindfulness techniques with your children? What do you think of the techniques we shared today? Let us know in the comments. Are you attempting mindfulness with your kids? Snap a photo and Tag us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag- #mindfulnessmonday
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