Meditation for Kids: Benefits, How To, and Meditation Tips
What is meditation for kids?
Kids are not just little adults. They have shorter attention spans, often love to move, and are interested in different topics. Mainly, kids love to play! (We adults could learn a lot from kids.) First, to get kids interested, meditations have to be presented to kids in the form of play. If it’s not at least a little fun, then the kids aren’t going to want to do it. And meditation is just not something that you can make someone do, regardless of age. If the meditation is forced, it’s not really meditating.
The point is meditation can be fun. Sometimes it’s the “yahoo!” kind of fun; other times it is a more peaceful, quiet fun. It depends on the type of meditation. All meditations are meant to be relaxing, but let’s consider it in more detail: Do you want an energizing kind of meditation that you might need before a soccer game? Or do you need one that is quieter, calming energy down?
There are certain types of meditations that will be more suitable for kids. Meditations involving easy breath work, movement, and/or positive intentions are great for young kids. These can include release breaths, combining breathing with movement as is done in yoga, and repeating happy phrases.
Why should kids meditate?
Life can be stressful and kids often feel it. The stress of regular everyday activities can wear at them, especially if they are unsure of how to return to a state of balance. Fortunately, meditation provides kids a way to take a break and re-center themselves. By teaching kids to meditate early on, they can feel more at ease and live with clarity.
Even studies tout the benefits of meditation for kids
Meditation can help kids in so many ways. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) endorses teaching kids meditation to help with anxiety, stress, boost confidence, and decrease physical discomforts.
A Baltimore elementary school found that they had fewer detentions and referrals once they implemented meditation into the school. Instead of sending kids to detention when they were acting out and stressed, kids would first get sent to a meditation room where they could learn to calm and rebalance. Teaching kids a self-help tool transformed the school.
In a 2004 study, kids with ADHD were taught meditation for 6 weeks with classes twice a week and regular practice at home. Parents reported feeling happier and more able to address their children’s behaviors. Kids had less anxiety, slept better, were able to focus more in school, and experienced less disruptions. Another study on a mindfulness-based meditation program showed similar results with children experiencing less anxiety, more focus, and improved behavior. These successes are also supported by many other research studies.
More and more kids are meditating
Due to the many benefits, there is a growing interest in meditation for kids. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the number of kids meditation has increased from 0.6% in 2012 to 5.4% in 2015.
Should my kid meditate?
Any child can benefit from meditation but there may be certain situations in which meditation can be particularly useful.
If you child exhibits these kinds of behavior, try teaching your child how to meditate
1) Your child is empathic or highly sensitive. These kids are very sensitive to the feelings of others. Crowds, school, and other group settings can easily create anxiety or overwhelm. Meditation can help these kids self-regulate their nervous systems.
2) Your child has a test, competition or game, or performance: Having to put yourself on stage, take a test, or quickly react in a sports game can be stressful. Learning how to develop a calm focus can help your child’s performance and ease anxiety.
3) Your child has been through a stressful event or transition like a move, divorce, death in the family, or other major life change: The more huge stressors a person has been through, the more at risk a person is for physical and mental illness. Meditation can help children ease through life transitions.
4) Your child has attention issues: Difficulty paying attention can interfere with learning and contribute to behavior disruptions. Studies have shown that meditation can help create a calm awareness and lessen behavioral problems.
5) Your child has difficulty sleeping: Sleep affects every body function as well as mood and confidence. Meditations can help balance the autonomic nervous system, making it easier to sleep.
6) Your child has trouble getting along with others: Kids may have trouble getting along with other kids due to a lack of awareness. Meditation can help kids develop better awareness of themselves and others to improve relationships with friends and family.
7) Your child could use a boost in self-confidence: Meditation helps you get to know yourself in without judging. Learning how to be in the world without judging yourself is powerful, and that kind of centered confidence can carry into adulthood.
What is guided meditation for kids?
Guided meditations for kids are led by either an adult or older kid so that the kids can follow by example, based on verbal and physical cues. Kids are like sponges. Music can be incorporated based on personal preference.
Common meditation themes for kids
Kids love to pretend! Imagination is key in meditation for kids. Often, meditations will have animal themes like butterflies, giraffes, or magical creatures. Really anything in nature is popular. Using the elements of water, air, fire, and earth can help kids relate to the meditations. It is also great to incorporate the various senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell, and even taste.
Teaching kids how to meditate
1) Keep it light. If a kid doesn’t feel like meditating, give them some time and space to come around. You want meditation to become something they look forward to, not another chore.
2) Keep it fun! Incorporate themes that the child is interested in. Let the kids give feedback without judging. Kids will often want to adapt the themes based on their own ideas.
3) Keep it short and sweet. It doesn’t have to take long to learn how to meditate effectively. Here are some guidelines:
- Toddlers and preschool-aged kids: a few minutes per day
- Elementary-school-aged kids: 3-10 minutes twice per day
- Teens and adults: 5 to 20 minutes (or more) twice per day
How to get started
Step #1: Walk the talk. Before teaching to kids, start meditating yourself, even if it is just 5 minutes twice a day. Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s can be as simple as noticing your breathing.
Step #2: Know the benefits. Like adults, kids can be motivated if they understand the benefits. Teach kids how meditation can help whether they need to take a break, to relax, to sleep, to focus, or to feel comfortable.
Step #3: Use a meditation script or video to ease you in. At first, it can be helpful to follow a kids meditation script. Read through the script first to become familiar with the words. Then, try it out yourself so you are comfortable modeling it. If there is a kids meditation video available, then you can actually simply follow along together with your kids.