- In a society of competition, constant stress, over-stimulation through media, and perhaps bullying at school, it can be a challenge to keep kids happy. That’s why TheDailyMeditation.com has created this guide to teaching kids to meditate.
- I’ve been teaching and writing about meditation for ten years. In that time I’ve taught and / or been read by over a million people. I’ve also helped thousands of parents to teach meditation to their children. I know from first hand experience that meditation is immensely beneficial to children. And I would love to help you to get your kids meditating today.
- Meditation will boost your child’s happiness and health in as little as twenty minutes. So, let’s get started.
Research proves that your children will be happier after meditating
Longitudinal research proves that today’s youth experience higher levels of pressure and stress than any previous generation of children. Sadly, we live in a day and age where stress is inherent in society. “The stress of getting good grades, high scores on standardized tests, and accepted at top-ranked colleges doesn’t encourage happy family dynamics,” says developmental psychologist Marilyn Price-Mitchell Ph.D.
But there are solutions. There are ways that you, as a caring parent, can help your kids to overcome stress. One of the best ways is by teaching them to meditate.
As a meditation teacher, many parents have asked me whether meditation is safe for children. “It seems a bit too serious,” they say. Honestly, I understand that. To a Western audience meditation does indeed sound serious. But it only sounds serious because we associate meditation with religion and spirituality. In the East, meditation is a fairly standard health practice. There, children have been meditating for thousands of years. To Eastern parents, meditation is no big deal. And so it will be in the West, once we have grown more accustomed to it.
Naturally, you should always consult a doctor before beginning meditation (and that’s true for both you yourself and for your kids). But the simple fact of the matter is that the benefits of meditation far outweigh the cons.
In a world of sensory overload and school, family and internal pressure, kids need meditation as much as adults. Meditation helps kids develop focus and regulate their own emotions. When you teach your kids to meditate you’ll be helping them to stay mentally strong and healthy.
And if that’s not enough, just consider these benefits that meditation offers your children.
There are more than 110 proven health benefits of meditation. The following, however, are some of the most important benefits of meditation for kids.
Meditation greatly helps children to develop their focus and attention. It can, for instance, be very helpful for children with ADHD, though it is also helpful for focus and attention in general.
Meditation removes negative thoughts along with worries. For teens, for instance, it can help them to overcome the stress associated with peer pressure. By teaching meditation to kids you help them to be positive and to avoid negativity.
Meditation offers numerous important health benefits, including boosting the immune system and helping with breathing.
It boosts present-moment mindfulness.
These are just some of the benefits of meditation for kids. Teaching meditation to kids is basically going to help your children to be happier, healthier, calmer, and more well behaved.
I recommend reading this complete list of health benefits to see how meditation can help your child.
I recommend watching this video. It elucidates the importance of meditation for children, showing the good things that happen when schools start teaching meditation to kids.
I’m sure you’ll agree that there are many reasons why it’s important to start teaching meditation to kids. There are simply so many benefits of meditation for kids. And I’m sure by now you are keen to get started. So, let’s now get into actually teaching meditation to children.
Meditation isn’t quite the same for children as it is for adults.
It’s more of a challenge to teach children to meditate than it is to teach adults. But it is a thoroughly worthwhile endeavor, and one your children will thank you for later on in life, when they are calmer and more emotionally balanced than those who do not meditate.
But it is a challenge; a challenge I hope you will embrace.
When teaching children, it’s necessary to begin from the very beginning, with just sitting. As the Zen proverb goes, “When sitting, sit.” But doing something so minimal, so stimulating, can be a challenge for children. That’s why, when teaching meditation to kids it’s imperative that you begin with the very basics.
I’ll share some advice on how to teach meditation to kdis in just a moment. First, though, let’s explore the benefits of meditation for children, to see precisely why meditation is so important for your kids.
Ten minute mindfulness meditation for children –Exercise 1
This is a very simple mindfulness meditation for children, and it’s one of the best ways to start teaching meditation to kids. I recommend asking your son or daughter to adopt the right position, either sitting or lying down. It doesn’t matter precisely what position they take, but make sure they are comfortable and not fidgeting. You ‘ll find this introduction to meditation positions very helpful.
Once your son or daughter is comfortable, continue with these instructions.
1. Ask your child to close their eyes and focus on their breathing. They should do so for a couple of minutes.
2. Now, ask them to focus on what they are hearing. It may help if you ask them to describe, in detail, the sounds they are hearing. This makes them tune in to the sounds around them, which will cause them to focus on the present moment.
3. Now ask them to pay attention to the sensation of touch. Have them describe that they can feel (for instance, wind on the face, soft grass at their feet etc).
4. Now ask them to focus on scents. How does the air smell? Are there any other scents they are aware of? etc.
5. Now move to taste and repeat.
6. Finally, ask them to open their eyes and simply look around them. You may ask them to focus on light, on shades and on other visuals to make them mindful of sight.
The purpose of this meditation exercise is to make your child more aware of the present moment and to help them to focus on one thing at a time (in the exercise they focus on the sense one at a time). In this age of constant stimulation, many children (and adults) struggle to focus. This technique boosts focus and concentration.
I recommend using the technique above first as it helps to get your child grounded. Then continue with the children’s mindfulness exercises below.
Teaching meditation to kids exercise 2: Breathing Mindfulness
Breathing meditation is often the best place to start with any sort of meditation practice. Ask your child to sit comfortably with good posture and to close their eyes. Bring their attention to the sensation of their breath coming and going through the space between their mouth and nose.
Ask your child to place both their hands on their stomach and to feel their breath rising and falling from there. You may also ask them to repeat a simple word as they breathe in and out, saying “In” on in-breaths and “Out” when exhaling.
Work in cycles of five breaths. Have them count five breaths and then ask them to be aware of any thoughts or feelings in their mind. If they are experiencing thoughts or feelings,, ask them to let go and to return their attention to their breath.
Teaching meditation to kids exercise 3. Mindfulness with Sound
For this exercise, once again, begin by having your child focus their attention on their breath for a few minutes. Explain to your child that they are going to hear a sound and that they should focus on the sound as it gets quieter and quieter. Ask them to nod their head when they can no longer hear that sound.
For this exercise, you might like to use a singing bowl or an alternative source of what I call “Zen Sounds”–sounds that produce inner calm. Gradually quieten the sound. When they nod their head (saying they can no longer hear it) have them count five breaths again.
Repeat this exercise a few times.
- Teaching meditation to kids exercise 4. Eating Mindfully
It’s always important to make children aware of what they are eating. When children are aware of what they are eating they are less likely to gorge on candies and more likely to make healthy choices. This exercise helps.
Gather some food into a plate or bowl—be sure that the food is not in its wrapper as this produces unwanted noise.
Have your child count to five breaths. Now ask your child to be mindful of the food on the plate, being aware of the feeling, the image and the scent of the food. If they are holding cutlery you may ask them to be mindful of that too.
Ask your child to take a small portion of the food and to eat it slowly while focusing on the taste. Ideally, they will chew slowly and will focus on the activity of eating. Once they have finishing eating ask them to describe the taste and feeling of the food.
Finally, have your child take five mindful breaths and repeat this exercise. If you would like to learn more about this exercise, please read my complete guide to mindful eating.
Teaching meditation to kids; exercise 5. Walking
Walking is one of the traditional meditation exercises in Zen Buddhism and is a great exercise for children. Take a short walk with your kid(a) (somewhere safe, naturally) and ask them to focus on the sensation of movement in their feet and legs. If your child shows a lack of concentration at any time, stop walking and have them count five breaths.
You may like to extend this mindfulness exercise by focusing on the sensations related to walking. Ask your child to be mindful of their clothing, or the feeling of wind on their skin or of another singular aspect of walking.
Teaching meditation to kids exercise 6. Play
In this mindfulness exercise, kids play a fun game like finger-painting, using a sand table or a similar activity.
Once again, begin with awareness of breath. Now tell your child that they can play in whatever way they like but with one condition: they must be mindful of everything they do. Whatever they choose to do during play, they must focus on it absolutely, as we do when meditating. Ask your child to be aware of all five senses, being mindful of taste, touch, sight, sound and hearing. Once again, if your child loses focus, use five mindful breaths to regain their attention.
Teaching meditation to kids; exercise 7: Meditating on Art
Many children love painting and drawing, both of which can easily be turned into meditation practice. To make art a meditation, find an object that your child wants to draw or paint. Now ask them to observe every aspect of the object for a few minutes. Ask them to describe the shape of the object, the feeling, and so on. This encourages them to practice mindfulness. They can then draw or paint the object, but they must focus absolutely on the object while they create their art.
Teaching meditation to kids exercise 8: Food
This is an excellent way to get a child to learn two important things: meditation and cooking. Get hold of a fun and simple recipe that your child might like to cook (some healthy cookies, for instance). Gather the ingredients, along with any utensils you need.
You’re going to be cooking with your child while teaching them mindfulness meditation. To do this, have your child fully investigate the feeling, smell and taste of the foo d(presuming the food is in an edible state, naturally). At every step in the cooking process, ask your child to be mindful of a) the ingredients, b) any work they are doing and c) the process of change that is happening to the food.
This mindfulness exercise boosts present-moment mindfulness, encourages kids to be more mindful of what they are eating, and teaches them to cook, all at the same time.
Teaching meditation to kids; exercise 9: Music
Music is a great way to get a child to learn mindfulness.
This is actually how I personally learnt mindfulness myself, all those many, many years ago. I played piano and would meditate on the music I was creating.
Don’t worry, you do not need a musical instrument for this exercise. Simply find a tune that your child can hum or sing. Ask them to learn the tune. Then ask them to recite it to you. What matters in this exercise is not the quality of the music, but your child’s ability to focus absolutely on the sounds they are creating.
Not only does this exercise make your kids more aware of sound, but it also enhances mind-body connection. By focusing on the movements of their body while they perform the music, your child connects with their body in the present moment, boosting present moment mindfulness.
Teaching meditation to kids; exercise 10: Inform other parents and have group meditation sessions
This final exercise is simple but powerful. Meditation is much more effective when practiced in a group. I highly recommend informing your friends about meditation for children, and arranging group sessions.
I’ve personally been advocating meditation to both teachers and parents for several years and let me tell you, it is a truly worthwhile cause. Not only does it help both parents, teachers and kids to relax and focus, but it creates a strong, supportive group that in itself is immensely beneficial.
When your children meditate, they will boost both their happiness and health. And when you meditate with them, you will too. If you would like to learn more about meditation for children, grab a copy of Shambhala’s Sitting Still Like A Frog: Mindfulness Exercises For kids; it’s full of simple mindfulness practices to help your child (ages 5-12) deal with anxiety, improve concentration, and handle difficult emotions.NEXT