Have you ever tried getting your kids to meditate? I think it’s something we may have to try with H-Bear as he grows, as I definitely think his personality will benefit from some quiet reflection time.
This post was written by Holly Ashby. She works for Will Williams Meditation, who provide courses on Vedic Transcendental Meditation in London, Brighton and Geneva.
There are some things that people just have to accept when they have children. No matter what efforts are undertaken, once these miniature humans are around there are a few things that are inevitable – like a house that’s entirely covered in crumbs and mysterious sticky bits, daily management of controlled chaos and a unprecedented level of noise. Lots and lots of noise. The idea of introducing tranquility in the form of meditation to children’s lives can seem like an insurmountable task, but with some sensitivity and imagination, meditation for children can be a useful tool.
No one would expect a child to meditate as an adult does, but there’s lots of reasons why meditation can be good for children.
The Benefits of Meditation for Children
Meditation has been shown to help children in various ways, even to the point of having hugely positive effects when implemented in struggling schools. In one San Franciscan school, students were found to be happier, had better attendance rates and were less likely to become suspended through bad behaviour after a meditation program called Quiet Time was implemented.
Perhaps most pertinently for sleep-deprived parents everywhere, meditation can help children fall asleep – especially if it’s practised before bedtime. Restless kids refusing to even look at their bed are a challenge to any parent who loves a good nap, but the habit of sitting quietly for a few minutes gives children the chance to rest, think and imagine – calming them down and improving behaviour. Studies have also shown that meditation increases a child’s ability to plan and improve their memory, which can help to improve academic performance.
The unwinding effects of meditation also helps children and teenagers who, quite understandably, become stressed as a result of school workloads and exams. Teenagers especially have to deal with some pretty tumultuous emotions, and even though this melodrama can seem silly to adults, it doesn’t make it any less traumatic. Meditation can lessen some of the anxiety that comes with youth, and help young people with their all important self-esteem.
How to Get Your Kids Meditating
Whether they’re running around the house (usually knocking expensive things over), glued to their game consoles or fast entering into the teenage perma-sulk, how should you introduce meditation into your kids lives? Leading by example is the first step (particularly useful if your children are still in the stage where they like to mimic their parents) and age-appropriate techniques are the second.
For the Under Tens – Bringing meditation into the lives of the under tens is going to have varying degrees of success depending on the age and character of your child. For very young children or those who are more energetic and restless, you can encourage meditative activities, like painting, or listening to music, or getting them to sit still for a minute and notice the things around them. For example, you could point out a plant and ask them everything they observe about it, prompting them to concentrate and look deeper.
Turning off all distractions, such as TV, smartphones or games consoles for half an hour is a good place to start. For older children, or those who are a little more reflective and quiet by nature, you can meditate with them for a few minutes – they don’t necessarily need to close their eyes, or focus on their breath, just offer them the opportunity to simply “be” and take some time out. You are the best judge of what will work best, and there’s lots of resources out there that can help.
For the Over Tens – As children get a little older, and head into their tweens and teenage years, they can begin to meditate in a more formal manner. They can use mantra-based meditations or focus on their breath, and meditate for every minute of their age. The exact form of their meditation will be up to them and you, as a parent all you’ll need to do is facilitate it.