You’ve likely heard of meditation for adults, and maybe you’ve even learned about the many benefits it offers, but have you ever considered meditation for kids?
While the thought of getting your child to sit calmly for long enough to reap the rewards of meditation might feel overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be!
We at HOMER have compiled our favorite tips and tricks to start building a simple meditation routine with your child. Take a look below to get started today!
What Is Meditation?
At its core, meditation is a practice of mindfulness and self-awareness, and meditation for kids is no different.
By practicing meditation regularly, we can teach our minds to observe stressful thoughts without judgment and learn to relax when we need to most.
Particularly in today’s society with the constant barrage of information and technology coming at us all day long, we allow ourselves very little downtime to breathe, relax, and simply be with our thoughts.
Meditation helps us to switch off from distractions — whether that’s something stressful externally, like a thunderstorm, or busy thoughts racing through our minds — and stay focused on the present moment.
Who Can Benefit From Meditation?
Anyone can learn to meditate, even kids! Children as young as two years old can benefit from meditation and the peace of mind it brings.
By incorporating meditation for kids into your daily routine, your child will have the opportunity to tap into this valuable skill at a moment’s notice to help them find peace and quiet whenever they need it.
The Benefits Of Meditation For Kids
There are many benefits of meditation for kids that come with consistent practice. Some of the most notable benefits include:
- Improved sleep
- Increased focus and prolonged attention span
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Stronger mental resilience
- Improved emotional regulation
- Increased self-awareness and empathy
The Basics Of Meditation For Kids
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of meditation for kids, let’s dive into exactly how to get started!
You may want to start your meditation session by doing a 30-second dance party, stretching, or jogging on the spot — anything to get those wiggles out and help your child get ready to sit quietly and have some focus time.
Once you’re both ready, it’s time to get comfortable and begin preparing to meditate. Despite what comes to mind when you picture meditation, you don’t always have to sit cross-legged with your hands on your knees!
Meditation practice should begin with your child sitting or lying in a comfortable position — whatever feels best.
If sitting with your legs crossed is most comfortable, start with that position. If your child feels most comfortable lying flat on their back, that’s fine, too!
Focus With Breathing
Focusing on the sensations we feel in our bodies is a great way to begin practicing mindfulness and meditation, particularly for younger children who may have difficulty concentrating for long periods.
Start by focusing on simply breathing in and out. Have your child place one hand on their belly and the other hand on their chest. Have them notice how their chest and belly rise when they inhale and fall during exhale.
You can count out loud while doing this breathing exercise. Try breathing in for the count of four, holding for two counts, and breathing out for the count of six.
Your child may find it relaxing to close their eyes during this exercise, or they may prefer to have their eyes open.
After five total counts of breathing, ask your child how they’re feeling. They might feel happy, calm, relaxed, or they may even feel restless or grumpy.
Identifying these emotions along with their bodily sensations is the first step of mindfulness — all emotions are OK! If your child becomes overwhelmed or too restless to continue, tell them you’ll try again tomorrow.
It’s important to let your child take the lead when you’re starting out with meditation for kids. Pushing them too hard too quickly may make them want to avoid it altogether.
Once you feel that your child has grasped the basics of slow, mindful breathing, you can begin to incorporate storytelling into your meditation practice.
This meditation technique is especially helpful to use as part of your child’s bedtime routine so they can relax before sleep.
After finding a comfortable position, have your child close their eyes and bring all of their attention to their breath. They might even like to have their hand on their belly to feel the rise and fall as they inhale and exhale, just as with our simple breathing exercise.
Begin telling your child a story that will allow them to focus on how their body is feeling, bringing their attention to how comfortable the bed feels on their back or how soft their blanket feels on their skin.
The story can incorporate their favorite toys, people, or places and should be relaxing while allowing them to use their imagination and visualize what you’re describing.
For example, you could say something like, “You’re lying on your bed; what do you feel? Do you feel the smooth sheets? Your soft blanket? Your stuffed elephant is whispering goodnight to you in the sweetest voice. Can you hear her?”
Body scanning and progressive muscle relaxation are simple techniques that allow you to help your child get in touch with their body.
Start by lying down flat on your back with your eyes closed and having your child do the same right next to you.
Beginning with the top of your head, ask your child to notice if they feel any tightness or squeezing feelings in their scalp. Have them picture any tightness melting away like ice cream until their head is completely relaxed.
Move down, muscle by muscle — the nose, the mouth, the neck, the shoulders — until they’ve relaxed all their muscles down to each of their 10 toes one-by-one.
You may even want to ask your child to squeeze each muscle as you progress through their body. This helps them feel the difference between a tight muscle and a calm, relaxed muscle.
Expert Tips For Child Meditation
1) Meet Your Child Wherever They Are
When it comes to meditation for kids, you might be tempted to set goals together and work toward meditating for a particular amount of time. This is great! Just remember not to set those goals too high.
When you’re first starting out with meditation, it’s best to start small and work your way up to longer periods of meditation as your child feels more comfortable with sitting still and focusing.
Try just 30 seconds to start, then increase until you and your child are able to practice meditation together for a full minute.
As you and your child gradually begin to look forward to your meditation practice, you can increase up to 10 minutes for each session.
Meeting your child wherever they are in terms of their ability to focus is key to building a meditation practice that you both enjoy. It will also help them create solid mindfulness habits that they can incorporate into their everyday life.
2) Maintain Consistency
As with anything you want to become great at, consistency is key! Try to keep the time of day (morning or evening), the place (a dedicated chair or rug, for example), and even your child’s clothing (anything comfortable) consistent.
This helps your child to associate the time, place, and outfit with relaxation and helps their brain switch into mindfulness mode.
3) Keep Practicing
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! Meditation is called a practice for a reason — it takes a lot of repetition to become masterful.
It can be overwhelming (even for adults!) to take time out of your day or evening and simply be still, so don’t be too hard on yourself or your child if it takes a while to warm up to the art of meditation.
Allow time for yourself and your child to get comfortable sitting with your thoughts, your breathing, and your bodies.
Stick with it long enough to see the benefits meditation offers and you’ll find it easier to complete your sessions.
Enhance Your Meditation Journey With HOMER
By incorporating meditation for kids into your child’s daily routine, you’re helping them learn to use it as a tool to combat stress and refocus whenever they need to!
With consistency and practice, your child will be looking forward to their daily meditation in no time.
Pair your meditation practice with HOMER’s Learn and Grow app for a learning journey that grows with your child. This app facilitates their social and emotional learning, providing opportunities for your child to identify emotions and put their meditation skills into practice.
Combine the Learn and Grow app with your child’s meditation practice to watch them build essential skills for school and life!