Introducing Your Child to Meditation
Meditation and mindfulness teaches us how to control our emotions, how to focus, and reduces stress. Teaching children these skills at a young age will improve their ability to do so as they get older and make life easier as more of life's complexities and difficulties arise. Certainly, teaching a three year old to sit still is no easy feat but with these techniques binging mindfulness and meditation into your home will be effortless and provide many benefits.
Start By Create A Meditation Corner:
A “meditation corner” creates a physical space where children know they can go to gain peace, reduce stress and deal with uncomfortable emotions. In your meditation corner, include cushions, pillows, and maybe even build a little tent. Create this space with your child and fill it with items that they love. Be sure to leave out any items that may be distracting such as toys and especially electronics.
Keep in mind that this is NOT a time out corner! The Meditation corner is a positive place! A time out corner, is a space where some parents send their children, when they want them to reflect on their actions or punish them for “acting out” and expressing themselves inappropriately. A meditation corner, is a space where we want to encourage children to retreat on their own accord when they are in a volatile emotional state or at any time they wish. The meditation corner should be a space where your child wants to spend time.
This is the space where you will incorporate some of the following techniques. This is a space for you to practice meditation with your child and a space for your child to practice on their own.
When training the mind, just like training for anything else, we start with small steps and slowing increase the duration and difficulty. The same technique should be applied to your child’s meditation practice. Start with short increments of time. A good rule of thumb, is to meditate roughly one minute for however many years old they are. The more you practice together, the longer they will be able to focus and you may find the exercise will become easier and more enjoyable.
A simple, common and popular technique is Zen meditation: focusing on the breath. You may perform the meditation by closing your eyes and either repeating “in” and “out” in accordance with the breath or counting the breaths in series of ten then starting over again at one.
Try meditating in the morning a couple minutes after they wake-up. At the beginning of the day, the mind is well rested and less distracted. As you both become more familiar with the habit of meditating, try the technique again mid-day and in the evening.
Another fun calming technique is brahmari: a Sanskrit word that translates to mean bee. Have your child cup their palms over their ears and hum to themselves ten times. Try explaining this method by telling them to “cup their ears, and let listen to the sound of the ocean” (the swirling of air that occurs in the palms and ear canal). Then tell them to make the sound of a bumble bee by humming for as long as they can or until they run out of the breath, then inhale for the next hum. This technique is similar to chanting “om” but much easier for children.
Why do we chant in meditation? Try it! You may find that it is hard to think about other things when you are chanting “om” or performing brahmari. It is just one way of many to quiet the mind.
If you are uncomfortable guiding your child through a meditation there are plenty of mediation apps that are geared towards children. My favorite is Headspace. If an app doesn’t suit you, YouTube has many options. Try several out to find the best one for you and your child. You can even download a free kid’s meditation guided by me. Make sure you follow along with your child even though you are not guiding them through the meditation.
Coloring is a fantastic mindfulness technique that children are already familiar with. Include some crayons and coloring sheets in your meditation corner. Coloring encourages creativity and relaxes the mind. There are plenty of meditation coloring sheets on the internet that you may print for free that promote focus and relaxation.
Set an example:
Be a role model! Meditate on your own where your children can see you. Do not allow your child to prevent you from taking time to meditate. If they are seeking your attention, simply pause, acknowledge them, and calmly let them know that this is your time: “mommy’s or daddy’s peace time.” Remind them that they can have their own “peace time” in their meditation corner, encouraging them to practice on their own while they wait for you. This promotes patience, teaches them to respect other’s space, and encourages them to meditate on their own.
Creating a habit
Just like developing any habit, creating a practice of meditation in your home for yourself and your child, may present some challenges, requires patience, and take effort. It is important to push past any trials to be able to reap the benefits of meditation. With these tips and techniques, the process can be a fun and bring about a positive transformation for your you and your child.
Here is a wonderful little pinterest graphic that sums this all up:
Ready to meditation with your child? Download a free audio clip here!
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