Teaching children meditation is unbelievably beneficial. A child who is easily frustrated can be taught to calm themselves down; a child who is very sensitive can learn to let go of hurt feelings; or a child who gets so overtired they just can’t sleep can be taught techniques to help put themselves to sleep.
Mindfulness meditation for small children
A FEW SUGGESTIONS
Be an example
Simply put, small children are natural imitators, if they see you doing meditation they are likely to want to try it out too!
Simplify the process
Make it easy to understand, especially for very young children. Use simple language and when possible use the senses – seeing, hearing, touch, smell and taste to engage them early on in mindfulness. For example – Do not have the TV turned on when they are eating, so their attention is not pulled in two directions. At the same time engage them in using their sense of taste and smell (best done when eating food they like 😉 ) by either asking questions or making comments about the food.
Story-telling is a great way to tap into your child’s imagination and to help them follow along with less fidgeting. There are many great books in the market place that use story telling to teach meditation to children. From Christian or Buddhist stories to totally non religious. When looking for stories focus more on what will your child like (after all an engaged child will learn more quickly). Then focus on what fits your own moral and social beliefs and then focus on specific lessons. I picked out a couple of books and audios that are non religious, well rated and engaging. Of course I highly recommend you check out what is available for yourself, you know your child best!
Start with an easy experiment
To show what meditation is and to get your child interested in trying it show them what meditation can do. For a child over the age of about 5 for example
- Take a jar of water, add a bit of dirt or sand and shake it up.
- Explain that the dirt or sand is like our thoughts swirling around, messy and hard to see through.
- As the dirt or sand starts to settle to the bottom of the jar –
- Explain that just like the water gets clear when the junk settles down, meditation helps your head to become clear and quiet, like the water.
- Explain that when your head gets quiet so do your hurt feelings, anger or whatever the mood is that troubles your child.
- Children are smart, by explaining how meditation will help them feel better are they are more likely to give it a try 🙂
If your child has not done any meditation before keep your expectations small, just a couple of minutes at a time and slowly build up from there. Remember 2 minutes for a child can feel like 10 minutes does for an adult!
It is natural for children to be fidgety. Keep encouraging them to come back to the meditation at hand.
Make meditation a regular practice, the more it is practiced the easier it becomes. Don’t give up if you don’t see dramatic results in the first few sessions. The best results will come with practice 🙂