Why should children meditate?
Meditation can be critical in helping children and adults learn to regulate stress. Meditation is the act of checking in with the body, mind, and mood and developing an understanding relationship with your thoughts and emotions. It is a powerful tool to help regulate stress, help promote calm and present thinking.
On an average school day, children often face situations that cause them frustration and stress. Circumstances such as social interactions and school expectations can cause children to lash out, cry or shut down. Young children have limited resources to deal with pressure, yet stress has become an increased constant in their lives.
The practice of meditation and mindfulness activities can help to calm the nervous system and provide physical and mental relaxation. For children, it is important to help them identify when they are feeling overly hyperactive, upset, distressed, or facing difficult, unmanageable emotions. The practice of meditation can offer them a tangible and relevant opportunity to relax.
Using visualization and body scan meditation allow children to redirect their attention to calming down. This helps with classroom management for teachers and promotes a calm household. It assists with self-regulation and impulse control for children. At School, a five-minute practice, at circle time after recess or before going home, can help ground a child. At home, it can be made as part of the morning or evening routine, participated with the whole family. It can also assist him or her with transitions and help the child process the day’s expectations.
Unlike adult practices in meditation which may require extensive time working on stillness or breathwork, a child’s practice in mindful meditation may be based on the child’s own experiences relating to concrete objects, such as swaying like a tree branch or listening very carefully to sounds. These practices are designed to engage children quickly and typically take 5 to 8 minutes.
Mindful meditation practices for children needs to be responsive to their developmental needs. Not all children are able to maintain focus throughout a meditation experience. Be prepared to allow children to move their bodies or open their eyes.
Allowing children to giggle or be a little silly with permission can help to create a sense of happiness and joy, which is key for a successful meditative practice. Meditation should be a happy practice and one that allows a child’s imagination to flow.
Teachers and parents can help create a meditative space by clearing a small location where children can sit or lie down without worrying that they will bump into a friend. Children can use rest mats to lie or sit on and help mark out their own space. Lights can be turned off or down so children will have fewer distractions.
Children are surprisingly receptive the to notion of being calm and will choose this option if they are provided with the tools at home, from a regular class, or from school.