Studies are showing that when children learn how to meditate, they learn how to handle their emotions better and are capable of self-soothing when situations arise. No matter how old your children are, it’s never too late or too early to teach them a few practices. Teaching them also ensures that you are also taking some time out to do a bit of meditative practice. Here are some of the best tips I can give you on teaching your children this invaluable skill.
It Always Starts With The Breath
When it comes to meditation, our breath is vital to being helpful. If we are breathing shallow during meditation, we are not going to be able to really get the full benefits of meditative practice. If your child is at an age where they mimic you, you can make it a simple game for them to learn how to breathe slowly in and out. Since their lungs are much smaller than yours, do make sure that you are showing them inhales and exhales that they can handle. If your little one is turning red before an exhale, smaller breaths will be needed. Older children can learn the 3×3 technique. It is simply three seconds of breathing in, three seconds to hold it, and three to release it. If your child has a meltdown or starts screaming at you, that is the perfect time to get them to practice the 3×3. However, don’t solely rely on intense moments to teach them. Practice is essential to training the body to breathe during stressful moments and practice must come during downtime. You can teach them to do it after they eat a meal. A few minutes before bedtime. When you are sitting in traffic or waiting in a doctor’s office.
Mantras do not have to be a long positive diatribe that has to be memorized before it’s useful. It is best used with breathing techniques and can be as simple as “I breathe in light, I breathe out dark”. You can use colors or positive reinforcement (I breathe in strength, I breathe out fear). The goal is that it’s easily recitable for your child. For older children, encourage them to come up with new mantras, especially if they are nervous about something. Maybe auditioning for the school play is scaring them and you can teach them a mantra to do just before their audition time. They can practice it as much as they want prior to that moment so that it feels comfortable to them.
Take Them On A Journey
While many people think meditation is about being quiet in the moment, sometimes children need something other than quiet. This can be a fun time to explore guided meditations to a far-off field of sunflowers and trees. You can label this their “Happy Place” that they can go when they are scared, nervous, or angry. In guided meditations, you can even explore emotions and what they feel like.
One big thing to remember is that you can give the reigns to your child. Allowing them to take an active role in their meditative practice will make it enjoyable for them. If they want to take you through a guided meditation, let them! If they suddenly want to stop meditating, don’t force it. Allow them to tell you why and explore how that feels. They will come back to it in their own time.