Meditation. Mindfulness. Awareness. These words can be found everywhere we turn. Like many, I have drunk the Kombucha and am a total believer in the benefits of meditation and living mindfully. As I work every day to live in a place of calm, my sweet and loving children are often derailing my practice as their energy levels seem to increase with every passing hour.
So one day I asked myself, “What if my kids could live in a place of calm too and how do I get them there?”
You have to look a little harder to find it, but there are plenty of websites and apps popping up to encourage kids to process their emotions, release their worries and develop a meditation practice.
In addition to keeping us as parents from falling off the mindfulness wagon (or convincing ourselves that our excessive wine consumption is just a preventative measure in avoiding our cognitive decline) there are huge benefits for our children in helping them to develop a meditation practice. But, why should we add another activity to our children’s already overloaded plates?
Meditation can help your kids sleep better
Our children’s brains are stretched to the limit all day. And then we wonder why our child seems so wired at bedtime or is wide awake with a nervous stomach at 8:30pm when he should be drifting off into dreamland.
We all need downtime at some point in our day. If we don’t get it, it can feel like you are trying to park your car as the speedometer reads 50 mph. How can we expect our child to come to a complete stop, at the time we designate for them, when their brains are still spinning from a day packed with non stop stimulation?
Meditation encourages our children to slow down, take some deep breaths and become aware of what they are feeling in their bodies.
This activity can be accomplished in one minute to start and can extend longer, depending on their age and attention levels.
Studies demonstrate the positive effects of meditation and mindfulness on a child’s brain.
Meditation has been shown to help kids improve attention and behavioral problems, decrease anxiety and improve happiness.
In my family, we all struggle with anxiety as our brains spin at rates that feel like well above the legal limit! By incorporating a meditation practice into our evening activity, my children have an easier time falling asleep, are better able to tap into this newfound state of calm when necessary throughout the day and demonstrate more kindness and compassion towards their peers.
Meditation gives kids control over their bodies and minds
Do you remember the way you felt the first time someone suggested that you just take a deep breath? Perhaps you recall the few seconds when your body seemed almost incapable of feeling stress. In these moments, we were reminded that we actually do have some control over the way we feel. Kids can also learn this technique for use at school or with friends. And no, they don’t need an Apple Watch or Fitbit to tell them to do it.
Introducing meditation to our children is a gift. The gift is in teaching our children that they have control over their bodies and their minds.
When my children meditate, they feel calmer, they fall asleep easier and they can concentrate better.
Meditation reminds them that they can find their inner calm, even if for only a few minutes. Ask them to try it once during the day by taking in 3 deep breaths when something bothers them or they feel stressed.
Headspace offers various meditation programs that are age specific and meant to address different scenarios. For example, there is a one minute meditation for kids ages 5 and under that focuses on staying calm as well as a nine minute meditation for kids ages 9-12 that is directed towards kindness. Headspace offers a free trial period and then a continuing subscription service.
Calm is another app that offers guided meditations ranging from three minutes to twenty-five minutes. These timed meditations are voice guided so that children can listen to a calming voice and find redirection if/when their mind begins to wander. Calm can be purchased with a monthly or yearly subscription. Other apps to check out are Dreamy Kid, Take a Chill and Stop as well as Breathe and Think Kids.
There is no shortage of apps available for your children but you need to be patient as you introduce them to your kiddos and find the one that works best for them. Who knows? Maybe they’ll start coming to you to meditate with them!?