Teaching Meditation to Children?! Why should we teach meditation to children? What can be the effect of meditation on children? Can it improve the mental health of school-aged children and help them feel more optimistic?
In today’s world, new technologies and especially computer games have filled most of the children’s time! Considering the destructive effects that these devices and lifestyles have on children’s bodies and minds, it is feared that in the future they will become anxious, stressed and unfocused.
These destructive consequences can be greatly reduced by practicing mindfulness meditation. Teaching meditation to children can play a big role in the mental and physical health of our children.
On the other hand, many good habits must be formed in childhood. Otherwise, it may not be easily practiced as a regular practice in adulthood. Schemas, ideas and opinions formed in childhood play a big role in our behavior, thoughts and feelings in adulthood, which are difficult to change.
Researches have shown that meditation has a great effect on reducing stress and anxiety in children and adolescents, as well as in reducing children’s hyperactive behaviors. Teaching meditation to children in order to help them get rid of negative thoughts and behaviors, build self-confidence and concentration and etc,
What is meditation or mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an ancient meditation technique that involves focusing awareness in the present moment as a means of promoting peace, well-being, and insight. The weekly sessions included activities such as mindful breathing practice and paying attention to bodily sensations, as well as exercises designed to develop attention skills and greater awareness of emotions.
Mindfulness practice delivered by school teachers can improve well-being and resilience in children and young people. This is consistent with wider evidence showing the positive impact of mindfulness on school children’s levels of emotional resilience, emotional stability, health and stress; These findings are also consistent with the idea that preventive interventions at a young age can help reduce the incidence of mental health problems in youth.
Why teaching meditation to children?
Children face many problems in the world. They learn how to make good choices and control their emotions. They learn how to be kind to themselves and others while juggling schoolwork and balancing their busy lives. Mindfulness skills can help them in their life journey.
Mindfulness can help a child access thoughts that are related to focus, decision making, and discipline. Teaching meditation to children not only strengthens the child’s attention but also helps him/her to put a distance between his/her emotions and himself/herself. Children develop the skill of choosing their answers in order to improve their reactions.
When children learn to live in the present moment, they will understand themselves better, understand beauty and behave with kindness, empathy and solidarity. When they learn to distance themselves from stressful thoughts, they find calmness, stillness, and peace. When they feel peace and tranquility within themselves, they can share it with others.
Using audio meditation for children before sleep
The destructive impact that digital tools and today’s busy world can have on children’s nerves and psyche is sometimes irreparable. That is why teaching meditation to children should become a good habit.
One of the ways to deal with children’s anxiety and stress is to use audio meditation files for children. If you yourself are a meditator, then you know its positive effects well. Don’t think that silence, meditation and focus on body and mind are reserved for adults. Children can also benefits of meditation. This is why having some audio meditations for kids is a must for every parent.
As a parent, in addition to taking care of your child’s physical needs, you must also provide food for his soul. Reading informative books and personal development stories for children is one of these things. Teaching meditation to children can also be effective in taking care of your child’s soul, mind and even body. You can use the audio meditation files for children and play them before going to sleep.
Some of the audio books can also be used as audio meditation for children. Especially the ones recorded with a soft, gentle and relaxing voice. One of our suggestions is the audio book on the wings of peace, which can be useful for both children and teenagers. In this book, children learn how to become less angry. How to share their feelings with others and take care of their well-being.
Tangible benefits of meditation on children
Teaching meditation to children can help them develop self-confidence. When the child can properly control his emotions and respect the needs of his body and mind, he can better appear in society and perform his activities. Meditation helps the child to put aside his/her negative thoughts and give more importance to himself/herslf.
With meditation, children can control their emotions better. Empathy increases in them. They respect their classmates more and their stress levels and hyperactive behaviors decrease significantly.According to the research, the overall academic performance of the child improves completely after doing meditation exercises. Even in schools that had a bad history of conflict between children and violent behavior, the children were able to find more peace using meditation.
Other benefits of teaching meditation to children include:
- Increase concentration
- Improving the ability to deal with stressful life factors
- A high level of compassion and pity
- Acquiring emotional control skills
- The ability to achieve complete happiness
What should we do so that children will welcome meditation?
We know that it is not easy to keep some children quiet for a few minutes in one place. They like to be active and play as much as possible. That is why you should make meditation a hobby for them. Meditation exercises for children are designed in such a way that the child enjoys it, but your role and the environment in which the child is located also become important.
For children under 6 years old, try to ask them to meditate for a short time each time. Explain that you are doing the same and that you are both playing the same game.
For example, in teaching meditation to children, it is important that if the child is going to think about a balloon, first ask him / her to imagine a giant balloon with the color of his / her choice that is being inflated and rising. Now slowly concentrate his / her mind on his / her body. With these exercises and by spending a little time on these principles, you can see amazing changes in your child’s mental and emotional conditions.
Three methods for teaching meditation to children of all ages
1- Abdominal breathing (deep breath) consciously
There are many things in life, especially in childhood, that we cannot control. Whether it’s a problem with bedtime or being bullied at school, it may make a child feel like a failure.
While practicing psychotherapy with children and their families, many psychologists emphasize the child’s need for a “toolbox”! As long as difficult problems occur to them, they can go to it. When these children have access to a set of mindfulness-based skills to manage their emotions, they will feel truly empowered.
Many psychologists often begin this work by teaching conscious abdominal breathing. Studies show that teaching meditation to children can create a kind of mental protection for children and increase their emotional flexibility.
Our suggestion for teaching meditation to children is that parents practice these mindfulness meditation skills with their children continuously until a desired benefit is achieved.
In order to practice conscious belly breathing, teach your child to get into a comfortable position. For example, sit straight or lie on his/her back. Breathe in through hsr/his nostrils and let the exhaled air flow fill her/his belly. They breathe in slowly and deeply by imagining a balloon expanding in the center of their abdomen through their breath.
They then expel the air from their stomachs again through their nostrils. Continue this method of conscious abdominal breathing for 3 to 5 minutes and focus on the sensations of the body in relation to each moment of inhaling and exhaling. They should feel the relaxation enveloping their entire body.
2- “Relax and feel” method.
During times of sadness in childhood, it is best for the mother to encourage the child to sit at the altar of prayer and think deeply about his/her feelings. This might sound strange, but if you know how powerful it can be.
Modern life encourages us to constantly deprive ourselves of the true understanding of our emotions, whether through TV shows, sugary foods, or excessive preoccupation with cell phones. But setting aside time for peace and quiet is essential, especially when tense emotions arise.
The turmoil and uproar in our world is increasing day by day. This poses challenges for parents, but we can encourage our children to pause and identify their feelings. Emotional intelligence arises when we relax and understand our feelings. It can bring us lifelong advantages in interpersonal relationships, the workplace, and beyond.
3- Appreciation exercises to increase mindfulness
The better we do, the more our awareness and consciousness grows. When we teach our children to always be grateful, we are actually reshaping their minds towards a rich attitude. Using gratitude as a conscious nightly ritual can help all family members tap into the power of presence.
Before going to bed, gather all the family members together and sit in a circle. Ask each family member to name three things they are thankful for that day.
While everyone is voicing their opinions, practice careful, therapeutic listening. This means making direct eye contact with your loved ones without distractions. Breathe deeply and feel infinite gratitude in that moment. Gratitude exercises are very transformative when it comes to cultivating inner and outer calm and presence.