5 Easy Ways To Teach Meditation To Children
The benefits of meditation for children include building self-esteem and dealing with shyness to improving creativity and concentration. Here are some ways to introduce it to your family life.
Many pressures face children growing up today, and mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, now affect one in ten children and young adults – that's three in every classroom. What can we do to help them?
In How To Teach Meditation to Children, David Fontana and Ingrid Slack explain that teaching meditation to children gives them an incredibly effective tool to help them manage their own feelings and relieve stress, anxiety and shyness.
Here are 5 top tips to help you share meditation with your child.
- Get them relaxed
Encourage your child to meditate with a straight spine, head upright, both feet flat on the floor, and hands clasped lightly in the lap. This relaxed posture is not only good for the body, but it also helps the mind to remain lightly alert rather than drifting.
When the meditation is over, can they try to maintain the peaceful frame of mind and relaxed body they have just experienced as they go about their day?
- Focus on the breath
This is a basic meditation technique that even very young children can try. Encourage your child to breathe in slowly to the count of three, hold their breath and then breath out to the count of three. When they breathe in, ask them to focus on the feeling of coolness at their nose and the feeling of warmth as they breathe out.
Suggest that they should look on any thoughts that get in the way simply as distractions and take no notice of them. This is great for helping children build their focus and self-awareness.
- Try walking meditation
Ask your child to move around as softly and gently as they can, as if they were stalking someone through the woods and avoiding stepping on twigs. Tell them to be aware of each movement they make – the thigh muscle as they lift the back leg and move it forward, the foot as it comes to the ground, the trunk as it advances in space, their hands and arms as they help maintain balance, and so on.
This exercise is particularly good for children who struggle with sitting mediation, helping them to relax, still the mind and bring a meditative body awareness into everyday life.
- Visualize someone they admire
This is a fun exercise to help children harness their imagination to meditation. Start by getting them to concentrate for two or three minutes on their breathing, then ask them to visualze the face of someone they admire very much. It may be a sports personality, a musician or someone in their family.
Ask them to hold the image steadily in their imagination and, if thoughts come into their head, let them float out again as they keep their attention focused on the face in front of them.
- Set a challenge
The ‘Five Minutes of Life Observation’ is a more demanding exercise in mindfulness that older children may particularly enjoy. Your child simply spends five minutes trying to be totally aware of every activity they engage in, noting their senses, their feelings and reactions, and then recording them as accurately as possible.
For example, they might tell themselves, ‘I awake, it is morning, I see the celing of my bedroom which is white and smooth ... [and so on]’ It sounds easy, but it isn’t!
With practice, they will really notice how their powers of concentration improve – essential for all that study and revision.
Find out more
The book How to Teach Mediatation to Children by David Fontana and Ingrid Slack is out now, published by Watkins Publishing, RRP £12.99