Mindfulness Meditation Should Be Taught to Children
Practicing Mindfulness is a way to deal with stressors, increase emotional regulation, and achieve inner balance. Most articles about meditation focus on how this simple activity can help adults feel more centered, but mindfulness should be taught to our children as well.
You can think of Mindfulness as a way to observe our inner selves and the sensory world inside and around us. Our kids are very scheduled, burdened with many demands, and deprived of adequate playtime. Mindfulness can give them the ability to take a step back and enjoy the moment. It strengthens focus, organized thinking, brain processes and emotional regulation. It is a powerful skill that, once taught, will be a part of their coping toolkit for life.
The best way to teach mindfulness to children is for parents to model it. Sharing the world in a sensory way (e.g. what you see, smell, hear, touch, and taste) with your child will go a long way to making him/her an observer of feelings and sensations—a great first step to being mindful and to achieving healthy emotional regulation. You can also use kid friendly scripts to guide your child through his/her meditation.
Meditation Scripts for Children
- Sit comfortably, close your eyes. Imagine your tummy is a balloon. Inhale through your nose and inflate the balloon. Exhale through your mouth and deflate the balloon.
- Repeat this activity daily and try to increase the duration every time.
- Some children find it helpful to have a stuffed animal placed on their tummy, this way they can see it go up when they inhale and going down when they exhale.
- Make sure your child is comfortable, laying down on a bed, floor or beanbag. Read the prompts slowly allowing for the thought process to take place.
- Close your eyes and think of a place that makes you truly calm and happy. What is it? Where is it? Can you see it in your mind? Are there other people? Who are they? Can you describe them? Take your time, look around taking in all the details of your happy place. Do you hear sounds in your happy place? What type of sounds? Are there voices? Take your time and listen to the sounds all around you. Are there smells you recognize in your place? What does it smell like? If you move around, are you walking? Are you running? How does your body move there? Does it float around effortlessly? Are you flying? How do you feel moving around this place of yours? Take your time and explore this calming place of yours and enjoy the feelings it gives you.
- As a follow up activity have them draw a picture of their happy place.
I have found that many children really need stress management skills. Anxiety is too prevalent among young people. Mindfulness not only helps young kids and teens cope with stress, but it also contributes to their mental wellbeing. For more stress management advice for adults and a link to a great series of meditation podcasts, check out my article Make Time for Yourself.