Meditation and Children
The childhood is the elementary and the bottom line in building the human being. It is during that when the parents get to mold their kid and see whoever they want their kid or kids to become. Almost all the parents get successful in their effort of molding their kids. As the child grows, he or she will be open to be listening to everything that the elders would say. The child would not know to be judgemental and so every word or action that comes from the elder’s mouth would be an end answer to him or her. All the parents wish only for a happy, healthy, and a successful life for their children.
As the children grow and reaches their teenage, they think that they have the ability to think on their own and ignore all the good and bad being told to them. At times, they would lose their listening capacity and respond according to the heat of the moment. The adolescence and hormones would be having the teenagers in its control and thus induce this reaction on the kid. This, however, can be kept under control by getting the children in shape in their young ages even when they have realized the world.
How kids have lost their playtime?
It is seen that today’s kids exhibit high levels of stress, anxiety, and restlessness. It is because of the competition of life that they are put into. From adopting technology to richness, high class amenities to the status, get them to be constantly thinking on the other side. I have come across parents that feel happy when they see their kids operating Phones and iPads in the age when they cannot hold it properly. And then cribbing about it later is going to fetch no good. In fact, today’s generation don’t know how to play outside their doors as they are busy succumbing to technology.
The best gift that any parent could teach their kid is ‘Meditation’. Teaching their kids how to meditate will give them the energetic start to their entire life journey, The personalities get formed, the bondage and linkage between the human beings get more meaningful, the view of the world gets developed, they become more optimistic, observant, caring, loving, compassionate. The skills that they develop will be more meaningful as opposed to the development of other kids during their childhood. In short, meditation at young age will benefit the children and their growth in ways that their parents couldn’t keep count of.
Kids that practice mindfulness meditation certainly build positive traits like increased self-control, more empathy, respect, better attentiveness, and listening skills. In addition, meditation will help them manage their anger, handle challenging situations such as hyperactivity, anxiety, stress, depression, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Thus, paving the way to kids for mindfulness meditation to kick start with will certainly benefit them now and for their entire life. However, this beautiful journey ahead should not be the reason for the parents to force meditation to their children. Parents will have to start with them first in order to help their child understand what they are doing and inculcate the habit.
Forcing the child to adopt anything will develop aversion which a parent don’t want. Hence, the children should be given the most gentle encouragement to get them to practice meditation.
You will see a whole new metamorphosis of life happening in front of you for the best. And so, will be the best teenage part of their life.
How elders can help?
Home and schools are the foundation for any child’s character and behavior. If you are either a parent or a teacher, you have a major role in helping your kid or kids inculcating the meditation practice.
The ways mentioned below will help you with tips that you can adopt for building the best life that your children can get.
Make it fun and interesting
The most important tip to be remembered when helping your kids adopt meditation is to keep it simple, fun, engaging in ways that they forget the time, interesting and intriguing. The kids love to question everything. Make them feel that they are part of a pleasant activity like play, so they will want to do it daily.
Take your time to understand what your kids enjoy doing. This will help you understand the principle of ‘their fun techniques’ and it will make it easy for you from there on.
Meditation means to sit simply and observe. For children, it can be any observing methods and so you can start off with what they like – toys. Instead of asking them to sit still doing nothing, you can make it interesting and fun for them. You can place a toy on their tummy and tell them to focus on how the toy moves up and down with their breath.
Ask them to try to move the toy as slowly as possible. And there you go, you just taught them deep breathing without their noticing.
Adopt their age
Of course, the teaching approach varies a lot on the children’s age. A 6 to 9 year old kid, 10 to 13 year old tween, and 14 to 17 year old teen – the teaching methods are different and so is the learning.
You will need to understand what interests them and practice those teaching techniques with them to help them adapt to their learning. The age and personality of the kid are the main factors.
Keep it short
The next major factor is the time. Keeping it as short as possible fetches you high chance of the kids wanting to practice the next day. Like I mentioned, forcing a child towards doing anything will build aversion and you don’t want that.
Children do not have the patience to sit still for more than 20 minutes. So keeping the meditation practice short and interesting, particularly for those under 10 years will get you more brownie points. Remember your mantra is to keep them ‘wanting more’ of this practice.
As age increases, you can alter your time for the children.
Succumb to their imagination
Children find it challenging to comprehend abstract concepts. Instead, they enjoy doing things that allow them to use their creativity, intellectual and imagination skills. Ensure to keep these interests in the practice. And this means, you will get a chance to exercise your creativity and intellectual muscles.
One way to framing meditation is as a challenging game. I’m sure you have heard of a game called ‘Statue’. Whatever is that you are doing, when you hear the word ‘statue’ you are supposed to keep still and not release your position until told. You can use this as a meditation practice for your child. And I’m certain, children will love this. So you will need to talk their thoughts during their ‘Statue’ phase and help them meditate by building upon their imagination.
Build meditation space
Kids love changes everyday. Being transported into another world will make them want more of doing it. Different experiences, new places, weird objects, different skills to use will spice their liking towards meditation. You can sugarcoat your sentences that you use on them to your advantage that will get them actually listening.
Help them believe what meditation can do to them. Help them accept the truth. Tell them how they can enjoy their life be practicing what they are doing now. During every phase of your talks, remember to keep them engaging. You can use someone they like as a bait to build upon your talking.
Lead by example
Kids learn, in fact, they learn more by reflecting others than by doing things on their own with instructions. Especially during childhood, they like to replicate adults and feel older. So you know what this draws line towards – the best way to teach meditation to kid is for you to meditate. Period.
You have all the eyes on you and so make sure to set a solid example. Allow your kid to realize how enjoying it feels to sit still. This will pile up a lot of questions to your kid and so become ready to answer them, in a way, to lure them to practice meditation.
Do you want your children to meditate? Simple. be that example.
Understand this is a huge step. This regulation that you seed in your kids will help them throughout their life. Sticking on to the routine daily will help them follow the same in their adult age as well. They will impart sticking to time and sticking to a habit.
Be supportive and flexible at every move that you make with your children. At the end of your practice together, remember to ask them how they felt during that process. Whatever is their comment, accept it and ruminate on how you could make it a best experience for them.
Again, you can get their creativity into practice by asking them to draw and explain their meditation experience. You will be surprised on how much they can create. This further motivates children to unfold self expression and self-awareness.
Just don’t be awed by their creativity and leave it with it. Get your validation exercise beginning and help their imagination put into your words. Leave no dot unnoticed in their drawing. If they are blowing their experience out of proportion, do not stop them initially because they are building their imagination bricks.
If you are leading a group of children, acknowledge everyone’s experiences, and ensure no child is left unnoticed, confused, unhappy, or lost about it.
Manage your expectations
Lastly, make sure to keep your own expectations in control. Remember you are dealing with children and meditation. Both of these takes its own time to grow. You can neither make your child a monk in 2 weeks nor enjoy the full benefits of meditation in a short while.
What you are doing here is building the foundation and that is most crucial. You are planting a seed during the most important time which will then grow to become the finest tree and shade others.
Benefits of meditation
Albeit meditation is working towards the long run, it has its own immediate benefits that enhance itself to become the best in the long run. Remember you are giving these gifts to your kid whilst helping them learn meditation.
Better focus and concentration
Things have gotten so busy that our attention spans can’t just keep up. Children that grow with their noses in the nature, exercises, books, and playing outdoors other than getting involved in technology and internet will mirror better focus and remain attentive. Meditation teaches them to stay focused and direct their attention to one thing at a time. It helps them to understand how to not get distracted.
Cultivates compassion and self-esteem
As kids, falling prey to insecurities is quite common. This will become a serious issue as they grow. Keeping your child engaged throughout the day is quite not possible and that habit will build them aversion towards other people and the world. So the best you can do is to help them practice optimism and meditation is of rescue. Practicing meditation daily will help them cultivate compassion, increased self esteem, empathy and sympathy towards others and most importantly, an optimistic behavior. Spend few hours with your child preaching them good habits and it will do its job for the rest of the day.
Keeps them happy
Mindfulness meditation helps your child live in the present and be happy with the present moment. It will help them gain self-awareness and become more confident as a person later. The confidence that develops naturally during their childhood is so strong that they will have in abundance as they grow. What kids learn from their meditation practice is that they do not have to respond to all their emotions and thoughts. They will have the wisdom to select those that would merit their response and attention.