Life is not short on adversity. At every development stage, people face challenges. Infants struggle with hunger and sleepiness with no means of effective communication. Toddlers contend with self-control issues and language barriers. Adolescents fight with rules and restrictions. Finally, teens navigate developing relationships and social structures.
Learning to cope with emotional struggles and upheavals is a necessary part of life. Yet, it does not have to be so difficult. Children can combat anxiety and promote happiness through formative years with mindfulness and meditation.
Teaching Your Kids Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a skill; thus, it requires learning. A child learns through observation and practice. As a parent, your job is to model appropriate behavior and teach your children how to manage emotions.
While mindfulness is a sound practice, it is not straightforward, especially for youngsters. Toddlers do not have the emotional vocabulary to express spontaneous feelings. Additionally, they may not have the language skills necessary to describe the senses.
For toddlers, it is more prudent to show mindfulness through examples. For instance, explain how specific situations make you feel. Also, show them how you manage your emotions when angry or scared.
While toddlers and young children may not have an adequate vocabulary, they can mimic you. A simple mindfulness practice you can teach your child is 4-6-8 breathing. The timing of the exercise may need adjustments, but it is a straightforward exercise. The steps include:
- Breathe in as you count to four Mississippi
- Hold your breath for six Mississippi
- Exhale for eight Mississippi
- Repeat as necessary
The extended exhale reassures the body and brain that everything is Ok. Breathing exercises are crucial to mindfulness, as is the observation of the present.
The Benefits of Meditation for Kids
Many people do not begin or learn the benefits of meditation until adulthood. Despite the commonness of late-stage learning, meditation is beneficial for all people, regardless of age.
The practice of mindfulness and meditation improves emotional control and self-awareness. The skills learned through meditation can help youngsters manage years of raging hormones. Additionally, meditation can improve self-esteem and confidence. There are many other advantages to meditation for children and teenagers, including:
- Prolonged attention spans
- Improved focus
- Reduced anxiety and stress
- Improved sleep
- Stronger mental resilience
- Increase empathy and self-awareness
- Improved emotional regulation
The Basics of Meditation for Kids
When teaching children meditation, focus on two fundamentals: comfort and focus. Meditation requires calm and relaxation. Most children rage against calm, choosing to wiggle and fidget instead.
To get your child in the right frame of mind for meditation, it is best to begin with an activity to burn excess energy. You can have a short dance party, one minute or less, or jog in place.
With energy dissipated, find a nice comfortable place to begin the meditation exercise. You and your child want to sit or lay in a comfortable position. The position will not be the same for everyone.
After getting into position, it is time to focus. Help your child focus by using breathing, story, or body sensations exercises. Each activity requires the child to focus on their senses, pulling them into the present.
Meditation sessions do not have to be long. When starting, it is enough to practice for five minutes. You may eventually increase the time to 10 or 15 minutes.
Tips on Staying Consistent with Kids' Meditation Practice
As with any new habit, consistency is key. Several ways to maintain consistency with meditation include:
- Practicing at the same time
- Using the same place
- Dressing the same
The goal is to help your child associate a time, place, and even style with relaxation. While it might take time, repetition will form a habit.
For children to thrive in this world, they need mental and physical fortitude. Meditation and mindfulness encourage mental health, and a balanced diet supports physical health.