Sunday, May 16, 2010

Meditation for Kids

There are many benefits associated with meditation and recently this group of relaxing techniques has been touted as a wonder-therapy for kids with ADHD. however when you have kids, any amount of time spent in silence seems to be just a myth. Exposing children, even young ones, to the beauty of silence helps them relax their minds & bodies and also prevents over stimulation. There are hundreds of ways to introduce children to meditation; here are a few tips and suggestions to help you find what works for you and your little one.

  • Meditation shouldn't be a punishment or a chore. Do not pressure children to mediate; let them gravitate to it on their own. Not everyone will be moved to meditation and no one should be forced if they are not ready; it defeats the purpose. So, make sure you introduce meditation in a positive way, and present a variety of options so the child understands that your not simply looking for a few minutes of quiet.
  • Don't over do it. The general rule is 1 minute of silence for every year of life. So don't stress yourself trying to get your two year old to sit still for an hour. Begin by using the meditation as a warm up or cool down to other activities and do not overwhelm young ones with too much explanation or complexity.
  • Start out as something you do together. Avoid making it a competition. It's not about who can be quiet the longest. Instead use the time to bond. Whether its just quiet time, or you introduce stretching, walking, or yoga; Let this be time where it's you and your child; no phone, no TV, no visitors. Soon your child will look forward to having uninterrupted time with you.

For Ages Birth - 1
As you can probably imagine, this really isn't meditation. Its basically carving out a time where you and your child sit quietly. No TV, no music, no distractions. Maybe just rocking them gently while deep breathing or humming a soft lullaby.

For Ages 1-4
Once children are mobile and on the move, it's harder to get them to sit quietly. If introducing them at this stage, use meditation as a opening act for something else. Example, go for a short walk and say, "Before we go for our walk we need to get ready." Then help your child sit on the floor and do simple stretches and breathing. After your walk, have the child repeat the stretching and breathing exercises.

For Ages 5-7
Start with guided meditations that will allow you to develop something that is more like story telling and gradually get them to a place where they are guided by their own thoughts and imaginations. Have them visualize walking on a beach and watching the waves, or sitting in the grass watching the flowers sway in the breeze.

For Ages 7-10
At this age, you can begin to introduce self-reflection. Begin with a guided meditation and then ask simple questions like, "Did something upset you today?" or "What can you do to be a better friend/student/brother?". No answers are needed aloud. This is a time for the child to look inward and have some self-reflection and you will be teaching them to ask these kinds of questions of themselves.

Note: It is important that both you and the children are dressed comfortably - preferably sweats/shorts and a t-shirt - and to not be hungry, tired or sleepy. You and your child shouldn't be distracted by an itchy sock or a grumbling belly. Also note that you do not need any special mood-setting paraphernalia like candles, music or special aromas. All you need is space and quiet.

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