Meditating with my 4-year-old has become one of my most favorite parts of my day. Confession: Meditating does not look like it does in that picture at my house. We are always lying down! It has become a great way to make special time for him and just be. Besides, it is the cutest thing to lay with your son and to have him ask, “wait, which one is my left hand”, in reference to “squeeze your left hand” as spoken from the meditation. I have learned a few things along the way and thought I would share to help you teach your child to meditate. But let me give you some background.
As a therapist, I know the importance of deep diaphragmatic breathing, meditation and practicing mindfulness. I see how these skills work for clients and for myself. It is a coping tool for anxiety, depression, learning to stay calm, dealing with anger, stress management and so much more. I started practicing both mindfulness and meditation much more when I began my own self-care journey. There are a handful of life changes that I have made that have significantly helped me remain sane while in the trenches of raising 2 young active boys. Mindfulness and meditation are two of them.
When my son was about 2 or 3, we began working on our deep breathing. You can read about that here and learn how to teach your kids. But let me share this, when you are dealing with temper tantrums, teaching your child to help calm themselves down with your assistance does wonders. Because when they stop screaming, you will learn they really wanted the blue cup and not the red (silly parent, you should have known). Although that is another blog post on dealing with that behavior. Anyways, practicing deep breathing is essential. Just ask Daniel Tiger , Mr. Rogers and Elmo.
On my own self-care journey, I began taking time for myself to meditate while my younger son napped and my oldest would have quiet time. I would go in my room and listen to a meditation. Often my older son would come in to see what I was doing and this began his interest in mediating. A body scan is something he would begin doing with me. Most recently, he has asked that I meditate with him at night. There are some children apps for meditating, however we just use the ones I have on my phone. The apps explain what to do for the meditation and it is age appropriate. When he meditates at night, chances are he falls asleep during it.
Why I teach my son meditation.
Kids already practice mindfulness, meaning being fully present. It is us adults that help them unlearn this skill (hurry up, we are going to be late)! In various ways, I intentionally practice mindfulness everyday with my kids because I can see how I make them push past this skill in our everyday life. I did not love this about me, as I saw it was having an impact. I knew I need to take a step back and really work on leading a less stressful life. As a way to help me be a calmer person, I began to meditate. I think this concept applies to my kids as well. It is a way for us all to be calmer. My main reason for doing it is because my oldest one enjoys it. My younger ones does not like to do it, so I do not make him. Although, as he gets a little older, I hope that he will begin practicing. I know that there are lots of benefits of meditating and I think it is important to help my son learn to listen to his body, feel his emotions and have another outlet to just be. He may not need this skill now, but it will be useful to him in the future, so why not?
Ways to teach your kids to meditate:
- Model. Start a practice yourself. There are lots of health benefits. I am not where I would like to be in my own meditation practice, but I am doing it daily and feel the positive impact of it. You only really need a few minute to begin.
- Practice deep breathing with your kids. Here is a link of a previous post about teaching it.
- Schedule a time to do it. Start your day that way or end it with a meditation.
- I am a huge fan of apps on your phones for practicing a meditation. However, if you do not have a smart phone, you can buy a CD or even just go to youtube. Don’t want to buy one, try focusing on your breathe in silence.
- Try different meditations. Your child may like different ones as well. My oldest has figured out he likes ones that “tell you what to do, with rain in the background”.
This meditation is one to do with kids from the Greater Good at Berkley. You can find more information on meditating with kids here and here.
This post is for informational and educational purposes only.