Today’s kids lead extremely hectic lifestyles. Their days are filled with school, family and social obligations, sensory overload, and internal and external pressures. This can lead to a surplus of hard-to-handle situations that culminate in conditions such as stress, depression and Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD). Guided meditations for children help kids develop focus and handle their emotions more skillfully.
If you’re wondering whether children’s meditation will help make your kids’ childhood years calmer and happier, ask yourself if meditation is a beneficial and important part of your life. Wouldn’t it be great if you’d discovered it earlier? The same goes for your kids – introduce them to sitting and see what happens. Children’s meditation is primarily focused on consciously exploring the senses, developing focus, and discovering the calm within. Think of children’s meditation as a tool for building self-awareness, confidence and self-esteem.
Studies on guided meditation for children
A study conducted by researchers in British Columbia found that a mindfulness-based school program for upper-elementary school children demonstrated that “giving children mindfulness attention training in combination with opportunities to practice optimism, gratitude, perspective-taking, and kindness to others can not only improve cognitive skills but also lead to significant increases in social and emotional competence and well-being in the real-world setting of regular elementary classrooms.”
In another study, experts from the University of California Los Angeles worked with second and third graders. They measured the impact of 30-minute student meditation sessions conducted twice a week during eight weeks. The results were remarkable: the kids who meditated obtained significantly higher grades on tests that required attention, memory and focus. Their behavior also clearly improved.
A similar study conducted in the San Francisco Unified School District followed 3,000+ children enrolled in a transcendental meditation program aimed at promoting relaxation and insights. The results were equally convincing: kids’ math test scores improved dramatically, as did their overall academic performance. There were also fewer expulsions, suspensions and dropouts.
Meditation for toddlers
What about toddlers? Can they meditate too? Hmmm… sounds like a trick question. But what we have observed time and again is that toddlers can join their parents, teachers or caregivers and sit quietly with them for a few minutes of mindful quiet time. Led by an adult, they can learn breathing techniques that include the famous “breathe deeply three times before I react” method. Meditation can help toddlers begin to recognize and manage their emotions. Of course, getting kids to sit still and be serenely quiet is a huge accomplishment (ask any parent!). That’s why it’s important to keep these sessions agreeably short and to complement them with some exchange time or tie in with a story.
Benefits of children’s meditation
- Enhanced focus
For kids held in the thrall of social media, video games, the internet and other modern technologies, multitasking is the norm. Like grown-ups, kids have to juggle activities that are mentally, physically and emotionally draining. Meditation gives children a little bit of technology-free space and teaches them to focus, making it easier and more pleasant for them to address problems and complete projects.
- Healthy emotional development and self-esteem
Children live in a competitive world these days. They learn to have dreams, ambitions and aspirations from a very tender age. In school, kids deemed as “have-nots” are bullied and laughed at. Consequently, some kids experience trauma that slowly develops into negative emotions such as depression. Guided meditation for children brings out positive feelings of security and inner stability among kids. They also develop self-love, joy and inner peace.
- Supporting healthy emotional development
Guided meditation for children brings out positive feelings of security and inner stability. Mindful kids also develop self-esteem, joy and inner peace – qualities that naturally lead to empathy and compassion in their interactions with others. But even the most idyllic childhood has its share of fears, loss and insecurities; working through them is part of growing up. By helping children discover that their emotions come and go like stormy weather and aren’t anything to be afraid of, mindfulness meditation gives kids tools to use when life isn’t a bowl of cherries.
- Better performance and relief of stress
Today’s kids are faced with stressful and challenging situations that can affect their physical health and general well-being. Between our competitive society, demands for better grades, the allure and availability of drugs and the need for a supportive social network, there are all sorts of issues that can take a toll on children and inhibit performance. Luckily, guided meditation for kids helps them manage tensions and focus their energy on the things that matter most. Kids who have confidence in their ability to handle themselves in a wide variety of situations are happier, perform better in class and thrive socially as well.
Introduce the kids in your life to meditation so they can enjoy the many benefits of mindfulness practice. Children learn best by example, so by far genuinely practicing meditation yourself is the best example you can set for your children. They will learn by osmosis.