There are plenty of benefits to teaching children how to meditate. They’ll learn balance, find their inner peace, build self-confidence, self-control, respect their classmates and friends, develop empathy, and focus better during classes. Some schools have begun to teach meditation to children for the benefits it offers. If you’re wondering how to teach meditation to children, we gathered useful information that can help you to initiate your kid in yoga in a fun and relaxing way.
When you can start meditation with children
You can start a meditation program for your child from the age of 3 years old. For preschool children, it’s best to start a few minutes a day. For grade school children, you can practice 3-10 minutes twice a day, and for teens, you can meditate for 5-45 minutes per day, depending on their focus and interest.
You have to start with easy exercises that will make the learning process easy and fun; we’ll discuss more different types of meditation that are suitable for every age category, later in this article.
It’s essential to be patient during this teaching process of meditation and find the right way to keep your child still. Experts state that, with the right approach, you can successfully make your energetic child stay quiet and practice meditation correctly. With continued practice and exercise, your child will learn to be more mindful and be connected with their feelings and thoughts. Let’s see how to teach meditation to children and find out exciting methods that you can apply.
How to teach meditation to children
Here’s 3 simple practices you can try and implement. Feel free to adjust each practice as you see fit. Make them work for you, be creative, and remember to have fun! If you need something simpler, consider starting with a mindfulness activity for kids.
1. Teach your child how to focus on their breath
When you’re learning how to teach meditation to children, the most critical initial step is to teach your child to focus on slowing down the breath. Breath is essential in meditation, and by showing your child the tools of a deep breath, you will allow him or her to create space in their mind for calm.
To start, you can teach him or her deep breathing during your regular bedtime routine to help him or her relax before sleep. You can follow these steps for this breathing exercise that will show you how to teach meditation to children:
- Take a deep breath through the nose, and on the exhale, say aloud “three.”
- Take another deep breath through the nose, and when you exhale, say “two.”
- With the final breath, say “one” and repeat the exercise.
Perform this exercise together and relax after the three breaths then repeat it if you desire. It’s necessary to pay attention to your child and don’t force him or her to do it if they don’t feel comfortable. Be patient and help them learn the benefits of meditation. Start slowly and, in time, try to repeat this exercise up to four more times. This exercise is best for younger kids, starting with the age of 3 years old.
If it helps, use their favorite toy or cartoon hero to guide this breathing exercise. You can put on a funny voice or even a costume if it helps get your child excited about the process. Be creative!
Another great exercise that you can try with kids age 5 or more, to help them focus on their breath, is called “the elevator”:
- The practice asks for you and your child to imagine an elevator going down three floors.
- First, imagine the elevator is inside your body.
- The top floor is from your head to your chest. The next level is from your chest to your stomach. The last floor from your stomach to your seat.
- For the first breath, you will imagine the elevator going down from the head, and during the exhale process will get to your chest. When it reaches your chest, say “three.”
- Pause for an inhale.
- Repeat the process for the next exhale, and imagine the elevator going down to the next floor until it reaches your stomach. Say, “two.”
- Pause for inhaling.
- Then exhale while imagining the elevator going down to the last floor, where it will reach your seat area. Say “one.”
To make the practice more enjoyable and exciting for your child, you can make fun elevator sound effects as you both imagine the elevator going down or up. Add details to the elevator. Ask your child what the elevator looks like. What it sounds like. What it feels like.
2. Use imagination in the meditation exercises
The key to making your child engaged in meditation is to teach him how to have fun with it. Children love stories and visualizations, so you must include those in the meditation exercise for good results. Experts think that this is one of the best approaches when you’re first learning how to teach meditation to children.
You can read him or her a favorite story before the meditation exercise and then add the main character in practice. You can even choose a children’s book on the topic, such as The Peaceful Piggy Meditation, and read it to them at night. Afterward, sit up and pretend you are meditating like the little piggies from the story.
You can also imagine some fun elements they love. For example, you can try the balloon exercise:
- Ask your child to imagine a giant balloon in his or her favorite color.
- Afterward, ask them to imagine they take a deep inhale through the nose, filling their tummy with air as if trying to blow up the balloon.
- When the balloon is fully inflated with air, they will hold their breath at the top, and then you can pop up the balloon by putting your finger to their tummy, and he or she can fall as he exhales.
- This is an entertaining exercise that kids will love practicing. You can apply it for kids ages 3-5 years old.
For kids age 5 or more, you can include real-life persons in the meditation practice. Let’s take an example of how to teach meditation to children:
- Find a person that they look up at as a leader. It can be his or her grandma, best friend, or their big brother. You can let them choose the person he or she wants to imagine. Let’s use the best friend as an example.
- Ask him or her to imagine that their breaths and minds are best friends, too.
- His or her mind will be them, the follower, and their breath will be the leader as their best friend.
- Sit down together and close your eyes.
- Bring all the attention to the breath and slow it down.
- Take deep inhales and slow exhales.
- The mind must follow the breath.
- Now have them picture themself as the breath, following their best friend, the mind.
- Count the breaths at the end of every exhale. The mind will want to jump ahead and count before the end of the exhale, but don’t let it. Remain focused on being the follower.
- Count to ten slowly at the end of each exhale, allowing the mind to follow the breath.
This is a terrific exercise that will teach self-control and focus on the breath. It is an excellent example of how to teach meditation to children.
3. Incorporate nature elements in the meditation exercises
Another great type of meditation to try is to use nature in meditation exercises to make them easier to understand and practice. Let’s see an example:
- You can compare their feelings with the weather forecast.
- Sit both comfortable in a quiet place.
- Close the eyes and ask them to think about how they feel.
- You can ask several helpful questions, such as: How is the weather inside you? You feel relaxed like a sunny day? Or you feel like it’s raining? What do you observe?
After your child tells you how they feel, advise them to accept their feelings and not try to change them. Explain to them that later their internal weather forecast will be OK, but for the moment, they must accept this state. Emotions change frequently, and negative thoughts will go away.
This exercise will help them understand their current mood, accept it, and trust that it will get better.
You can also train his or her attention by including natural elements, making it more engaging. Let’s see another example of how to teach meditation to children:
- You can ask them, on the morning route to kindergarten or school, to notice and remember five things from nature. It can be a tree, an impressive flower, or a bird in the sky.
- Tell them to remember the distinctive characteristics of these things, such as the color, form, stripes.
- Ask them questions about the elements they chose and details about them.
- This exercise will help them to discover how to experiment with reality without interference and pay more attention to their environment.
- Attention is an integral part of meditation. Most people, even children, can get caught up in their thinking and feelings. This practice asks them to simply pay more attention during their usual routines.
Be patient with the learning meditation process
It’s challenging for a parent to keep their child still during meditation, but with patience, and finding the right methods for your child, you will manage to engage them in this activity.
If you’re interested in how to teach meditation to children, you’ll find many kinds of meditation to start with, but you should test and see which ones work best for your child and teaching style. You can check the methods we presented you above and craft them according to your kid’s favorite things, story characters, and interests.
It’s essential not to set a definite goal when you start meditation with your child. Enjoy the process, observe them, and try to make it as fun as it can be, helping him or her to enjoy the process. This is also something that benefits you and your relationship with your child. It’s where you can begin to learn a lot about them and further strengthen your bond with them.
It’s also important to pay attention to him or her and find ways to attract your child to meditation. For example, if they seem to be restless and have difficulties sitting down, you can choose their favorite cushion and let them stand on it. This choice will make the environment friendly and encourage them to stay comfortably.
Meditation brings several benefits both for the child and the parent. See these exercises as valuable experiences for both of you and enjoy this time spent together. Perform the meditation exercises together and, as you teach him, follow the instructions and try to relax as well. Make it a daily habit, an opportunity for both of you to unwind and relax after a long day. It can be challenging at first, but with exercise and practice, both of you will learn to calm down and control the mind and breathe, enjoying pleasant moments together.