Do you know the different types of meditation for kids, their benefits, and how to teach them?
If not, this article is for you.
Childhood and teenage years are foundational in our development as human beings. It is when our personalities are formed, our view of the world developed, and our ways of relating to others and to ourselves established.
The skills and tools we learn in our early years have a huge impact on the rest of our lives—and that is why meditation is such a great gift to give to a child. Meditating children will have an unfair advantage over other kids.
I started meditating when I was just 14—and this practice gave me many things in my life. I am grateful that I came to meditation at such an early age, and I know that many other kids and teenagers would also greatly benefit from it. So on this page I explore why kids should do meditation, how to teach them, and the different types of meditation for kids. If you are a parent, or you work with kids or teenagers, this article is for you!
If we were able to harness mindfulness and meditation from an early age, what would the world look like? Here’s why we need to have our kids adopt a regular meditation practice, and how instead of painstaking practices like detention, being in the present moment through meditation achieves more value for our kids (and us) in the long run.
If You Had A Time Machine, Go Back And Meditate As A Kid
Do you currently enjoy the benefits of meditation and wish you had started earlier in life, say, as a kid?
Do you have a child or teenager that is overly stressed from the increasingly hectic demands of modern-day society?
Is your child having trouble focusing on his/her schoolwork? Or having self-esteem issues?
As kids, we’ve all been there. And as parents, guardians, or teachers, we can address common issues faced by kids by simply introducing them to meditation.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- Why teaching kids meditation is easier than we think it is
- The 5 benefits of teaching kids meditation
- Meditation tips and techniques for kids
- The top 10 (free) guided meditations online to help kids ease their way into a daily meditation practice
- The top 10 meditation music tracks to enhance your kid’s meditation
Teaching Kids Meditation Is Easier Than We Think
Have you ever watched a toddler eat their food? Before they take a bite of it, they thoroughly examine it — they smell it, take it apart, poke it with their fingers, bite it and spit it out.
Children naturally exercise mindfulness — a key component of meditation — because they have less mental barriers, biases, and per-determined beliefs that allows them to experience a pure state of mindfulness.
In contrast, as adults we believe it takes practice and effort to meditate or to achieve mindfulness because we need to consciously rid ourselves of pee-conceived thoughts, fears, and beliefs that inhibit our natural state of awareness.
It may seem odd to think of children as calm, nonjudgmental, and mindful, but ultimately, children can achieve mindfulness and thereby practice meditation more easily than adults can.
So it’s safe to say that incorporating meditation into a child’s learning process is easier than we think, and schools across the U.S. have begun adding meditation to their curriculum with positive results.
Recently a Baltimore school replaced detention (a conventional way of punishing misbehaving kids by having them sit in silence in a classroom for 1 hour or more) with a more progressive form of behavioral evaluation: meditation.
Instead of the painstaking, and in most cases, the unhelpful process of detention, teaching kids to focus on their breath and being in the present moment achieves more value in the long run.
Even better, teaching kids outside of detention by regularly implementing it as part of school programs or at home may help kids avoid the very reasons that landed them in detention in the first place.
Although research on how meditation affects and benefits kids is not quite as robust and thorough as it is for adults, it’s certainly starting to take off.
Below are some of benefits that research tells us mediation and mindfulness can offer kids.
The 5 Benefits of Meditation for Children
The mind of the child is constantly observing, questioning, discovering and building assumptions.
Meditation can help kids tune into this process and assist them with learning emotional regulation and achieving cognitive growth.
While meditation provides adults numerous benefits such as less stress and better decision-making skills, children get a different set of perks from this practice.
Let’s look at the top five benefits of meditation for children and why you should introduce kids to a simple daily meditation practice as soon as possible.
1. Meditation Enhances Focus
Noticed how kids are drawn to gadgets, social media, and technology more than we ever were in our youth?
Modern-day demands increasingly challenge us to think and respond more quickly than ever before — and kids are no exception.
Constant stimulation during kids’ waking hours — from the internet, video games, social media, school assignments — demands them to multitask and jump from thought to thought.
While multitasking and juggling many different physical, mental, emotional and social tasks or activities at once may sometimes be a good thing, no doubt:
You want your child to turn their attention completely to one thing at a time…
You want your child to be able to solve complex problems and see projects through to its completion…
You want your child to have the capacity to focus.
A study, by Italian neuroscientist Giuseppe Patagonia, found that meditation not only changes brain patterns, but it also heightens mental focus that may improve cognitive performance.
In the study, brain scans showed that compared to those who meditate, non-mediators had higher activity in their ventral postmeridian cortex, the region of the brain linked to spontaneous thoughts and mind-wandering.
So the next time your child needs a little boost in focus and clarity, look no further than a simple meditation to function with lazier focus more effectively.
2. Meditation Fosters Self-Esteem And Self-Love
Most of us as kids, at one time another, felt like we are not “good enough.”
Childhood, especially during puberty, can be tough, and in a lot of cases, debilitating on our self-esteem and confidence.
Naturally most of our present insecurities may have stemmed from childhood:
An embarrassing situation that haunted you…
Not being the “cool kid” at school…
Not having “that” car…
Being bullied — any childhood situation that imprinted trauma or any negative belief about yourself.
Thankfully meditation provides access to a greater feeling of inner stability and security.
As a practice to quiet your mind, meditation slows down the mind’s activity (self-talk and obsessive thinking) to experience relaxation, inner peace, self-love, and joy.
When you learn to focus on the moment, your fears, self-doubt, and insecurities are transformed.
3. Meditation Relieves Stress For Peak Performance
Stress can begin to impact children at a very young age, and stressful situations affect health and well-being almost immediately.
Demands from academic studies, competition, and always having to “do things right” plays a huge toll on kids’ ability to relax.
Bluntly put, too much stress inhibits peak performance.
Like adults, meditation can help children cope with stresses and traumas by being mindful about present situations and thinking clearly and rationally about them.
When the mind is calm, the body follows.
When the mind is free of tension, it will function at its peak.
Since meditation is known to help kids focus their energies and reduce tensions, overwhelming evidence suggests that it can help them perform better in school. In fact, meditation can have a profound impact on not only academics, but also athletic, creative and social performance.
A University of California, Los Angeles study found that second and third-graders who practiced “mindful” meditation techniques for 30 minutes twice a week for eight weeks had improved behavior and scored higher on tests requiring memory, attention and focus than the non-mediators.
More and more schools are incorporating meditation in their learning programs, and it’s only a matter of time that meditation becomes a norm for education programs.
4. Meditation Supports Healthy Emotional Development
In our fast paced lifestyle, children are having to face even more “fears” than ever before.
Fears of not being accepted, fears of too much change, fears of losing loved ones, or simply fears of not being “enough.”
We want kids to be able to navigate through phases of insecurity, frustration, and impatience without too much distress.
But prolonged fear-based stress on a child’s emotional development can be debilitating and have long-term repercussion.
Thankfully, meditation allows children to access their natural rhythm of self-awareness and mindfulness — two key components of self-soothing, problem-solving, patience, and facing fears.
By teaching meditation to children, you can help them become aware of this natural state and consequently help them to overcome any obstructive, negative emotions.
5. Meditation Enhances Empathy And Contentedness
It’s commonly known that meditation increases compassion — empathy and compassion directly stems from the awareness state of mind, a distinct outcome of mindfulness meditation.
But there’s now tangible, scientific evidence of how mindfulness meditation increases kindness, compassion, and connectivity among adults and children alike.
In a study at Northeastern University, researchers found that “meditation made people willing to act virtuous — to help another who are suffering — even in the face of a norm not to do so.”
Researchers are uncertain of exactly why meditation heightens empathy and contentedness, but there are two possible reasons.
First, meditation improves children’s attention-span and their ability to focus on specific things in their environment.
Second, meditation creates neural pathways that allows children to see the interconnections of human suffering regardless of their relationships. Regular loving-kindness or mindful meditation builds self-love, compassion, and human or environmental connection on multiple levels.
We all want happy, healthy lives for our children. Teaching kids how to meditate can give them a jump start to accessing the many benefits of meditation. Even though today’s kids exhibit elevated levels of restlessness, stress and anxiety, only 1.6% of children in the U.S. meditate. Yet several studies suggest that kids who practice mindfulness tend to develop positive traits such as increased self-control, better attentiveness in class, and more empathy and respect for others. In addition, meditation may help children manage challenging conditions such as stress, depression, ADHD and hyperactivity.
Clearly, introducing kids to mindfulness can benefit them now and in the long run. But children should never be forced to meditate, or they may develop the same aversion towards sitting that they often have towards certain cooked vegetables (!). They should be given the same gentle encouragement that we give ourselves when it comes to meditation practice.