By Molly Crockett
Now more than ever, schools are encouraging the idea of children practicing mindfulness. Recent studies show that children who achieve mindfulness are more likely to pay more attention in class, respect others, have self-control, and have empathy.
But with only 1.6 percent of U.S. children meditating, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, we need to help the rest of the child population fend off negative thoughts and behaviors, build self-confidence, and have respect and appreciation for other people and the world.
The good news is, you don’t have to leave it to your child’s school to teach them meditation. In fact, here are five simple ways to teach meditation to your children.
- The “Peaceful Piggy” Meditation
“Children from ages 3 to 7 love to listen to stories,” says Jayden Wormald, a lifestyle blogger at Essay roo and State of writing. “There’s a book called The Peaceful Piggy Meditation, which you can read to children, during your meditation session. As you read through the story, children will mimic how the little piggies do things in the book, including meditation. This practice helps kids to understand emotions, and helps them keep calm, as they go through the session.”
- The “Balloon” Meditation
Children can do this exercise either standing or seated. Here’s how to do the balloon meditation:
- Relax the body, and take deep inhales and slow exhales through the nose.
- Slowly inhale deeply to fill the belly up with air, as if you’re preparing to blow up a big balloon.
- Slowly let the air out of the “balloon” (through the nose).
- Continue for several minutes.
With younger children, maybe ask them what their favorite color is, and have them visualize a giant balloon of that color in mind. Have them inhale deeply, and then blow into the “balloon.” And, if you want, have them “pop the balloon” by them poking their belly when they exhale.
- “Bear” Breathing
Teaching the correct way to breathe is imperative for children.
Now, the bear breath involves counting, as you breathe in and out. You breathe in through the nose for four counts, hold it for four counts, and slowly exhale through the nose for four counts. This breathing lets more oxygen get to the brain, and reduces stress in people, including children.
- “Follow The Leader” Activity
In this activity, ask your child to picture either their sibling or their best friend. Then, ask them who is considered the leader between them two – the person who either does most of the talking, or calls most of the shots. Consider these two outcomes:
- If your child is the leader out of the two, then they are the breath.
- If they are the follower, then they are the mind.
Next, start the scenario by saying something like, “You and your friend do everything together. Now, let’s pretend that your breath and your mind are best friends, too. For now, your friend is the breath – the leader – and you’re with the rest of the group – the follower.”
Once you set up the scenario, follow these steps below to guide them through the meditation:
- Sit down and close your eyes.
- Pay attention to your breath and slow it down, deeply inhaling and slowly exhaling.
- The mind will follow the breath—no matter what. Focus your mind on breathing, and follow as you inhale and exhale.
- Count your breaths at the end of each exhale, not before it. Stay focused on the breath.
- Count to 10 slowly, always at the end of each exhale.
- “I’m Happy, Healthy, And Whole” Affirmation
“Affirmations are important, when ending the meditation session with children,” says Elijah Sands, a spiritual writer at Australian help and Paper fellows. “Kids should imagine creating their protective bubble around themselves, and then say ‘From my head to my toes, I’m happy, healthy, and whole.’ This helps them be more relaxed at the end.”
Another way to exhibit this affirmation is if you, the parent, practice this. Children tend to model the behaviors of their parents and or other adults. Therefore, if you practice personal mindfulness and meditation, then your children will most likely do the same.
These great tips will help you get the ball rolling, as you and your family meditate together. Soon, you’ll see that meditation is beneficial for children, since it promotes mindfulness and balance in their lives.
Molly Crockett writes amazing articles for Ukwritings and Boomessays. In her spare time, she is an online writing consultant for Academized. As a marketing writer, she shares her unique lifestyle tips and personal development advice with her audience.