Many of us love meditation for the mental wellness it brings and the chance it offers to unwind and recenter our minds and bodies. But are kids too young to meditate? Let’s break down this complex topic below.
Wait a Second – Isn’t Meditation Just for Stressed Adults?
Not at all! As adults, we meditate primarily to relax the mind and de-stress at the end of a long day. Meditation also provides relief from the physical discomfort of clenching our muscles or maintaining unhealthy postures. Yet meditation is more than just relief – it also teaches your mind to be in a state that can help promote holistic wellness.
Many of meditation’s benefits – including relaxation, mindfulness, and a sense of purpose – can also be enjoyed by kids. No matter the age, kids, especially younger ones, can benefit from a calming environment or routine in their otherwise hectic lives.
Along with taking healthy vitamins and getting plenty of exercise, kids can benefit from meditation to help them grow up to be strong, focused, and resilient.
How Young is Too Young for Meditation?
Of course, there’s a limit to meditation for kids. Particularly young kids around age 2 or 3 will be difficult, if not impossible, to get to sit still. Don’t worry too much about this point, as it’s normal for kids to be fidgety and constantly explore their environment. Instead, focus on the introduction of meditation as a concept that your kids will benefit from as they get older. Most importantly, don’t try to force meditation on any child. Just like adults, some children will take to meditation and its relaxing routines more easily than others. Other kids might be more physical or energetic naturally – and that’s fine!
Yet it never hurts to introduce meditation to see if your child might appreciate or enjoy its benefits.
Benefits of Meditation for Kids
Kids can benefit from meditation just as much as adults. In fact, UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center found that mindfulness teachings imparted by meditation had tangible benefits for preschoolers.
- The study found that mindfulness could help boost children’s memory and their ability to organize or plan for the future;
- Meditation can help limit worries or fears. Many parents believe that their kids are relatively carefree, yet it’s common for children to worry and feel anxiety – they might just have trouble expressing it. Meditation can help them calm down and deal with these fears in healthy ways;
- For teenagers, meditation can have tangible benefits since adolescence is a traditionally stressful time. For instance, meditation can help teenagers build self-confidence, strengthen their self-acceptance, manage stress, and balance any conflicting emotions. In other words, meditation can help teenagers almost the same way adults.
All this is to say that introducing meditation to your kids might be a great idea.
How to Help Your Kids Meditate
Of course, getting your kids to actually sit down and meditate for any amount of time could be a huge challenge. Just remember that kids meditate differently or are better candidates for different types of meditation based on their age.
Toddlers, for instance, don't have the same patience or attention span as older kids, so your approach to meditation should be a little different.
Here are a few ideas broken down into age brackets.
Since toddlers are still learning the basics of life, teaching them meditation is more like teaching them about “calm motion.”
Lorraine Murray, the author of Calm Kids: Help Children Relax with Mindful Activities, recommends that you try to discuss happy things with your toddler and have them relax and chat with you about calming, soothing ideas.
Feel free to let them fidget, or even watch you while you do more advanced meditation. The idea is to get them used to soothing and quiet time.
Preschoolers, or kids who are around age 3 or 4, can take advantage of more advanced meditation techniques. For instance, try to teach your kids to lie down in a relaxing posture or meditative pose.
It’s often easier to teach your toddler meditation if it’s a regular part of their routine. Say, for instance, as part of your routine that you have them take a kids multivitamin after breakfast each day. Incorporate meditation into their routine right after. This teaches them to expect meditation and makes the new experience less overwhelming.
More importantly, you can start teaching your preschooler about different parts of their body, directing their focus to consider how each part of their body feels during a meditation session. Again, this is more about calming your child and getting them used to meditation as a concept.
Older kids, between 5 and 12, can participate in mild forms of meditation, and even meditate with you to some extent.
Feel free to let your kids flow in and out of meditation when necessary. Many kids at this age are still quite energetic and may not feel comfortable with sitting still for long periods. Remember to emphasize thinking about calming, soothing thoughts, and being aware of the body more than teaching them certain poses.
As your kids become teenagers, you can introduce them to more advanced meditation concepts and even certain poses. If you’ve done this for a few years, your child may even want to join you for your adult meditation sessions!
Adults will always be the primary practitioners of meditation, yet kids may be able to benefit from certain meditative concepts or routines. Feel free to gradually introduce meditation into their lives to see if they appreciate it.
We all want the best for our kids, so be sure to make sure that yours are getting plenty of nutrients and exercise in addition to meditation and mental stimulation.