Studies show that kids in this generation are more stressed than before. The reason being the presence of abundant technology around them that stimulates their senses- mobile phones, gaming and computers etc. Also because of the Covid pandemic, children are more under stress and anxiety and many experts have put out their advice on it. You can read how to cope with stress in one of our blogs on children’s mental health after the pandemic. Practising mindfulness was one of the solutions. Meditation is found to be effective and helpful for children who are going through mental health issues. Teaching your kids to take care of their minds is as important as teaching them to look after their bodies.
Since ancient times, meditation has been practised and found to be beneficial for body, mind, health, and overall well-being. Meditation is used for calming the mind, body and spirit and gives a lot of benefits. Mindfulness meditation especially helps in the prevention of diseases and treatment. Mindfulness meditation is about paying attention to what is happening in the present moment.
Benefits of Meditation for Kids
1) Physical Benefits
The main physical benefit is that it calms the nervous system and decreases stress hormones and boosts sound sleep which is very much required for body recovery. Studies have shown benefits for gastrointestinal symptoms, obesity, headaches etc. and improvement of body immunity as well.
2) Psychological Benefits
Meditation will help children focus on things they do. Their memory will also improve and lead to better performance at school. Studies have shown benefits for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, behaviour problems and eating disorders.
3) Emotional Benefits
They will be more balanced emotionally and overall have a positive outlook towards their life. They will tend to be aware of their surroundings and appreciate them more. They will be more caring and appreciative of people or things around them. It will lead to high emotional intelligence (EQ) and help them reduce their stress and anxiety, help them communicate better, empathise with others and overcome life challenges.
Meditation techniques for kids.
1)The Balloon Technique
This is a breathing technique that will be helpful for releasing stress. Make your kids imagine a balloon inside their tummy and ask them to inhale deeply and fill the imagined balloon. Make them hold their breath for three counts and then exhale through the nose slowly. To make it more interesting and help visualise better for younger children, make hand movements as if the balloon is expanding and a hissing sound as they exhale.
2)Candle Gazing Technique
Place a lit candle and ask your child to gaze at the flame and focus. Tell them to count the number of times the flame flickers. In yogic practice, it’s called trataka which means, "healing and cleansing the eyes”. For younger kids, you can use the battery operated fake candles. They can be fidgety too, so reward them for sitting long hours.
3) Connecting with Nature
Connecting with nature can calm and soothe your kids’ minds and give positivity. Take them for a walk in the woods or parks, let them listen to chirping birds, touch the bark of the trees, smell flowers. They will find beauty and appreciate nature. Gardening and planting will also help them connect with nature as they feel the soil between their fingers and instil with the idea of caring and nurturing the plants.
4) Recite Chants or Mantras
Chanting helps decrease stress and depressive symptoms and give you a positive mood and help you focus. Chants or mantras are words or sounds that are recited over and over to build concentration. While doing yoga we make the “om” sound and if chanted correctly, it gives the same vibrational frequency for everything throughout the universe. Bhuddist chanting is also quite popular. Just teach your kids to sit in a quiet place and teach them to say those chanting words or sounds.
5) Light Bath Meditation
This meditation is mainly for older kids, teenagers who are tensed and exhausted with their daily tasks and having negative feelings. Make your kids sit straight or lie on their backs in a comfortable way. First, make your kids imagine a drain being clogged and flushed down by pouring water. Make them imagine that light-bath is just the same, a high-frequency light poured through the body and cleansing it. Let the light travel and stay in the mind for a while and then move it to the other parts of the body.
- Don’t push around your kids to do the meditation, keep it light. Give them some time and make them do it when they feel like doing it.
- Make it more fun by letting them choose themes they are interested in.
- Make it short and effective so that they don’t get bored out of it.
- You can tell them about the benefits of meditation and make them more interested.
- Timing of practice according to age.
- Toddlers and preschoolers- a few minutes per day
- Elementary- school-aged kids- 3-10 minutes twice per day
- Teens and adults: 5-20 minutes (or more) twice per day
It may take some time to make them get used to it but eventually, they will make it. Make it a gradual process.