Readers respond quite frequently to my blogs: ‘if only I could convince my 10 year old to do meditate.’ It may be majorly challenging to get children to practice, but if we can get them to sit for hours in front of video games, brush their teeth regularly, or study for exams, I do believe it’s possible.
There are three things a parent must first be willing to give in order to start on this journey:
- Time – it is going to require time and patience to teach a child yoga and meditation. Can you give it?
- Empathy – a person needs to get in the mind of the child. THINK like a child. What are the obstacles for the child? How do they usually learn? Are you using a reward that you would like, or that the child would like? Make sure it is geared to the specific child.
- Rewards – they do not have to be monetary, but all children love rewards. Whether it is words of affirmation, reduction in chores, 30 minutes added to their bed time, an additional allowance, or the ability to have extra play time. Use what works for the child.
The earlier you start the child, the better. Some suggestions for getting children excited about meditating:
- Allow them to create a calm corner in their room. Make sure the colors are soothing as opposed to stimulating – light blues and greens are the most calming. Buy them a cool eye masks from Target for $1.00 so they get some help closing their eyes. Take them to find a special rock or stick that they think is neat and can place on their ‘altar.’ Create a tie die or Disney or sports pillow case they can sit on during their practice.
- Find out if the child’s heroes meditate. Ask them to find out for you. Show them all the ‘cool people’ they admire that meditate.
- Make sure to do it at a time when they are their calmest. Maybe when they wake up? Or perhaps after they are done with school and need a rest? Definitely avoid times where they are their most energetic and excited.
Some additional things you can do to help generate a child friendly environment for meditating:
- Write to Disney Producers and ask them to have some episodes where they children meditate to reduce stress / conflict. Instead of being catty and talking about other girls, have them generate internal calm by taking a five minute meditation break. Get child programming to make it trendy and cool.
- Find a local class for teaching children to meditate at your local rec center or church. If they don’t have one, ask them to create one. If you have one, encourage your own meditation group to have a ‘bring your child’ day, so that you are passing down the tradition of meditating.
- Write to Congress encouraging them to include meditation in school – even for five minutes at the beginning of the day. Teach children how to set their intentions, how to get an inner quiet, focus, and relax. It is FREE curriculum and yet so important.
- Write to your local paper asking them to publish an article on children and meditation, so you get more people in your community interested and teaching their own children.
It astounds me that we teach little to children on emotional regulation and management, yet when it comes to life that ability to manage moods and impulses is what can make or break your success. It isn’t my math scores or my ability to recite poetry that has created the majority of my problems and successes in life, it is the ability to successfully manage my emotions and express them in ways that help instead of hurt me.
Teaching children skills like meditating are a step towards helping them learn how to feel things, integrate them into experiences without acting out, and then let them go.
Does your child meditate? What works / doesn’t work?