The Whys and Hows of Meditation for Kids

The Whys and Hows of Meditation for Kids

Curious about meditation for kids but not sure where to start? We’ll take you through the details. Read on for all the ins and outs.
If you’ve discovered the many benefits of mindfulness for your own health and well-being, the idea of meditation for kids may seem quite appealing.

Maybe friends and teachers have talked about the adoption of meditation practices in schools, and you’re curious about exactly how they work.

So what are the pros — and are there any cons?

While the research on meditation for kids is still young, it does show a lot of promise.

We’ll take you through the details.

In this article: 📝

  • What is meditation for kids?
  • Is it healthy for kids to meditate?
  • What we know about meditation practice in schools
  • What age can kids start meditating?
  • How do I start my child meditating?
  • Is there a meditation app for kids?
  • Meditation for kids: the bottom line

What is meditation for kids?

Meditation is a practice that integrates mind and body to cultivate attention, self-awareness, and relaxation.

It focuses on observing your thoughts without judgment and fosters a sense of perspective.

Meditation for kids is the same idea — but specially configured for younger bodies and minds.

In practice, meditation involves focusing on your breath to bring yourself to the present moment.

Sometimes, it involves honing in on a specific image, thought, or word — and sometimes, it’s just all about the breath.

It can be part of a religious or spiritual practice or exist on its own for its mind-body benefits.

There are various types of meditation. These include:

  • Loving-kindness meditation, which aims to foster compassion for self and others,
  • Moving meditation, which uses gentle movement to integrate body and mind, and
  • Mindfulness meditation, where you pay attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment.

Often, these are combined into a holistic meditation practice.

Is it healthy for kids to meditate?

First up, the American Academy of Pediatrics thinks that meditation and kids are a good mix.

Research is highlighting the many benefits of meditation for all ages, including improving sleep, mood, and memory and managing stress.

This study showed that mindfulness practice reduces our cortisol levels (the stress hormone), which may make it a very useful complementary therapy for treating conditions like anxiety disorders.

And this study showed that meditation enhances memory, improves attention, and boosts mood.

For kids who have been exposed to stress and trauma, research is showing that mindfulness may be beneficial in both the long and short term, improving both mental and physical health.

So it’s not hard to see why there’s been a recent surge of interest in incorporating meditation practices in schools.

And while the research is still in its early phases, it’s looking like the benefits are real.

What we know about meditation practice in schools

This review looked at the current research on meditation from the perspective of student well-being, social competence, and academic performance.

It found that although the effect of meditation in schools appears to be small, it’s not insignificant.

It also suggests that we’re still at the beginning of exploring how fruitful this practice can be.

One thing to be aware of is that there’s a possibility that the research on the effects of meditation may be positively skewed.

We don’t quite know for sure if the benefits of meditation in schools come from meditation itself or simply from allowing kids to have a break from their busy schedules.

How long, what type, and the curriculum design all come into play — and the hope is that we’ll only get better at figuring this all out.

So where does that leave us?

Well, it seems like meditation shows a lot of promise as a practice for adults and kids alike.

And even if we’re not 100% sure about the details of these benefits yet, having quiet time in a noisy world is pretty magical, regardless.

Like any new activity you or your kids engage in, it’s a good idea to have it guided by trained professionals — whether that’s online or in person — and monitor it to see if it’s bringing up any feelings or thoughts that need attention.

What age can kids start meditating?

There’s no one way to do this.

Some people recommend starting at seven years old, and others recommend starting as young as two.

The first ingredient has to be interest from your child — otherwise, you may have an uphill battle on your hands.

And it may defeat the purpose for them to develop any sort of negative associations with the practice.

You may want to make it part of a bedtime or waking-up routine.

If you already have a meditation practice going, perhaps get them to join you, if it’s not too disruptive.

How do I start my child meditating?

Here are some tips to get started:

1. Practice sitting in a comfortable position.

Meditation should be done in a quiet space and in a comfortable position so that distractions are kept to a minimum.

Sitting with crossed legs and an upright back is a good option.

It’s totally normal for kids to get squirmy and struggle to sit still.

This is not something they need to “get right” — rather, it’s something to practice.

See if they want to have their eyes open or closed — again, no one “right” way to do this.

2. Start with some simple breathing exercises.

Here are some ideas:

  • Have them place one hand on their belly and the other on their chest.
  • Get them to focus on the feeling of inhales and exhales and how this feels in their bodies.
  • Try counting the breaths for them — starting with a simple two counts for an inhale, two for an exhale.
  • Include a visualization, like breathing in and then blowing out bubbles or a balloon.

3. Use aids and guides

  • A simple mantra like “I believe in myself” can help. (Psst. If you’re looking for affirmations for yourself, head here.)
  • Focussing on an object can also be a good idea.
  • Check-in with their feelings — are they feeling happy, calm, bothered, nervous? Whatever is coming up is okay.

And know that giggles and wriggles will likely ensue.

This is all part of the process.

Returning to a breath, a word, or an object can help them recover their focus.

Is there a meditation app for kids?

Luckily, you don’t have to do this all on your own.

The digital world is here to help.

Here’s a list of some really useful meditation apps and videos for kids.

Many of them have free trials and content to get you started.

Guided meditation for kids

Sleep meditation for kids

Meditation videos for kids

Meditation for kids: the bottom line

The research on meditation for kids may be quite new, but it’s showing a lot of promise.

This diverse practice appears to have all sorts of benefits for little bodies and their big minds.

Start slow.

Be patient.

And if you want to share tips and tricks with your Peanut community, we’re right here.

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