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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Three ways to get your kids started with meditation

It is important to focus our attention on our children’s mental health just as much we would on their physical health.

By: Parenting Desk | New Delhi |
December 9, 2021 7:23:29 pm
children and meditation, how to get kids to meditate, helping children develop the habit of meditation, meditation and yoga for kids, how can kids meditate, parenting, indian express newsAsk your child to relax their body and take a slow, deep breath, till their belly is filled with air, as though blowing a big balloon. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

By Radhika Iyer Talati

For thousands of years, meditation has been revered as a natural and healthy way to calm the mind. Meditative practices have been used to improve well-being, enhance concentration and cultivate mindfulness.

In this fast-paced, multitasking world, there is an increasing cause of concern over the mental stress that children go through. There is research being done by various institutions on techniques that can help them to learn to slow down, to breathe better and to be able to access their intellect better.

It is we as parents who also need to create a meditative space for our kids, a steady practice to embrace themselves for who they are. When you yourself practice meditation, you will be able to help your children discover this space as well. Needless to say, your own connection with them will also grow stronger.

It is important to focus our attention on our children’s mental health just as much we would on their physical health. Moreover, a consistent practice of meditation will help children cope with stress and improve mindfulness, keeping them holistically healthy.

While there are multiple audio recordings, videos, websites and even apps to help children meditate, what you can do by being present with your child during this time is priceless. Here are three effective methods you can practice with your children to teach them the basics of meditation.

MINDFUL BREATHING EXERCISE

This meditation technique is a very simple deep breathing exercise that has astounding results. You can do this together either sitting, lying down or standing.

Ask your child to relax their body and take a slow, deep breath, till their belly is filled with air, as though blowing a big balloon. You count till 5 while they do this, then slowly ask them to breathe out of the nose as you count till 10 till they release the breath fully from their belly.

Repeat this 10 times and each time encourage your kids to feel their entire body relax.

This simple breathing exercise can be practiced with them several times a day, as a sport or as a task they must do to get a surprise from your side.

PAINTING AN IMAGINARY WALL

Children love a story, especially the extra movements, the imagery and the surprises that await them as they finish a task. Find a blank wall and ask them to look at it and close their eyes. Ask them to focus on their breathing while colouring each breath that they inhale and exhale, in their favourite colour.

After 10 repetitions, ask them to paint the blank wall in those colours while keeping their eyes closed. Then have them take a slow, deep inhale through the nose, filling up their tummies with air and releasing the breath slowly while exhaling.

Let them rub their hands and cover their faces before they open their eyes. Now ask them to let you know what they painted on that blank wall. You will be fascinated with the creative details they will tell you.

This meditative exercise with children teaches them to manage strong emotions that are regulated with the use of colours. Combined with deep breathing this technique can help them unwind for life, keeping their temperament joyful even in stressful situations. They learn to open up to their feelings and are able to be better communicators.

PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION TECHNIQUE

This technique is known to help young kids that either have trouble sleeping, or those that are always stressed out.

Ask your child to lie down comfortably and close their eyes. You can also create a cosy space by using pillows or blankets and asking them to lie down there.

Ask them to take a few deep breaths as you begin to prepare them for this relaxing experience. As they become more aware of their breath, guide them progressively to follow your voice. Ask them to bring their attention to their right foot, noticing how it feels. Now ask them to squeeze the right foot and hold it in that state for two deep breaths.

Then make them release the tension and move on to the left foot. Get them to relax this foot completely and ask them to notice the tension disappearing from their feet instantly. They may even feel a tingling sensation in their feet.

Now guide them to move up and around the body, squeezing one body part at a time, to first create tension and then to release the tension and feel de-stressed.

Once you’re done guiding your child through this relaxation technique, make sure they spend at least a few minutes in silence before they narrate their experience to you.

Meditation and mindfulness are an everyday exercise. Put in the habit of being silent in your child from a very young age. Ask them to incorporate deep breathing as a daily bedtime ritual. Remind your kids to relax and take a few deep breaths as they wake up every morning. This will slowly become a routine for them and perhaps this practice would be the most valuable thing you could have ever given your child.

(The writer is Founder of Raa Foundation & Anahata Organics, yogini, mountaineer & philanthropist.)

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