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Meditation Techniques For Children – Should Pre-School Kids Meditate?

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meditation techniques for children

Teaching young children to meditate is becoming very trendy. Here are two methods that are great for pre-schoolers.

Meditation techniques for children are becoming very popular.  This brings up the question… should pre-school kids meditate?

Here are my thoughts on the matter.  Pre-schoolers probably don’t have the mental development to do long periods of concentration, and they definitely do not have the intellectual capacity to understand abstract principles associated with many schools of meditation.

But there are ways of making even the most abstract concepts become simple and fun… and those are the meditation techniques for children that can give them all the benefits of meditation.

Here is Gwynne Watkins writing for The Daily Beast on the growing ranks of parents and gurus who say meditation calms crazy-wild kids.

Meditation Techniques For Children

You could say that Amdo, a sweet, calm, and curious boy who lives in Brooklyn with his mother Jae, has been meditating since before he learned to walk.

As a toddler, he was fascinated by his mother’s meditation practice, and began to crawl into her lap and sit with her when she meditated in the mornings. Jae, a book conservator who’s been practicing Soto Zen meditation as a discipline for four years, soon begun giving Amdo gentle guidance on the principles of meditation, which he’s already applying to his life. “I tell him, ‘Feel what it feels like to feel a tingle in your fingertips,’” says Jae. “It’s not a technique, but you have to be really still (to do it). There was one time when I was really agitated, and spontaneously Amdo was like, ‘Mom, feel your fingertips!’”

One psychologist says that while “not all kids will be able to do meditation,” she’s found that “many kids” can “learn meditative breathing techniques that will help them regulate and not lose control.”

Merriam-Webster defines the act of meditating as “to focus one’s thoughts on, reflect on, or ponder over.” Which means that the definition of the opposite of meditation might be: “to be a toddler.” But some parents are embracing the idea that meditation can calm their rambunctious young children. For holistically minded moms and dads, it’s like a dose of spiritual Ritalin.

Parents apparently have a different visualization: serene, sedate children who learn to love an activity that keeps them quiet and still for long stretches of time. As such, many meditation centers have begun offering programs for children as young as 7, and meditation instructors tell The Daily Beast that there’s an increasing demand for courses aimed at the pre-K set.

And, perhaps surprisingly, experts say there are indeed elements of meditation that apply directly to the type of frustration that very young children are inclined to feel. “From 2 to 6, children undergo many changes and have little control over their environments,” says Dr. Jennifer L. Hartstein, a child and family psychologist. “Sometimes, their problematic behaviors are directly linked to that.” Although Hartstein says flat-out that “not all kids will be able to do meditation,” she’s found that “many kids” can “learn meditative breathing techniques that will help them regulate and not lose control.”

Even if your child doesn’t aspire to join a monastery someday, they can still appreciate the principles of mediation—or at least, you as a parent can. Renee Skuba’s son Lucien, who turns 4 in a few months, is what Renee diplomatically describes as “very active.”

“Maybe it’s because he’s a boy, or because we don’t have outdoor space,” she says of Lucien’s bouncing-off-the-walls energy level. “A city kid is different from a suburban kid.” To help Lucien cope, Skuba, a yoga instructor and musician, began doing breathing exercises and chants with him. “At nighttime, when he’s really active and not calming down, we’ll do sounds,” she explains, illustrating with hand motions. “Take a deep breath, fill up like a balloon—now buzz like a bee.”

Skuba goes through a small litany of sounds—bzzz, hisss, sssh, mmm—raising her arms with the breath, then lowering them with the sound. “When the breath is really short, the mind is really active,” she says, echoing closely what meditation gurus also recommend for adults. “This slows their breath.”

She’ll sometimes pull Lucien aside to take some deep breaths when playdates turn into wrestling matches, “and he’ll be ready to come back and enter from a more peaceful state.” Skuba and Lucien also do a yogic chant—the prayer of peace, love, and light,  in lieu of a lullaby.

The chanting, she says, makes bedtime a breeze by triggering a peaceful, sleepy state. “It’s like Pavlov’s dog.”

But what if you’re the type of parent who’s more inclined to relax with coffee and Mad Men than deep-breathing and mindfulness? Can you still teach your toddler to meditate in good conscience? Yes, says Anne Kenan, who teaches a meditation class for 3- to 6-year-olds at New York City’s Shambhala Center—but it probably won’t take unless you do it with them. “You don’t have to be a seasoned professional. You can start anytime,” she says.

And there’s no need to be too disciplined or structured about meditation when it comes to children. Her own son Rhese, 3, will only sit “for a minute or two,” but, she says, that’s enough. Original story here

“It’s more getting [your children] familiar with the practice of it. And practicing being still and being quiet,” she says. “They’re not meditating in the sense that they’re following their breath or using a technique. They’re just sitting there.

Which is great—that’s how you start.”

 

For me, the two main lessons were …

1. teach your child how to have control over the breath
2. chanting helps your kids control their mental states (and kids love repetition, so chanting is a natural for them)

Are you interested in learning more about how to teach your kids appropriate meditation techniques for children?  If you are, please leave a comment below and we will deliver lots more articles and videos on various ways to teach meditation to kids.

And… if you like the idea of giving children the skills to meditate, please click the like button below to share this article on Facebook.

27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Pingback: Meditation Techniques For Children – Should Pre-School Kids Meditate? | meditationtechniquesvideos

  2. Peggy

    August 2, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    As a pre school teacher,I find this article fascinating. I can absolutely see the potential benefits of this for so many children and not just the very active ones. Children today are feeling and feeding off the parents stress.This could be wonderful for children dealing with divorce, deployment, and sickness in the the family

    • Jim Arthur, Senior Meditation Editor

      August 3, 2011 at 7:01 am

      Hi Peggy … you are so right about kids feeling the stress of their parents and the others around them.

      Check back… I have some more for toddlers,,, and also some simple ideas for pre-school and elementary school age…

      Really they are more like little games that kids can play ….

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts……

  3. Crissy Sunshine

    August 2, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    I have worked with ages 0-3 for 20 years, and know this to be an amazing tool.

    • Jim Arthur, Senior Meditation Editor

      August 3, 2011 at 6:59 am

      Hi Crissy…..

      Thanks for the feedback.
      Would you like to write a brief guest article for our readers?

      Sure would be good if you could…

      Jim

  4. Noevia LOPEZ

    August 2, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    I feel that this is very need 4 children, Just remember children live in a DELTA State of mind . which MEANS THAT THEY ARE ALWAYS IN MEDITATION . They just do not know how to apply it .

    • Jim Arthur, Senior Meditation Editor

      August 2, 2011 at 7:48 pm

      That is a very interesting point Noevia … I’ll think about it… but my intuition is that what you say is right one.

      Thanks for your contribution!

      Jim

  5. Jodie

    August 2, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    My children have been in very stressful situations and would benefit from meditation. I myself practice meditation daily and even lead a meditation class for recovering addicts, however I would be very interested in techniques for little ones.
    Thank you

  6. Maegan

    August 3, 2011 at 5:03 am

    My kids are 3.5 and 2 and they are expert downward doggers plus they try really hard to do deep breathing. I must do this! It’s a no-brainer for preschoolers who are working really hard on controlling their frustration.

    • Jim Arthur, Senior Meditation Editor

      August 3, 2011 at 6:55 am

      Hey Maegan — that’s GREAT! I’m going to have lots more tips and mini-meditations for young children, so check back. Also…. would love to see a picture of your kids doing downward dog or deep breathing…. email me if you want to share…. it’s OK if you don’t…. but I love the idea of showing kids building a healthy body and a healthy inner life at such tender ages.

  7. Jules Gregory

    August 9, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I am certain that many cases of dis-ease and potential future health and behaviour issues could be avoided if meditation were taught at an early age. The health benefits are a matter of scientific fact now.

    As with many aspects of our childs development, parents should take the lead and ensure their children are given a broad understanding of the spiritual and personal growth side of life as much as the academic.

    • Jim Arthur, Senior Meditation Editor

      August 11, 2011 at 3:49 am

      Hey Jules .. I agree 100% with your comment.
      It’s pretty much established that meditation is as helpful to health and happiness as good diet and proper exercise.

      Thanks for the comments. I will be checking out your binaurual site, as I have received lots of benefit
      from the kind of braintuning that binaural beats can deliver (when well done).

      –Jim

  8. marjorie

    October 25, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Wow wish I knwe about this wen my kids were small I think I’m going to do it with
    My gran babies one day thank you

  9. Lori Bisser

    October 26, 2011 at 11:42 am

    It is interesting to me that sometimes, for children a “meditative moment” can be felt by the whole room in a moving meditation, and sometimes it is found in being still for a brief period of time. In my children’s yoga classes, I have learned to not expect something to work every time, and to be flexible in the moment, ready to try something completely new.

  10. Amber Palmqvist

    October 26, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Tell me more !!

  11. Kelly

    October 27, 2011 at 1:18 am

    I struggle to maintain regiment but recognize the strengths and advantages of meditation and breathing techniques. I would love to know how to help people of all ages find a calming peace inside themselves

  12. Patrice Berlinski

    October 27, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I love this! I have been teaching mindfulness techniques to 3 3rd grade classes most of this school year and just added in the Kindergarten class. Meditation is a must to counter the effects of stress, multitasking and the never ending world of technology. Please share more with me. Thank you, Trice

  13. Kristin Ervin

    October 27, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Mindfulness teacher, pls send me mor info.
    Thank you!

  14. Aylin

    November 10, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I have very active 4 and 7 year old girls that I want to tech how to meditate. My husband and I are learning as well and we want to make this part of our daily lives. I would greatly appreciate any videos to encourage my girls to meditate. They are welcoming the idea but I need guidance in order to teach correctly.

    Thx you so much in advance for any info you can share with me. 🙂

    • Jim Arthur, Senior Editor

      November 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm

      Guided meditation for children is on my “to do” list… probably won’t get to it unti early 2012 now. Thanks for your interest. Will update you when I get
      ‘er done.

  15. Julie E

    May 20, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    I’m so interested in learning more about this.
    I believe my 5 yo with attention/ behavioral difficulties would greatly benefit from this.. Please tell me more.

  16. Carol A. Bye-MacLeod

    July 23, 2014 at 10:26 am

    I am interested in bringing meditation to the children in our preschool head start program. I am looking for techniques, scripts, and tools that would make it easy for children to adapt to an awareness/meditation curriculum to be piloted in a classroom and then extended to the other classrooms in three centers.

  17. Fernando Smolders

    October 4, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    Great article I’m starting doing this in this new semester and I’ve seen that it has given them a boost in their concentration skills. It also helps me to meditate while I’m guiding them hahaha

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