How much do you wish your child is able to have self-control, concentrate for a second and give you some peace? Have you ever thought about meditation as a solution?
It may seem impossible to ask your child to sit still or lay down and relax for a while, but we’re telling you it’s not impossible at all! In fact, it is quite easy when you use relaxing music with the sounds of nature from YouTube.
Here is an experience one of our team members had:
“One of my ‘WOW’ moments happened last night when my son suggested to do a relaxation activity together and he was the one to lead! It was unbelievable for me that he was completely capable to create the sentences with the right tune and knowing the right moments to pause and start again even though he is only 5 years old! He really liked it and I enjoyed doing it with his voice.”
It is a very common question to ask ‘Should children be thought at a very early age to meditate? Isn’t it difficult for them to learn?’ Well, for sure you can find the answers to some of your questions here in this blog.
What is Meditation for kids? Is there a difference between that and meditation for grown ups?
Why do we emphasize the importance of healthy eating and looking after our children physically, but we don’t really discuss the importance of looking after their thoughts and mind in general? Meditation is all the same however, it is easier for adults to meditate than children, so there are lots of useful resources to help your child to concentrate better.
Some useful online Meditation guides for kids:
1) Cosmic Kids:
We have found a link to a video on YouTube by ‘Cosmic Kids’ that explains perfectly what ‘thoughts’ are using thought bubbles and about Mindfulness Meditation for kids. It’s a very interesting and fun way to introduce meditation to your kids in a way that they can understand it easily:
Cosmic Kids is a great YouTube channel that teaches yoga, mindfulness and relaxation for kids through storytelling and interactive adventures that makes it fun for them! For example, they have many videos where yoga is taught through the story of Sleeping Beauty, Frozen and Pokémon and other well-known cartoons and movies, as well as yoga videos that help with any problems. It’s best for kids aged 5 to 9 but older kids can enjoy them too. This is great way to have family fun with your children so you can not only have quality time with them but also so that you can make sure they are doing the yoga/meditations correctly. Invite your friends and your kids can have ‘meditation’ play dates with your friends’ kids!
You can also visit their website www.cosmickids.com that also has lots of videos, blogs, a shop where you can purchase lesson plans as well as the possibility to train to teach yoga to kids yourself! One of our team members’ son told his mother that his school was using Cosmic Kids to teach them about yoga and meditation on a weekly basis and he expressed how much he loved it!
Are you looking for a simple app that has a wide variety of meditations for different ages and different times of the day that you can have easy access to and won’t have to do a lot of searching yourself? Then we have the perfect app/website for you!
Headspace is a paid meditation subscription service with a free trial that have meditations specifically catered to people as well as to children of different ages- they offer exercises designed for toddlers, pre-teens and every age between. You can start a free trial and then subscribe monthly or annually. Headspace is great for spending quality time with your children while at the same time, teaching them a valuable life skill. Their main goal is to see children happy and healthy, not just in the present moment, but for the rest of their lives and they believe that their company will aid in doing just that. Headspace offers 5 main themes for your child to explore: Calm, Focus, Kindness, Sleep and Wake Up. They offer different exercises for three age groups- age 5 and under, age 6-8 and age 9-12.
These are some examples of what Headspace offers:
- Hundreds of guided meditations on different topics like stress or sleep
- Lots of mindfulness exercises for cooking, eating etc.
- Short meditations that you can do when you have a very busy day
- Expert guidance from the Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe
- Sleeping sounds to help you sleep easily
- Fun animations to help you practice meditating
They also offer a section on their website that is full of blogs on different topics: www.headspace.com/blog/
For example, one of their blogs is the topic of ‘death’- how to deal with grief using meditation. There’s also other topics like how to teach your kids ‘self-control’ and simple ways to teach meditation to your children etc.
Is meditation helpful particularly for children?
It may not be easy start practicing with the children, especially at the beginning of puberty (from around age 10). Most children are hyper active around this age and meditating will help throughout child development (approx. from around age 6-12) to relax and to quieten their minds. So their concentration can improve for their studies. Teaching them about meditation will support them to help them stay calm, happy and healthy for the rest of their life.
When is meditation strongly recommended for children?
Meditation can be particularly beneficial when your child has night terrors as breathing exercises can help to calm them down. (A night terror is a type of sleep disruption that usually lasts a few minutes- it’s like a nightmare but worse, where the child can be shouting or screaming, sweating and having intense fear). It can definitely be difficult to get your child to sit down for 5 minutes to close their eyes and meditate as they are very easily distracted and would rather be sitting in front of the television. So, we need to find a kind of meditation that can also be entertaining for our children so that they don’t get bored quickly and start fidgeting. Meditating is great at any time of the day but maybe you can start to incorporate some time during your child’s bedtime routine to meditate. Maybe try getting them to start off by doing some deep breathing every night for about 5 minutes as they are in bed to ‘wind down for the night’.
Meditation in schools
Meditation is starting to be introduced to schools in England to promote good mental health. It’s crucial especially in todays society where mental health problems are increasing and there is a lot of demand for young people to contact the NHS about issues such as anxiety and depression. Some struggle with separation anxiety, pressure at school, bullying, pressure from social media or even problems at home such as parents getting divorced etc. Mindfulness meditations, relaxation techniques and breathing exercises will help children to reduce their anxiety and pain, control their emotions and this ends up preventing the need for extra professional help growing up. Some children have stated that meditating keeps them calm throughout the day and helps them focus on their work. Another child had stated that “I’m a lot less angry and so its also easier to talk to people and communicate and relationships are a lot easier”. One school in London reported that their students were 24% less aggressive and that they achieved 15% higher maths grades. Believe it or not, they have also had 0 suspensions!
Not only does meditation have a great impact on their mentality but also on their learning and education. Another school has an interesting alternative to a suspension room that children can go to where they ‘centre themselves’. They work with a staff member and by the end of the 20 minutes, they are ready to return to class. This practice helps children to reflect and manage their own behaviour as well as helping the teachers to manage their classroom.
Effects of Meditation on ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
Mindfulness meditation is particularly good for children with ADHD as it enables you to control your attention, focus on something specific and generally bring you back into the present moment and this awareness will make your child less likely to act recklessly. It is believed that meditation is great for this disorder as it thickens your prefrontal cortex (which is a part of your brain that involves focus and planning) and increases levels of dopamine in the brain, which people with ADHD are lacking in. Research such as one UCLA study found that ‘people with ADHD who attended a mindfulness meditation session once a week for 2.5 hours, then completed a daily home meditation practice that gradually increased from 5-15 minutes over 8 weeks, were better able to stay focused on tasks’. They also found there was a decrease in depression and anxiety.
What is Transcendental Meditation?
Transcendental meditation is a type of meditation different to Mindfulness Meditation. It is a form of silent mantra meditation and is practiced for 20 minutes twice per day with the eyes closed. A mantra is a word, phrase or sound that is repeated while meditating to help you concentrate. It can be a simple positive word such as ‘peace’ depending on what you want or need in life and this positivity will help to replace the negativity in your mind.
Unlike mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation doesn’t need concentration or trying to quieten the mind from our many thoughts. Instead, this happens naturally through the use of a mantra. The main difference is that in mindfulness, you concentrate on staying focused on the present but with transcendental meditation, ‘the goal is to transcend thought itself and experience a state of pure-awareness’ (Varnel, LinkedIn).
‘Beeja’ is a company that aims to help reduce the stresses of every day life and for everyone to enjoy life more- school kids, adults, people looking for a career in meditation, and basically everyone else! This company offers meditation courses, classes and events in London, as well as teaching about transcendental meditation. Some meditation classes are offered in age ranges of 5-9, 10-15, 16+ as well as courses for schools. Their studio is located in Hoxton Square and they offer a free ‘Intro Talk’ which is an hour long relaxed session where you can find out what the company offers and the techniques they use in their meditation practises. Anyone/everyone is welcome!
Beeja helps with many problems/illnesses such as ADHD (the number of children with ADHD is increasing, which is why it has been mentioned again). Many parents these days are looking for alternatives to medications because of the many possible side effects so more people are discovering the benefits of meditation.
So what is ADHD?
ADHD is thought to be caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain and so Beeja meditation aims to restore that balance. The children start becoming more aware of the things around them and can develop relationships with others more easily since they are able to read peoples emotions better. Beeja give out mantras that immediately calms down the mind, body and nervous system. According to scientific studies, the students with ADHD who received personalised mantras showed ‘improved brain functioning, increased brain processing and improved language-based skills’ (Beeja).
Benefits of Meditation on Autism
Like those with ADHD, children with Autism also have difficulties concentrating and communicating with people. Autism affects the child’s learning ability, their behaviour, communication skills and social interactions. An example of a difference between Autism and ADHD is that those with Autism find it difficult concentrating on certain tasks such as reading a book and try to focus instead on tasks they enjoy such as playing a game. Those with ADHD however tend to outright avoid these tasks. Parenting is very difficult when you have a child with a learning difficulty so you need to be more aware of their struggles since they have less social awareness and they find it hard to communicate their thoughts.
Going back to the topic of transcendental meditation, TM has been successful in improving the quality of life of children and adults with autism. One woman from this video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Z0J9R5AJNk&t=74s) expresses the struggles she had with her autistic son, with his anger and temper tantrums. She says that she tried many different therapies such as social skills therapies and occupational therapies, however, TM was the only ‘therapy’ that affected many different areas of their lives. TM helped to create happiness for her and her son. After a month of TM, he didn’t even have a temper tantrum! His teacher even said that he started socialising more, joined different clubs, became part of teams and became a scout.
Social interaction is something we can’t avoid on a daily basis, so this can be extremely distressing for those with Autism who want to avoid it.
According to Dr David Black, this causes them to suffer from chronic stress and after conducting a study on the effects of TM, they found ‘decreases in anxiety, reduction in stress and parents describing much better emotion regulation’ as well as an increase in their willingness to try new activities that they had never done before.
There is a whole universe to Meditation. The topic is endless and it is simply impossible to list all the benefits of it and all of the illnesses/problems it helps because although we have only mentioned the benefits of meditation specified for children with ADHD or Autism, the fact is that there are MANY other problems we face daily that meditation can help with. Some examples are anxiety, depression, anger management, self-esteem issues, addictions, PTSD etc.
And as always, don’t forget to give thanks and express gratitude in your Mindful Dreams notebook! Let us know what experiences you have had with either Mindfulness meditation or Transcendental Meditation as well as the problems you have faced that meditation had a huge impact on!