Guided Sleep Meditation for Kids

Meditation for Kids
Image credits: Freepik

Meditation for Kids

When it comes to dealing with stress, adults aren’t the only ones who need meditation to help calm their spirits. Children face all kinds of pressures at school and because they are stressed by their studies, they may develop unhealthy eating habits. Other stress factors include homework and other children who might try to compete with them or they may have insecurities about their looks. Hence, having a healthy way to teach kids how to relax, stay focused and reduce anxiety and stress are essential. They can learn how to care for their own mental health and also how to practice eating healthy instead of stress eating.

A question some parents might ask is how to do meditation? They might also want to know what is the best age to start? You might also want to learn about healthy coping mechanisms that can help your child stay centered not just in the present, but throughout their lives. Here are some children’s sleep meditation tips to help kids of any age learn to meditate. They can even learn how to reduce stress when they’re away from home.

Meditation for Kids
Image credits: Freepik

How Meditation for Kids Helps

In looking at when to teach children meditation, one area that can help is to know that children can start meditation at any age. Children have all kinds of energy but face many pressures. There’s performance and peer pressure, they may have low self-esteem (unbeknownst to you) or they may face anxiety, anger issues and even ADHD. Even when they are preschoolers or toddlers you can teach them how to sit quietly and have downtime.

Meditation is essentially a mind-body tool that helps us to refocus or regroup. It can bring a sense of calm and peace to a busy mind. It’s also a way to stop or lower stress hormones so that we can avoid going into a “fight or flight” mindset. To achieve this, mediation helps you to focus your attention, find a quiet place and get comfortable. You can then control your thoughts and bring a busy mind back into balance.

Meditation for adults and children is similar in that it’s self -eflection for long periods. However, because children may not be able to sit still for long, starting with shorter time periods can help them learn how to meditate and they can adjust as they grow and acquire more patience. In younger children, they may not understand why they are sitting still so you may want to incorporate playing with toys and reading books to bring their bodies and minds into a calm state. As parents encourage these practices daily and teach children about these fun ways to unwind, you can continue this practice in their daily routines.

Benefits of Meditation for Kids

Creating a calming and peaceful environment for children extends beyond just having quiet time. Parents can reroute stressful emotions in a therapeutic way that teaches kids how to cope when they feel anxious. They will also learn what is socially acceptable and the practice can continue throughout their lives. Hence, practicing meditation for kids can help them sleep more soundly, keep their attention and help them focus.

Reducing Stress and Kids Sleep Meditation

Another area where meditation helps is that your children will learn how to manage stress, balance their mood swings and that will make it easier for them to retain information. You’re also decreasing stress to their heart, lowering their blood pressure and meditation can improve their dietary choices. They may be less inclined to binge or stress eat and lead a sedentary life as they grow older.

Because stress can affect how we sleep, it’s one of the key areas in determining if it’s a good time to teach your child meditation.

A few questions include:

  • Is there school or family stress keeping them up?
  • Are they struggling to get to sleep?
  • Do they stay asleep at night?

Guided sleep meditation for kids can help improve their sleep maintenance. It can help them remain alert and focused during the day and they’re less prone to some illnesses because the body has time to repair itself at night. When you sleep the body goes into Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and the cells have time to repair themselves. Hence the more relaxed children are through various meditation techniques, the deeper they will sleep.

Meditation for Kids
Image credits: Freepik

Meditating with Your Children

Teaching children how to meditate helps them increase their openness and they can manage the stresses that life brings. In order to do this, they need to learn how to meditate. And, a great way to introduce them to meditation is to practice together.

To start this practice, wait until the child is calm and use yourself as the example to help them integrate it into their young lives. Consider starting at bedtime or in the morning when there’s quiet time. Even children aged 3-4 can learn simple breathing techniques, so let’s start with preschoolers and toddlers.

Breathing Tips for Preschoolers and Toddlers

At young ages, toddlers and preschoolers like to mimic others. It can be part of a new routine where you let them mirror you to learn how to meditate:

  • Start by finding a comfortable position like Baby Cobra (Ardha Bhujangasana) or just have them sit cross-legged. Then, teach them to take a few deep breaths.
  • Ask them to look at their stomach rising and falling as they breathe in and out. This helps them learn to connect with their bodies.
  • Emphasize that you’re doing this to relax but factor in that because they’re so young, you can still make it fun.
  • Let them wiggle and giggle when they initially start but then continue to focus as patience and practice build over time.

Picture Blowing Up a Balloon

To help them better understand how to breathe in meditation, have them envision a balloon they are blowing up. Tell them to imagine they are breathing in deeply so the balloon blows up big. As they breathe out slowly, the balloon doesn’t pop. Tell them if they feel like they’re upset or stressed to imagine blowing up that balloon. 

Other Breathing Meditation Examples

A few breathing examples can help children with mindfulness meditation. They can also learn how to cope with the stress in their lives.

Here are a few examples of guided meditation for kids:

Belly Breathing:

Have them watch as their belly slightly expands when they breathe in and contracts as they breathe out. Do this several times and then return to your regular breathing.

Breath Ball:

Using a geodesic dome that folds and unfolds, have your child hold it out over their stomach with one square on opposite sides. Breathe in slowly and the ball will expand. Breathe out slowly and the ball contracts. Have them do this a few times and keep a rhythmic pace.

Four Square Breath:

For older children, have them breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds and then hold their breath for 4 seconds. After several rounds of this return to your regular breathing.

Mindful Breathing:

Pay attention to each breath and how it moves the body. As your child breathes in, have them say “I am calm.” or “I am the ocean.”

Stuffed Animal Breath:

Have your child lie on their back with a stuffed animal on their stomach. As they breathe in and out, ask them to watch their stuffed animal move up and down as they rock it to sleep.

Meditation for Kid
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Breathing Tips for School-Age Children

When kids are in school, it becomes easier for them to incorporate meditation into their bedtime. It’s also a good time to have children use their hands when they practice so consider having them hold their ring and thumb together. They will begin to associate this with getting into a relaxed state. Hence, if you see them becoming anxious or if they feel like they’re feeling stress, have them use that finger position which will trigger in the brain that it’s time to slow down their thoughts and come to a relaxed state.

Children that are school-age can start meditating for about 5-minutes at a time so consider incorporating this in their morning and bedtime routine. Breathing strategies can help them sleep more soundly at night and prepare for a big day ahead.

Breathing Tips for Teens

In teaching meditation to teens, remember, they’re older so they need to learn how to block out the extra noise in their heads. Have them create a safe place where they can use all their senses. Consider asking questions like:

  • Where is your safe place? Is it indoors or outdoors?
  • What items do you see? Is the sun shining brightly? Are they outside with friends?
  • What do you feel? Is there cool grass under their feet? Or hot sand on the beach?
  • What do they hear? Are there ocean sounds or friends laughing in the distance?
  • What does it smell like? Is it like an amusement park that smells like popcorn? Or are they home where they smell mom baking cookies in the oven?

During this questioning, teens will have to-do lists or things that pop up in their heads. Teach them to not block those thoughts but greet that thought and then allow it to move out with a breath. That way they can get back to their safe place and work on their breathing. Because teens have different activities they enjoy, think about incorporating yoga into their schedules if they enjoy sports and are active. If they like art, consider coloring mandalas to help them learn about focused ways to meditate.

Older teens can meditate on their own schedule but let them create their own space and don’t join in. They need a safe environment that’s away from adults so they can ground and regroup – even if it’s temporarily away from their parents. When you regroup, talk to them and let them openly express themselves about what they’re feeling. Some children feel pressure from parents to perform well at school and in sports and are afraid to tell you. But, children need your support or they’ll act out in other ways. Always let them know you hear their voices and then do something that’s rewarding. Take them for a surprise activity they might enjoy so they can have fun. Yes, you want to prepare them for the future but remember, they are still children who need to grow and play even in their teenage years!

Ultimately, children of any age can learn to meditate. While it might take practice and patience, they can start imitating your sense of calm. Then, as they get older, they can find their own space and work on their self-awareness and maintain their mind-body connection.

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Ayurvedic Meditation Tips for Children

Ayurvedic medicine is not strictly limited to massage, nutrition and alternative healing. It can also include meditation for children and your family members can work together to help support these young minds. From newborns being swaddled to teens finding their own relaxation corner, there are several ways to help nurture children and babies.

Here are a few tips:

Keep a Daily Schedule

Historically, babies, young children and teens have done well with a regular routine. It improves their mental clarity and development to stay on a schedule and their bodies and minds can get used to the rhythm of different daily activities. If they don’t have consistent routines, it becomes overwhelming as they are flooded with all kinds of stimuli and don’t know how to balance each activity. Hence, the ayurvedic method is a daily routine that balances mind and body and helps maintain balance with their doshas. 

Kids Bedtime Meditation

As sleep rhythms start early for smaller children (age 2-3), they are early risers. Meaning you can start meditation with them in the morning like at 6:00 am or 6:30 am and then at night for better dosha balance. If the child has a restless night, let them sleep longer but keep their bedtime at the same time.

Because teens tend to sleep later, let them do their meditation when they wake up. Meditation in the evening shouldn’t be after 10:00 pm but if they’re out late, let them meditate when they get home and settle down. 

Meditation for Kids
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Add Water to Their Morning Routine

Another step that can help is drinking a glass of water as soon as they wake up. It’s inner cleansing and helps stimulate their first bowel movements. Parents can start this morning routine at age one and up.

It’s also preferable for children to have water instead of fruit juice to protect their tooth enamel. Get children accustomed to having water all day with fruit juice as a special occasion type of drink. Let them receive their vitamins from a piece of fruit, not a sugary drink. 

Incorporate Massage and Stretching

Aside from starting with water to empty the bowels and bladder, Abhyanga is recommended. This is a type of full-body massage that is ideal for babies. Rub room temperature sesame oil into their skin for 10-15 minutes a day.

Older children and teens can massage their own skin based on their type of dosha. Look for Kapha massage oil if they have oily skin prone to outbreaks. You will also find Pitta massage oil is available if their skin is sensitive. For normal or dry skin, look for Vata massage oil. 

Meditation for Kids
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Introduce Vedic Sounds

Meditation is essential in helping children unwind. However, some parents make the mistake of introducing more stimuli. They may let children play computer games but this is another form of overstimulation that can cause more stress. With too much stimulation, medical problems like seizures can occur. Hence, meditation and a routine that helps them reduce restlessness is important.

Especially at night when the focus is sleep, your child’s energy level and rhythm need to come down. You need a way to still their busy and wandering minds. Because they are playful at all hours of the day and have shorter attention spans, guiding them into meditation is achievable with Vedic music. Here’s an example. It’s a type of music therapy that harmonizes with the doshas. It brings inner peace and relaxation for both the mind and body. The sounds can actually help lower the heart rate and slow the breathing down which in turn reduces Vata dosha.

To help your children, keep it a fun activity and invoke their creativity. Keep the sessions short so they don’t become boring. Ask your child about their day, their personal experiences and any emotions they felt. End the session on a happy note by validating them and helping them feel confident. Mix up your meditation routine with nature sounds and calming ocean sounds. Here’s an example of calming ocean sounds for children.

Remember, meditation is to help promote stillness so give them time. Children need a place where they can go that is stress-free and they need to learn how to tap into that place in their minds, even when they’re not at home with you. Hence, meditation can help your children be happier and feel more in control of their emotions.

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Mindfulness Meditation

Another aspect of meditation is mindfulness meditation. It’s a way to center your thoughts on the present moment. Sometimes children need to channel a particular feeling or emotion. This isn’t so much about clearing thoughts in your mind but experiencing what you’re thinking right now.

A Mindfulness Example

A great way to start is to sit in a quiet place together and close your eyes. Next, think about someone you respect or admire and send a kind wish to that person. Then, have your kids think of someone who may have caused frustration to them, like another classmate. And, again, send a kind wish to them or say something that is kind. From this simple process, children can learn how to deal with challenging moments when they feel uncomfortable. They also release any inner anger or resentment about a person. Hence, the doshas can stay balanced. Here is a helpful video that can teach kids how to meditate. Insert mindfulness meditation video here.

Mindfulness Meditation Benefits

Meditation is essential for clearing the mind but mindfulness helps them deal with difficult thoughts. Mindfulness helps kids in several different ways.

These include:

  • It increases classroom activity participation and self-control.
  • Children won’t hold grudges.
  • They are able to resolve conflicts on their own.
  • It reduces disruptive thoughts, anxiety, depression and stress. 
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Insert image of mom and child on orange yoga mat

Mindfulness Meditation Tips for Parents

Practicing mindfulness meditation is like the oxygen mask rule on a flight. You must first put your own mask on and then help the person next to you. As you become a mindful parent, you’re more supportive of your child’s day-to-day life.

Here are a few thoughts:

Pause before you respond and curiously listen:

Children want to be heard. They also need a place of acceptance. Even if they say the wrong things, respond with grace and teach them how to make better decisions. Engage their curious minds by asking them to tell you more.

Be honest about your expectations with your children but remember they’re kids:

Children don’t always get it right but instead of letting in frustration, embrace acceptance. This creates a space where they feel loved even when they make mistakes.

When you meditate, let go of the negative:

Sometimes as parents you carry frustrations that were from your own parents. Don’t let pressure flood your thoughts. Accept that some days you might not get it right and your kids might not either. That’s okay. Appreciate the things you did accomplish today, forgive as everyone makes mistakes and remember to have fun and enjoy life. Your children are only young once which brings us to the next point.

Set time aside for creative activities, social awareness and ways to be change agents:

In our families and world, we can make a difference. Whether it’s a local school project that’s asking for support or environmental efforts in your community, participate and get your kids involved. As your children see you practicing good habits, they will, too!

FAQ

What age can kids start meditating?

Kids can typically start meditating as toddlers and preschoolers. You can even help babies unwind with massage.

How do I teach my child to meditate?

Start out with a simple breathing exercise where they breathe in and out and watch their belly rise and fall like a balloon being inflated.

Is meditation good for children?

Yes, it’s a coping mechanism that can help them calm down and learn how to deal with stress.

Should kids meditate in school?

Yes, mindfulness meditation can help them deal with conflicting personalities as they envision sending good energy to that person.

How do you introduce meditation?

Let your child mirror you as you sit in Baby Cobra pose. Breathe in and out slowly and let your child mimic you. They may laugh and squirm, but that’s okay as younger children have shorter attention spans.