If you are a busy parent of a young child (really who isn’t?), you likely find it challenging to find the time or space to meditate. I know I do. One solution is to have your child meditate with you. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking, but it with realistic expectations and little sense of humor, it is possible.
Meditating With Young Children
For children five and under it will be difficult for them to sit for any length of time. Even a few seconds might be the most you can expect. But the reality is, sometimes this is all you need. Just meditating or being in the present moment for 60 seconds can make a huge difference.
So, adjust your expectations and try to remain flexible with your approach. Kindergartners typically can be expected to sit for 5 minutes with sustained, high-quality attention. Results may vary 🙂
Kids Will Be Kids
It’s important to be patient as you work on meditation exercises with your child. It’s normal for children to have difficulty sitting still. They may not be able to keep their eyes closed, they may fidget or wiggle as they sit, and they may laugh or try to be funny because it’s awkward or difficult for them to remain still and quiet. This is completely normal, so try to maintain a sense of humor and take challenges that arise in stride and temper your expectations. It will likely take time to teach your child to meditate. If you’re overly strict or discipline your child too much, you may end up turning this into negative interaction.
Meditation Exercise For Children
First, you’ll want to start with a brief session (1-2 minutes) and try to make it fun. A candle gazing meditation is an easy way to start. Sometimes guided meditations are a great way to teach children to meditate. There are many guided meditations available for free online that are specifically for children. A simple Google search or YouTube search will reveal many options.
I strongly recommend practicing mindful breathing exercises with them on a regular basis. There are opportunities everywhere with little ones. Temper tantrums or emotional outbursts are great opportunities. Rather than get frustrated (or even worse, tell them not to get frustrated), simply hold your child closely, tell them it’s ok, and breathe deeply. Within moments, they will likely follow your lead. Breathe deeply in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Verbalize this as you do it and encourage your child to do the same. The more often you do this with him the easier it will be for them to engage in this as a form of meditation.
There are also apps you can use on your phone or tablet that are completely free. One example is Breathe, Think, Do With Sesame, an app intended for children under five available on Android and iOS. Another example is Wellbeyond Meditation for kids for iOS.
You can also search for classes at meditation Center specifically for children. Simply do a Google search for “meditation center [city, state]” – then check if they have meditation classes for children.
James Killian, LPC is a couples counselor in Woodbridge, CT and the owner of Arcadian Counseling. They have openings for parents in need of mindfulness therapy. Contact them today to schedule a free consultation.