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The beginning years are most crucial for a child’s mental development and it is the parents’ duty to ensure that they lay a strong and healthy foundation for them. But how can they do that? We have found that meditation not only provides peace to the stressful lives of adults, but it could also be a huge help for our kids. This Children’s Day, let’s take a step towards improving their mental well being and see how to help children get started with meditation and why it is important for them.
However, the stresses of the modern world and technology have caught up with children too. According to a 2021 analysis done by UNICEF, more than 1 in 7 adolescents aged 10-19 is estimated to live with a diagnosed mental disorder globally. Especially, the pandemic, which shunned them to confined spaces of their houses, has also affected their mental health.
Benefits of meditation for kids
Prakriti Poddar, a mental health expert and Global Head, Mental Health and Wellbeing at RoundGlass says, “Meditation can be effective in helping children find lasting calm in the chaos and regulate their emotions.” She suggests that meditation can benefit you in numerous ways:
1. Better decision making
In a 2015 study, meditation was found to improve working memory capacity (essential for reasoning and decision-making) in adolescents.
2. More mindful
It makes children more aware. Being mindful helps them cope with stressful situations, regulate emotions, and have a sharper focus.
3. Reduced trauma and stress in everyday life
Sometimes as parents we are not fully aware of what our children are going through at school or with their friends. “Meditation gives them the tools to quieten the noise in their minds and to center themselves, which helps in reducing stress and anxiety,” says Poddar.
4. Calming reactivity
Meditating regularly makes children more centered and less reactive. With meditation it is less likely that they will create a ruckus on not being bought their favorite toy.
Ways to initiate children into meditation
Children seem to have so much excess energy which they dissipate by jumping around or playing, so how do we get children to sit still? It won’t happen in a day, but a gradual practice could help them reach a deeper meditative state of mind. Here are three ways to initiate children into meditation:
1. Introduce deep breathing
Poddar suggests that children can start by first learning to take deep breaths. For instance, encourage them to do short breathing exercises before they go to bed. It will help them unwind and prepare for longer meditation sessions. Similarly, adolescents can be taught to take a few deep breaths before answering a difficult question in class or a test, and before an athletic performance.
2. Read them a story
“For children, meditation need not always involve sitting still in one place. Listening to their parents read from a storybook can be just as meditative,” says Poddar. To create a truly immersive experience, narrate the story at a gentle pace, take time to explain twists and turns and draw your child’s attention by asking his/her observations and comments. This will help them learn how to quiet their mind and then they can proceed to meditation.
3. Music and Nature
Getting your child to learn and play a musical instrument or going for hikes in nature will also calm their mind. Or sitting with them quietly just with some music on will help them calm down and is very close to what is done during meditation.