How meditation helps children deal with stress

You’ve probably heard of meditation for adults and maybe even practise it yourself because of its many benefits, but have you ever considered it for kids?

While the idea of getting your child to calmly sit long enough to earn the rewards of meditation might sound a bit overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be.

What is meditation and who can benefit from it?

Meditation is a technique of mindfulness and self-awareness, and meditation for kids is no different. By practising meditation regularly, we can teach our minds to observe stressful thoughts without judgment and learn to relax when we need to.

Especially in today’s society, with the constant overload of information and technology coming at us all day long, we allow ourselves minimal downtime to breathe, relax and be with our thoughts – exhausting.

Meditation lets us switch off distractions, whether something stressful externally, like a thunderstorm or busy thoughts running through our minds and stay attentive to the present moment [1].

Anyone can learn to meditate, and yes, even kids. Children as little as two can benefit from meditation and the peace of mind that results from it.

By including meditation for kids into their daily routine, your child will have the chance to tap into this practical skill at a moment’s notice to help them find peace whenever they need it [2].

What is meditation and who can benefit from it

Advantages of meditation for kids

For many individuals, meditation is something we started as adults after hearing about or reading up on its benefits. Though envision if we had known about it when we were younger.

Could we have directed our emotionally challenging teenage years more effectively? Would we have had better control of schoolwork stress? Or how about communicating with family members and friends with more kindness?

Numerous studies have shown the great benefits of meditation in kids’ lives. One analysis showed the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation in adolescence [3]; another one revealed how meditation helped students perform better academically [4]; and this study focused on the link between emotional intelligence and meditation in teens [5].

This resounding evidence speaks to one fact: meditation can be particularly advantageous in various facets of kids’ lives.

Here are other ways meditation can help your child:

  • Augmented self-awareness and empathy
  • Boosted focus and prolonged attention span
  • Decreased stress and anxiety
  • Enhanced emotional regulation
  • Improved sleep
  • More powerful mental resilience

In addition, studies found that meditation can help children improve their working memory capacity [6]. In essence, this is the cognitive ability to selectively maintain and manipulate said information without getting distracted over short periods. This can result in upgraded academic performance, including mathematical and literacy skills.

One vital question remains? Is it possible for every child to meditate?

As a parent, it can be difficult to envision your child being still and concentrating on a guided meditation. You have seen their limited attention span and know how easily they get frustrated. Certainly this activity is meant for naturally well-behaved kids, unlike yours (or so you think).

You’ll be delighted to know that children can be great at meditation. We sometimes forget how willing and receptive kids are to new experiences. 

Their curious minds tend to embrace new things. So, while it’s normal to be anxious about introducing meditation to your child, the incredible benefits are worth it.

How to teach a child to meditate?

Teaching kids to meditate is not an easy job. It’s definitely hard, but not impossible. But mind you, ensure that you spoke to your child about the activity and are taking in their voluntary collaboration.

Here’s a guide to help you in case you are battling with the same [7]: 

  • Begin by explaining what meditation is: bypass the big fat words and stick to simple terms like “calm”, “focus” and “present”. Animated videos from YouTube can also help to get your child’s fixed attention on the topic.
  • Sort out their preference. see how the child can focus better – is it through silent or guided meditation? Mostly, guided mediation works better for children, but choices can always be diverse.
  • Mix stories and mindfulness meditation: make kids imagine situations – take them into a distant imaginary place they like and ask them to focus on what they see there.
  • Create a game out of the process: you can hold hearing contests like making kids listen to sounds while meditating. They can be asked to jot down sounds they heard during a five-minute session. Games like this make it easier for kids to focus on their breath.
  • Do it together: plan out a few minutes from your daily routine to meditate together with your child. Kids tend to follow their parents, so if you keep up with it, they are most likely to do so too.

But most notably, do it all only if your kid is interested. Because, if forced, meditation can do no wonders for your child.

What’s next after teaching meditation to the child?

There’s still more to discover regarding how meditation affects brain development in children. This includes the most effective meditation techniques, the ideal frequency and duration, and how it affects children differently [8].

This particular study focused on a relatively small sample of 12 children with active cancer and survivors who may have undergone significant distress over the diagnosis, treatment and uncertainty about the future [9].

Future studies with larger sample sizes, including children with a broader variety of diagnoses and exposures to early adversity or trauma will assist researchers to better understand how meditation affects children’s body and brain.

The findings highlight the need to understand how meditation techniques work. Recent studies have started to explore how participating in mindfulness, and meditation-based programs can shape brain functioning in children.

Grasping how these techniques function is also vital for optimising how they could be applied in health care settings, like coping with needle-related procedures or supporting children in managing adverse effects of stress and trauma. 

[1] https://www.learnwithhomer.com/homer-blog/4150/meditation-for-kids/
[2] https://blog.learnwithhomer.com/2021/01/04/family-rituals-examples-meaning/
[3] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1754730X.2009.9715696
[4] https://ijsser.org/files_2019/ijsser_04__337.pdf
[5] https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02162/full
[6] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1054139X15003808
[7] https://ezyschooling.com/parenting/expert/how-can-meditation-help-children
[8] https://lifestyle.livemint.com/health/wellness/how-meditation-helps-children-deal-with-stress-111662702702023.html
[9] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/pbc.29917

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The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.