If we were able to harness mindfulness and meditation from an early age, what would the world look like? Here’s why we need to have our kids adopt a regular meditation practice, and how instead of painstaking practices like detention, being in the present moment through meditation achieves more value for our kids (and us) in the long run.
If You Had A Time Machine, Go Back And Meditate As A Kid
Do you currently enjoy the benefits of meditation and wish you had started earlier in life, say, as a kid?
Do you have a child or teenager that is overly stressed from the increasingly hectic demands of modern-day society?
Is your child having trouble focusing on his/her schoolwork? Or having self-esteem issues?
As kids, we’ve all been there. And as parents, guardians, or teachers, we can address common issues faced by kids by simply introducing them to meditation.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- Why teaching kids meditation is easier than we think it is
- The 5 benefits of teaching kids meditation
- Meditation tips and techniques for kids
- The top 10 (free) guided meditations online to help kids ease their way into a daily meditation practice
- The top 10 meditation music tracks to enhance your kid’s meditation
Have you ever watched a toddler eat their food? Before they take a bite of it, they thoroughly examine it — they smell it, take it apart, poke it with their fingers, bite it and spit it out.
Children naturally exercise mindfulness — a key component of meditation — because they have less mental barriers, biases, and pre-determined beliefs that allows them to experience a pure state of mindfulness.
In contrast, as adults we believe it takes practice and effort to meditate or to achieve mindfulness because we need to consciously rid ourselves of pre-conceived thoughts, fears, and beliefs that inhibit our natural state of awareness.
It may seem odd to think of children as calm, nonjudgmental, and mindful, but ultimately, children can achieve mindfulness and thereby practice meditation more easily than adults can.
So it’s safe to say that incorporating meditation into a child’s learning process is easier than we think, and schools across the U.S. have begun adding meditation to their curriculum with positive results.
Recently a Baltimore school replaced detention (a conventional way of punishing misbehaving kids by having them sit in silence in a classroom for 1 hour or more) with a more progressive form of behavioral evaluation: meditation.
Instead of the painstaking, and in most cases, the unhelpful process of detention, teaching kids to focus on their breath and being in the present moment achieves more value in the long run.
Even better, teaching kids outside of detention by regularly implementing it as part of school programs or at home may help kids avoid the very reasons that landed them in detention in the first place.
Although research on how meditation affects and benefits kids is not quite as robust and thorough as it is for adults, it’s certainly starting to take off.
Below are some of benefits that research tells us mediation and mindfulness can offer kids.
The mind of the child is constantly observing, questioning, discovering and building assumptions.
Meditation can help kids tune into this process and assist them with learning emotional regulation and achieving cognitive growth.
While meditation provides adults numerous benefits such as less stress and better decision-making skills, children get a different set of perks from this practice.
Let’s look at the top five benefits of meditation for children and why you should introduce kids to a simple daily meditation practice as soon as possible.
1. Meditation Enhances Focus
Noticed how kids are drawn to gadgets, social media, and technology more than we ever were in our youth?
Modern-day demands increasingly challenge us to think and respond more quickly than ever before — and kids are no exception.
Constant stimulation during kids’ waking hours — from the internet, video games, social media, school assignments — demands them to multitask and jump from thought to thought.
While multitasking and juggling many different physical, mental, emotional and social tasks or activities at once may sometimes be a good thing, no doubt:
You want your child to turn their attention completely to one thing at a time…
You want your child to be able to solve complex problems and see projects through to its completion…
You want your child to have the capacity to focus.
A study, by Italian neuroscientist Giuseppe Pagnoni, found that meditation not only changes brain patterns, but it also heightens mental focus that may improve cognitive performance.
In the study, brain scans showed that compared to those who meditate, non-meditators had higher activity in their ventral posteromedial cortex, the region of the brain linked to spontaneous thoughts and mind-wandering.
So the next time your child needs a little boost in focus and clarity, look no further than a simple meditation to function with lazer focus more effectively.
2. Meditation Fosters Self-Esteem And Self-Love
Most of us as kids, at one time another, felt like we are not “good enough.”
Childhood, especially during puberty, can be tough, and in a lot of cases, debilitating on our self-esteem and confidence.
Naturally most of our present insecurities may have stemmed from childhood:
An embarassing situation that haunted you…
Not being the “cool kid” at school…
Not having “that” car…
Being bullied — any childhood situation that imprinted trauma or any negative belief about yourself.
Thankfully meditation provides access to a greater feeling of inner stability and security.
As a practice to quiet your mind, meditation slows down the mind’s activity (self-talk and obsessive thinking) to experience relaxation, inner peace, self-love, and joy.
When you learn to focus on the moment, your fears, self-doubt, and insecurities are transformed.
3. Meditation Relieves Stress For Peak Performance
Stress can begin to impact children at a very young age, and stressful situations affect health and well-being almost immediately.
Demands from academic studies, competition, and always having to “do things right” plays a huge toll on kids’ ability to relax.
Bluntly put, too much stress inhibits peak performance.
Like adults, meditation can help children cope with stresses and traumas by being mindful about present situations and thinking clearly and rationally about them.
When the mind is calm, the body follows.
When the mind is free of tension, it will function at its peak.
Since meditation is known to help kids focus their energies and reduce tensions, overwhelming evidence suggests that it can help them perform better in school. In fact, meditation can have a profound impact on not only academics, but also athletic, creative and social performance.
A University of California, Los Angeles study found that second and third-graders who practiced “mindful” meditation techniques for 30 minutes twice a week for eight weeks had improved behavior and scored higher on tests requiring memory, attention and focus than the non-meditators.
More and more schools are incorporating meditation in their learning programs, and it’s only a matter of time that meditation becomes a norm for education programs.
4. Meditation Supports Healthy Emotional Development
In our fast-paced lifestyle, children are having to face even more “fears” than ever before.
Fears of not being accepted, fears of too much change, fears of losing loved ones, or simply fears of not being “enough.”
We want kids to be able to navigate through phases of insecurity, frustration, and impatience without too much distress.
But prolonged fear-based stress on a child’s emotional development can be debilitating and have long-term repercussions.
Thankfully, meditation allows children to access their natural rhythm of self-awareness and mindfulness — two key components of self-soothing, problem-solving, patience, and facing fears.
By teaching meditation to children, you can help them become aware of this natural state and consequently help them to overcome any obstructive, negative emotions.
5. Meditation Enhances Empathy And Connectedness
It’s commonly known that meditation increases compassion — empathy and compassion directly stems from the awareness state of mind, a distinct outcome of mindfulness meditation.
But there’s now tangible, scientific evidence of how mindfulness meditation increases kindness, compassion, and connectivity among adults and children alike.
In a study at Northeastern University, researchers found that “meditation made people willing to act virtuous — to help another who are suffering — even in the face of a norm not to do so.”
Researchers are uncertain of exactly why meditation heightens empathy and connectedness, but there are two possible reasons.
First, meditation improves children’s attention-span and their ability to focus on specific things in their environment.
Second, meditation creates neural pathways that allows children to see the interconnectedness of human suffering regardless of their relationships. Regular loving-kindness or mindful meditation builds self-love, compassion, and human or environmental connection on multiple levels.
Let’s face it — kids learn differently than adults do.
So an effective approach for kids to meditate often differs from the way adults approach it — and that’s completely fine.
Kids learn by watching, observing, and really soaking in the moment. All eyes are on you, so be sure to set a solid example of how to incorporate meditation into your daily life.
You can start by dedicating a special area in your home or school for a regular meditative practice, one that is comfortable and free of distractions.
Children learn well with games and fun exercises so you can start by playing a game of who can be the quietest, or breathing exercises that incorporate following a fun rhythm or with playful music.
You can also show children how beautiful and interesting silence can be — how quiet time can give perspective and help us reflect on what we’re truly thinking or feeling.
Since children often have a set routine, schedule daily quiet time so they can anticipate incorporating meditation each day. You can start with just 5 minutes per day and gradually increase from there.
In time, and with a dedicated practice, kids will start to look forward to this calming space of quiet and relaxation.
If you’re new to meditation yourself, or you simply want more guidance to help your child start a regular meditation practice, simple guided meditations can ease your child into getting the full benefits of meditation — anytime, and anywhere.
Below are our top 10 favorite guided meditations for kids.
Start off by meditating with them. Remember, kids are highly visual, so allow them to follow your lead. In time, once they get the hang of it, encourage them to try these guided meditations on their own.
And for best results, have your kids try these guided meditations with headphones!
Time: 7.5 Minutes
Enjoy this free meditation for kids during bedtime or any moment they need to relax and find stillness. This winter-themed meditation is guided by an enthusiastic female voice, making it almost story-like. Your kids will imagine themselves as snowmen warming up and relaxing as the sun warms and soothes the tensions and worries they have.
Time: 5 Minutes
This 5-minute meditation is perfect for pre-school kids who are are trying meditation for the first time. Bird imagery, visualizations of the colors of the rainbow, a soothing female voice, and calming music makes it easy to find peace and calm.
Time: 6 Minutes
Annaka Harris has created several guided meditations for children ages 6-10. In this 6-minute mindfulness meditation, Annaka guides kids towards heightened self-awareness and relaxation through simple breathing exercises. A bell is rung every 10 seconds to help kids notice the first moments of breathing, catching the breath right when it starts.
You don’t need to do anything at all. Your body will breathe all by itself, and you can just pay attention to it.
Time: 5 Minutes
Annaka Harris guides kids in this audio meditation to pay attention to surrounding sounds and what it feels like to really listen and be in the moment. After two minutes, Annaka uses a simple bell exercise to heighten their auditory senses to achieve full-awareness of themselves and the environment.
There’s nothing you need to do at all. The sounds happen all on their own, like little surprises.
Time: 7.5 Minutes
Kids feel anxiety and stress just like we all do, and meditation is a quick and easy way to feel safe and secure. This short guided audio meditation led by a female voice and available without background music focuses on the breath and “letting go.” Recommended for kids five years or above.
Time: 18 Minutes
This guided audio meditation uses playful imagery and visualization techniques to access inner peace and joy. The soothing female voice paints a story-like journey of discovering a magic book and experiencing an exciting, magical wonderland. Perfect for kids and the young at heart.
Time: 12 Minutes
Have you ever followed something in nature, along a street, or in your neighborhood, because of the sheer enjoyment and curiosity of where it would lead you to? This audio meditation guides you to achieve full awareness and mindfulness by using a special visualization exercise of following a bouncing ball. Kids will love it. This audio can also be used for sleep to lull your child’s mind into a deep slumber.
Time: 12.5 Minutes
Visit magical landscapes and animals in this meditation adventure for a much needed mental vacation. Kids can select their preferred imagery to enhance their experience. This is a fantastic audio meditation, especially for kids who love animals and nature!
Time: 4.5 Minutes
Modern-day living can often make kids feel like they are caught in a snowstorm wherein the thick of things, they feel stress and can’t think clearly. This guided meditation is great for kids age 3-7 who need a quiet moment to feel peaceful, secure, and relaxed. Calm the snowstorm by having your child tune into beautiful sounds, breathwork, and visualization techniques.
We need to settle the snow storm with our secret trick: our breathing.
Because Music Makes Everything Better
In a world driven by many moving parts and constant demands and stimulation, calmness is truly a gift and music provides an easy escape from the craziness of the real world.
Allow your kids to find inner peace and calmness through these comforting sounds and music. They can simply listen to these tunes, or use them as background music during meditation.
Time: 55 Minutes
Enjoy the relaxing sounds of the sea in a stunning backdrop of a beach in Sardinia, Italy, to access deep stillness and calm. This YouTube video is excellent if your kids have a full hour to unwind and meditate.
Time: 2 Hours 15 Minutes
This 2-hour+ meditation track is comprised of soothing wind chimes and vocals, and the sounds of a gurgling stream. You’ll be lulled into a blissful, deep, meditative state — perfect for bedtime or as you sleep.
Time: 31 Minutes
Inspiring orchestral music enhances all types of meditation in this 31 minute meditation music track. The moving music is reminiscent of your favorite movie soundtrack and allows you to access a deep emotional and contemplative state of mind — great for practicing gratitude and mindfulness.
Time: 14.5 Minutes
Celestial and trance-like, this music for meditation can be used for enhanced focus (i.e. when studying or learning), or to take a moment for mindfulness and self-awareness. Momentary sounds of crashing waves and bubbles, coupled with space-like tones, almost makes this meditation music other-wordly.
Time: 5 Minutes
Have your kids enjoy a moment of calm and relaxation with this beautiful meditation music track. Rich nature imagery and soothing sounds instantly brings the mind to a state of peace and serenity.
Time: 51 Minutes
Calming music is an excellent way to help calm the mind and rest the body, and can be enjoyed by everyone of all ages — even babies. This lullaby-like meditation music is perfect to play during your baby’s bedtime — in the crib, or in your arms.
Time: 3-5 Minutes (Each Track)…
Even a couple minutes of peace and tranquility can bring a whole new wave of relaxation, perpsective, and positive mind-set. Gentle modern classical piano music by Russian composer, Dmitry Evgrafov, can be enjoyed as seven individual 2-3 minute tracks or in its entirety as an album.
Time: 4 Minutes
This playful playlist of Sahaja Yoga songs is an amazing creation for bonding with your child — love, innocence, and joy flow through each word. Substitute common nursery rhymes with these joyful songs. You can access the lyrics here.
Mother, you are my guru. Mother, I am my own guru.
Time: 1 Minute
Another fun song in the series of Sahaja Yoga music aimed for enhanced attention and self-awareness.
Pure attention is needed to silence the mind. Pure attention is needed to see all the beauty behind.
Time: 1.5 Minutes
This meditation song will instantly put a smile on your child’s face (and on yours). Especially good for times of stress or anxiety, it’s a quick song, but it’s a sure way to lift your spirit and your soul.