A Guide to Help Children Relax and Become less Stressed
Meditation for kids, can help children to overcome feelings of stress or despair. Many students find that school-related stressors such as low grades, overly challenging classroom settings, athletic requirements, peer relationships, conflicts with others, exams, and clashes with teachers cause undue stress.
Although occasional or moderate stress is for the most part healthy, children exposed to high stress levels over time can damage or impair cognition. Learning cannot take place when the mind is stressed.
Some children may feel emotionally hijacked when they have an argument with a friend, receive disappointing marks or don’t understand lessons. Daniel Goleman explores the idea of “emotional hijacking”. He explains it happens in a split second timeframe. It then triggers a specific reaction prior to the thinking brain (neocortex) having assessed what is happening. this often results in actions that may not have been a good idea, had the neocortex come first! The amygdala also plays an important role here.
Steps for Meditating with your Kids
Meditation for kids provides parents with a way to cool down and bring into more focus to their child. Meditation provides parents with a way to help kids cool down, clear their minds, and have better concentration.
1. These activities can be done at desks or students may prefer to lie down on the floor or get into a more comfortable position.
2. Ask students to close their eyes. Explain you are going to ask them to imagine they are in another place where they feel calm and happy.
3. Ask the students to breathe in deeply. Breathe in. Breathe out. Continue deep breathing for one minute. It is a good idea to play soft classical music or nature sounds in the background.
4. Begin to read the meditation exercises in a slow, even voice taking time between the words or phrases.
5. At the end of the meditation you may wish to continue with the deep breathing.
6. Ask children to open their eyes. Stand up slowly and stretch their arms and feel how relaxed their body feels.
Scripts for Meditating
Try these scripts to help children relax and reflect. Sit quietly or lay down on the floor. Play soft instrumental music in the background.
Meditation for Kids 1
Close your eyes…..breath in deeply…..relax your body…..imagine a warm, day with rain pattering down lightly…listen to the rain dropping one by one, slowly and evenly from the clouds above…. Breath in and look above you to the sky…feel the slowness of the weather…imagine the sky filled with a rainbow……see the vibrant colors …see how it lights up the sky…imagine yourself riding the rainbow and grabbing the calm night air……release all your tension as you find the calm.
Meditation for Kids 2
Relax…close your eyes…imagine you are a flower growing quietly in the garden …breath in deeply…breath out all your stress and tension …for you are a little flower bud bursting out of the soil…imagine your pushing through the soil around all the other flowers….reach reach and release … out you come and are growing tall and proud under the sunlight…breath out again…and breath in deeply full of dreams from colorful garden bed……
Meditation for Kids 3
Relax your arms…..relax your toes…..breathe in…..breathe out..feel you fingers and toes getting ready for a journey to a calmer place….feel a breeze across your face….lift your hair into the air…..feel all the aches and pains of today life away…breathe in and breathe out….you are in a calm and happy place…you are feeling well…….roll your neck left and right….picture yourself free and calm racing in the wind….
Preschool mindfulness always starts with the breath! You’ve heard the phrase “it’s as natural as breathing,” describing an activity that can be mastered easily and quickly. Yet, breathing fully and deeply is absent from the day to day lives of many kids and adults.
In past generations, deep breathing was more natural. Adults walked to work, to markets and to social gatherings. They worked actively on their gardens and houses. Children walked to school and ran around in fields for fun and exploration
In today’s family, we almost have to schedule time to do activities that use our full breathing, like soccer practice or going to the gym. However, learning to breathe more fully greatly improves your overall quality of life, giving you more energy and stamina, and better mental clarity and emotional balance.
Learning deep breathing together with your child can be fun, and it’s not difficult to get them involved. Children love the physical challenge of deep breathing, especially when they see how it helps them in sports, dance and swimming. Fuller breathing helps them through drowsiness at school in the afternoon and during homework time, too!
Here are deep breathing activities you can start with at home:
All kids like to count how long they can hold their breath. Unfortunately they often take the breath in too fast and sudden, almost like swallowing air. This is not often a deep breath and doesn’t help increase capacity.
Instead, try a counting breath exercise to learn breath regulation, sitting straight and comfortably, breath in to the count of four. Hold the breath to a count of four, then exhale to the count of four. Finally hold the breath out to the count count of four before starting the cycle again with the in breath.
You’ll find it challenging to maintain a steady pace! When you and your child can comfortably and easily regulate your breath to the count of four, increase to the count of eight, sixteen, and so on.
Sun salutation with correct breathing
The 12-pose sun salutation is typically the introductory exercise for new Yoga students. If you and your child know sun salutation, use it to promote deeper breathing. Traditionally each position is paired with inhaling, exhaling or inhaling-and-exhaling. Thus you would inhale-and-exhale for the first position (standing with palms pressed together in front of your chest). Then you would inhale deeply as you bring your hands straight up over your head and bending slightly back for the second position, and exhaling as you bend forward to touch your toes for the third.
In classical yoga training focusing on the breath is actually more emphasized than the correct position. In fat, you;ll notice that the positions become easier, and you become more limber the more you concentrate on the breath. Refer to a yoga manual or online resource to review the positions and the breathing instructions.
Tadasana at night outside
Children from preschoolers to teens will enjoy Tadasana, as it is an active yoga movement that appeals to kid in all of us. Stretch your arms overhead, then lace the fingers together, palms turned upwards. Drop your head fully back and look at your hands above you. Now stand on your toes and start walking around on tiptoes. Keep walking around for a minute, gradually working up to two or three minutes.
To stay in balance you will need to focus on your breathing, not on your steps or your hands. It’s a very interesting lesson in how our bodies work! To make this activity even more special try doing it outside at night when the stars are out. Again, you must focus on your breathing to maintain balance – and the stars are quite the distraction. Coach your child that they can see and be aware of the stars, yet be focused on breathing. Then, this deep breathing activity doubles as a training in mindfulness.
If your child wants to, let them test how much more stamina they have, perhaps in activities like swimming underwater or running long distance. Seeing their progress in their own goals will further encourage your kids to keep the focus on better and fuller breathing.
Preschool Mindfulness – Mind your words! Conscientious Speaking to Bring up a Compassionate Preschooler
How do you turn your child’s emotional meltdown into a teaching moment? You don’t have to be a zen master to use a mindful approach to supporting your preschooler’s social-emotional learning. You really just need to learn about communication styles that support a caring, nonjudgmental environment. Within this safe environment, your child can have the space to be aware of his or her feeling, learn to identify specific internal reactions, and learn how to manage emotions.
You can help your child be well adjusted, confident and compassionate at a very young age, sending them to their life experiences on a strong foundation of self awareness.The mindful communication habits you adopt now with your young children will result in more resilient and cooperative kids as they grow, and more of their day to day experiences are away from you, at school, activities and play dates. You will see their self- awareness blossom into other awareness.
There are things you can do to prepare for a transformation in your parenting communication style. Start with really getting how differentiating the feelings your child feels versus their behavior. Acknowledging their feelings helps your child feel safe and loved. That’s always step number one. You can get to the behavior later, unless it is harmful. But even then, there are peaceful ways to address a child’s negative behaviors.
In addition, be aware of the effects of cadence. Speak slower, in moderate tones. Make your high notes not so high and lows not so low. For example, when parents sound too cheery, it can rings false to children eroding their trust little by little. On the other end of the spectrum, when your voice sounds as a scolding tone, it can become frightening.
Finally think about adding the art of storytelling to your parenting repertoire. As parents and elders knew in past generations, a well timed story can really reach deeply into a child’s inner awareness, and become a beloved lifelong lesson. To be a great storyteller you definitely need to be nonreactive in the situation. This might seem difficult at first, but it is also a wonderful mindfulness training for you.
Below are some ideas for phrasing your communication to your child in ways that model compassion and support their social-emotional learning:
Instead of “Stop crying!”
- I’m sorry you are crying. Can you tell me what is making you cry?
- This is more helpful than asking why he or she is “sad,” because the child may be crying from anger or frustration.
In place of “Can you please stop shouting!”
- That was quite loud! What happened?
Sometimes your child might hit another child.Of course first make sure the other child is OK and separate them. How can you talk with the child who did the hitting?
- Your brother got hurt when you hit him.
- Be patient. Make sure the child can see you looking calm and concerned.
- During their explanation be fully listening and nonreactive. This immediately will calm the child.
Sometimes your child urgently insists on something they want or don’t want, for example, I want to go to the park right now. If this is not the time for the park. before “yes” or “no,” try the following.
- Gently reflect the child’s words back, without the emphasis or over excitement: You want to go to the park now.
- Wait for their reactions, and appropriately, respectfully reflect back their words
- Again, this will reduce the excitement and give your child space to think and consider when you say “no, we cannot right now” or explain when the trip to the park will be.
Overall, you are creating a space where it is peaceful, where your child has the opportunity to notice their feelings and express them. Over time, you will see how the expression of their feelings demonstrates their growing self-awareness.
Also to remain mindful, nonjudgmental and compassionate check in with your own feelings from time to time. If you empathize too much, you may get carried away by your child’s hurts or happiness and lose the opportunity for promoting emotional balance. Likewise, if you are annoyed or reject the child’s reactions, then you will just confuse the child. They will get overwhelmed trying to deal with you and with their own feelings.
When you practice compassionate communication with children, you may bring to the surface your own, perhaps buried experiences as a child. Allow this to happen, and even share some of your remembered feelings with your child when appropriate. This will make your words and teaching even more authentic to your child and bring you closer to each other.
Parenting kids in the tween years brings many wonderful and many challenging experiences.
The ups and downs of tween’s behavior is legendary (it’s the stuff you can remind them when their children reach this age). However, when their energy and mood fluctuations start to upset your balance, it’s time to consciously work on staying present and nonreactive.
Let’s look at some common ways in which parents leave the state of calm presence and enter a more frazzled or disrupted emotional state with their kids.
You become too entwined in their moods
To be helpful to your tween, understand the difference between empathy and compassion. With empathy, you can actually feel another’s pain or suffering. That’s because empathy activates areas of your brain to mirror the other person’s feelings and responses to their triggers. Although it’s a noble trait, too much empathy with your child can lead you toward intense distress of your own.
The alternative – remaining compassionate and at peace
Compassion is a cultivated, evolved approach that, like empathy, is based on warmth, caring and seeing your child’s suffering is much like our own. However, compassion is highly aware, alert and nonjudgmental. Compassion affords you the opportunity to be fully present to another’s pain without having to be in pain yourself.
You dismiss their issues, wants and concerns
Learn to distinguish non-reaction from non-response. No matter how tiresome and seemingly silly your child’s issues are, they genuinely need you to interact with them and guide them wisely. Shutting them down or shutting them out is not often helpful.
The alternative – observing without judgment or attachment
You won’t be able to find or help find solutions to all of your child’s issues, but can support them in solving their own problems. Rather than ignoring or belittling their concerns, commit to staying present. This means always being able to hear and listen, even the same thing repeatedly. Many times, all a child – or adult – needs is someone who will listen. Moreover, your state of compassionate presence allows you to listen and interact in ways that create the environment for others to untangle their issues and find their own resolutions.
You force your own way
As an adult with responsibilities you’re trained to get thing done efficiently. Drawing upon your work ethic and experience can be a great way to teach your child – as long as you stay present to the teaching moment. Instead it is all too easy to enforce parental authority to save time on completing tasks, all under the well-meaning phrase “it’s for their own good.”
The alternative – slow down and be committed to self observation
A commitment to compassionate self observation is necessary to promote your own mindfulness, peace of mind and well being. This can sometimes mean gracefully and maturely retracting harsh words or demanding tones, but retaining the opportunity to teach life skills and lessons to your tween. Refrain from judging yourself harshly, and then recommit to maintaining peaceful, productive communication.
Practice in other ways first. Mindful with plants or food. The same way that you don’t force in your meditation but gently return to focus from a distraction or interruption
Mindfulness is self training for a lifetime
Real patience and loving kindness
Wisdom is the result
The environmental energy changes
Child raising is a special kind of training in the mindfulness journey
Be able to separate from reactions to child’s behavior and words
Your mindfulness meditation training teaches you how to simply observe physical reactions in your body associated with your emotional states. Mindfulness gives you more freedom, or space between your outer experiences, the thinking and emotional patterns generated your inner circuitry.
You’ll experience more moments of being able to choose your response, rather than just reacting.
You can cultivate and strengthen your own compassion through simple mindfulness practices.
- Start to become attuned to your own physical changes when the person you support is experiencing distress. Bring closer attention to the details of your physical response. Has your breathing changed. Is any part of your body feeling tension or discomfort? Redirect attention away from identifying or labeling your own emotions. Consciously regulate your breath and tighten and release, or stretch areas of tension.
- Practice non judgmentally observing your thoughts and feelings to exercise and increase your self-compassion. Rather than disowning, ignoring or suppressing the feelings, you allow them to emerge without shame, in a safe space.
Through mindfulness practice, you will gain important self-awareness about how and where stress and frustration physically reside in your body. You’ll learn to break cycles of repetitive thoughts and feelings by learning to focus on the physical sensations with nonjudgmental attention and regulated breath work techniques. You’ll train your reactions to your inner experiences to turn from self-judgment to self-compassion. In this way, you’ll cultivate the ability to remain cheerfully and lovingly present to your child all through the awesome tween years!