8 Tips To Get Your Child to Meditate the Anxiety Away
I discovered just how powerful meditation is for children, when my daughter found me in the last moments of meditating. I noticed that she looked a bit distraught, so I told her to join me. I helped her find a comfortable Savasana and took her on a three minute guided meditation. She enjoyed a gentle journey into the quiet spot in her mind. She stayed there a few seconds then I gently brought her back. Afterward, she sat up, looked at me with clear bright eyes and said, “Wow, I feel really relaxed and happy. We should do this all the time!” She immediately jumped up and skipped away, leaving me with the thought; When it come to happiness, there is no medication more powerful than meditation!
Anxiety, depression, ADD, ADHD and a handful of learning disabilities, hinder one’s happiness and ability to function at their optimal level. The same is true with children! Having lived with anxiety and ADD since early childhood, I have discovered that the mind has the power to re-route itself through consistent meditation.
What is meditation and how can I get my restless young one to sit long enough to do it?
The official definition of meditation:
Meditation is a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself.
Basically, through meditation, your child can re-route the neurons in their brain to neutralize unwanted behaviors and emotions.
This is over-simplified yes, however, the results are both proven and astonishing. According to DEEPAK CHOPRA MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing:
“One aspect of anxiety is racing thoughts that won’t go away. Meditation helps with this part of the problem by making the overactive mind quiet. Instead of buying into your fearful thoughts, you can start identifying with the silence that exists between every mental action. Through regular practice, you experience that you are not simply your thoughts and feelings. You can detach yourself from these to rest in your own being. This involves remaining centered, and if a thought or outside trigger pulls you out of your center, your meditation practice allows you to return there again.”
Imagine teaching your child the ability to master their mind, versus being a victim to its frequent irregularities.
8 Tips To Get Your Child to Meditate the Anxiety Away
1. Show, don’t tell. Your child will do as you do, not as you say. If you want your child to meditate, have them join you while YOU meditate.
2. Pick an appropriate time and place. You know your child’s rhythm, so develop a time and place when he or she is removed from distraction. Find a quiet room and turn off or unplug anything with a screen (T.V.’s, computers, cell phones, tablets). A morning meditation before school could be just what your young student needs to experience a focused day. An evening meditation will allow your child to slip into a restful and regenerative sleep.
3. Make it short and sweet. Imagine that your child’s attention span is half their age in minutes. Therefore a 4-year-old has about 2-minute of meditation in them!
4. Breathe. Most people get stuck right here! Because breathing is so automatic, thinking about breathing is so boring!!! But, the secret behind focusing on breathing is that by doing so, you are controlling your ability to focus. If you can get your kid to experience what focus feels like, they are more inclined to reproduce that experience on their own!
Pranayama technique: Sama Vritti – Inhale through the nose for the count of 5, then exhale through the nose for the count of 5. Do 5 rounds of Sama Vritti to calm the nervous system, increase focus, and reduce anxiety. Once they can master 5 counts, increase the count.
5. Guide them on a fun journey. Guided meditation is a great way to capture your child’s attention long enough to soothe their nervous system and reduce anxiety. Make sure you link their breath into the journey. If I were attempting to get a 10 year old interested in guided meditation, I’d try something like this:
Imagine you are a dragon, flying through the clouds, overlooking the kingdom below. The only way that you can fly is to flap your wings. And the only way to flap your wings is to take a slow deep inhale and exhale. As you are breathing, you are getting closer to Dragon Mountain. Dragon Mountain is 100 miles away, and once you get there, you will be able to breathe fire! You have nothing to worry about. Your wings are so big, that with every deep breath you take, you travel 10 miles. (BTW, That’s 10 deep and deliberate breaths you got your kid to take.)
6. Mantras are a great way to instill calmness, relaxation, and an overall sense of well being, without the use of medication. Mantras have been in use for centuries because they work. Mantras can to be spoken, whispered, or shouted. They should be short so that your child can remember them as they would a nursery rhyme. Here are a few of my favorite mantras:
I am grateful
I am calm
I am safe
I am happy now
7. If your child won’t stay still, do a moving meditation! Yoga is an excellent way to teach your child the ability to meditate while moving. Roll out the yoga mats and teach your child a simple sun salutation sequence and practice regularly with them. Linking each movement with its corresponding inhalation and exhalation relaxes both the body and the brain!
8. You are what you eat! Before you attempt to meditate, prepare the brain with what it needs to run smoothly. Avoid processed foods, sugary snacks, soft drinks, and any food that triggers their anxiety-like artificial food dyes. Meditation is an opportunity for your child’s mind to self regulate the effects of anxiety, fear, depression, and many learning disabilities. Don’t sully their brain with sugar, empty carbs, and caffeine (all of which cause an array of cognitive disturbances) before they practice mastering their mind.