Close your eyes for a second (if comfortable for you and not dangerous). Imagine someone meditating. What do you see? Likely someone seated cross-legged, with their hands in a certain shape and rested on their thighs, maybe even humming a certain vibrational tone. This certainly is meditation for some people at some times. Yet meditation is simply structured mindfulness — a use of a particular technique or tool to reach a certain state of mindfulness. We like to think of this as big “M” mindfulness, versus little “m” mindfulness — which is simply bringing a mindful quality to everyday activities: washing hands, eating, walking, and even just breathing.
For many people, that image of a cross-legged yogi humming a chant comes with a mental and emotional idea that meditation is too complex and too difficult for them. Yet it doesn’t have to be inaccessible, even for young children, if structured and presented in an accessible, straight-forward way. Remember, “meditation” just means a set, codified approach to mindfulness, and that structure doesn’t need to be complicated! That is particularly meaningful with young ones; presenting structured mindfulness in an accessible, fun way (yes, it can even be fun) could make a big difference in their well-being and development, and even begin a life-long affinity for mindfulness (with all of the benefits that brings!).
Check out our guide for a simple Three-Step Meditation (ages 3 and up)!
Healthychildren.org shares how with children more and more busy all the time, breaks to refocus and recenter are important — one reason among others that the American Academy of Pediatrics (or AAP) recommends that children regularly practice of structured mindfulness. Forbes Health Writer Alice G. Walton details additional evidence for the benefits of meditation for kids, on various measures (such as school performance, social/emotional skills, coping with difficult home situations and more). Interestingly, one study showed that meditating together as a family makes these benefits even stronger.
Putting it into action:
- Parents/Caretakers: Pin up the Three-Step Meditation in your child’s (or childrens’) bedroom(s) or playroom(s), and practice it with them 1-3 times a day. Doing it as a transition, such as before cleaning up for a meal or settling in to do schoolwork, can be effective. Who knows, they may like it so much that they ask for it more! Try to minimize outer distractions (a TV or radio on, for example) while practicing. Notice how they respond in the moment and in the longer-term.
- Teachers: Pin up the Three-Step Meditation in your classroom — maybe a few of them in separate locations, if it’s a large one. Doing it as a transition, such as before switching subjects or traveling together as a class to another location, can be effective. Practice it together as a class 1-3 times a day. Who knows, your students may like it so much that they ask for it more! Try to minimize outer distractions (such as a messy classroom — it might be helpful to have students do a quick clean-up of toys, books, and other materials first). Notice how your students respond in the moment and in the longer-term.
What’s coming next week?
Bringing a mindful approach to interacting with others can set kids up for a lifetime of healthier relationships, as well as just feel better for all involved.
Let us know how it’s going! Tag us @flowandgrowyoga on instagram and use #selfcaresaturday when you post pictures or videos practicing! Or reply here to tell us about your experiences! Photos are always welcome!
Want to learn more about teaching mindfulness & self-care to children?
Integrating Mindfulness into the School Day: This course explores how to practice little m mindfulness. Whether you are working in a school or not, this workshop will help you create a structure around mindfulness, breathing, and self-regulation in your work with children. Take it live online, or catch the replay
Self-Care for Children: In this course, we explore a framework for self-care for children, while examining your own practices. Take it live, or catch the replay!
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