Childhood used to be a simple, uncomplicated time. You just send the kiddos outside to play or arranged playdates with friends. No longer. These days children are bombarded with stimuli: the Internet, screens, over-scheduling of activities, extended school days, and information overflow to the max. Their lives are super busy, and they can experience stress just like we can.
How Do You Know If Your Child Is Stressed?
One of the most obvious ways to know if your child is stressed is if they have a hard time falling asleep. Think about it. Children today sleep an hour less each night than children did 25 years ago. Since getting the right amount of sleep improves behavior, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health, ensuring that children get the right amount of sleep is essential. Other signs of stress in children include stomach aches, headaches, hyperactivity, and ticks.
A great way to help children deal with stress is meditation. It’s also an excellent way to help children learn how to unwind and unplug after a busy day and cope with anxiety. This helps prepare them for a peaceful night’s sleep. Even better, you don’t have to be a meditation expert to get started.
1. Start with Mini-Meditations
Teaching your children how to meditate may seem like a huge task, especially if you are not a meditator yourself. You and your children can try mini-meditation sessions.
Because they are mini, they take anywhere from one to ten minutes to do, and you can do them anywhere. Teach your child to take a few deep breaths when they feel stressed, this lets the body know it is resetting. For children, I recommend no longer than five minutes.
2. Try a Yoga Class for Children
Since children like to move, yoga is a great way to help them learn the basics of meditation. Try to find a children’s yoga class near you, and most children’s yoga classes include time for meditation and relaxation.
Take the class with your child, if you can, so that you can practice yoga at home. If your child has trouble sleeping, try some of these yoga poses for better sleep. I recommend the child’s pose, reclining twist, and happy baby pose.
3. Active Meditation
Many kids have a hard time sitting still, and a yoga class may be too much for them. In that case, try active meditation. Having difficulty sitting still is also a sign of anxiety. The goal is to focus the mind while engaging in physical activity. The activity doesn’t have to be physically challenging. It can be as simple as putting a puzzle together or coloring in a coloring book.
4. Mindful Breathing
Mindfulness breathing gives children tools to calm down their bodies and relax their minds. By focusing on the breath, children learn to bring their attention to their breath when their thoughts start to wander. This helps them to relax their minds and also helps them concentrate at school.
5. Deep Breathing in Stressful Situations
Teaching your children to breathe their way through stressful situations gives them a tool they can use their entire life. When they get anxious, nervous, or overwhelmed, deep breathing can help bring them back to neutral.
By teaching this technique at home, your child will learn how to use it at difficult times during the day. As your child gets more experienced with the method, they can make the sequences longer.
6. Meditating with Mantras for Children
Help your child tap into the power of meditation mantras. Help your child choose a mantra that speaks to them. By repeating the same sentence or even a few words over and over can help your child learn to meditate. Adjust the mantra as needed so that it remains meaningful. Have your child say it with their eyes closed.
7. Bedtime Meditation
This is especially helpful for children who have trouble sleeping. Create a calm, peaceful mood in your child’s bedroom with gentle music, soft lighting, and aromatherapy. Have them practice any of the breathing techniques I’ve discussed. Or they can repeat their mantra as they fall asleep.
Try one or all of these meditations to help your child deal with stress and anxiety so common in today’s world. This will give them tools to cope with whatever comes their way.