Considerations When Meditating With Children
People can relax and meditate at any age and teaching children to meditate can provide them with a valuable experience which can be carried with them throughout their lives. There are however, a few things to consider before teaching your child to meditate.
Guide Your ChildFirstly, for the very young, it is best to avoid pushing them into adopting specific meditation positions. Rather, guide them into positions suitable for them. Lying down is fine.
At a very early age – from baby to toddler – it is perhaps enough to simply have them around you when you meditate, teaching them purely to respect the silence, yet letting them go with whatever mood takes them. If they have a fit of the giggles let them ride it out. Being over prescriptive will lead them to naturally dismiss the exercise ad they will soon come to respect and appreciate meditation as a special time in any case.
As children get older they will become more questioning of what they are doing. Let them do this and be ready to answer their questions objectively. If you meditate for spiritual reasons, explain your faith, but be careful not to impose your beliefs on your children. They will come to respect them as they get older and are liable to be thankful to you for taking the time to teach them powerful relaxation techniques, whether or not they follow your spiritual calling.
As your child reaches their teens they may get to a stage of dismissing outright much of what you say and do! This is perfectly natural and it is worth at this point letting them find their own way, pointing out that the spiritual/developmental path is entirely a personal one. If they wish to know more simply guide them in the right direction.
Remember above all that everyone’s experience of meditation is different!
Exercises for ChildrenIf approached with an open mind teaching your children to meditate can be intensely rewarding for you and for them.
Many of the meditation exercises detailed on this site can be taught to children, remembering always to keep the teachings simple for younger kids. Meditation with music can be particularly engaging for children of any age, as can active/dynamic meditation (see related articles), although in the case of the latter it may be worth reducing the time scale in order to maintain your child’s interest.
Getting your child to partake in any of the exercises will be easy enough providing that they are relatively calm to begin with. The key is to gradually, over time, get them to appreciate the sensation of living purely in the moment. Complex philosophy will possibly be of little use here. Rather, lead them into a position or situation where they are living in the moment and then gently point out to them what they have been doing afterwards. It is worth remembering that many children live in the moment anyway, much of the time. Indeed across religions there are teachings to this effect – most prominently in the Gospels, where Jesus urges his followers to be more ‘childlike’!
However, kids like anyone else are prone to stress in the fast paced society we live in and teaching them meditation techniques on a level they will appreciate is a worthwhile pursuit and one that can bring the family closer together.
Finally, in teaching meditation to children, you may discover something of what you yourself are lacking – that childlike element to which spirituality aims!