I’m sure you’ve heard lots of talk about the benefits of meditation for your health and happiness, but have you considered the benefit it might have on our children and youth?

Whether we choose to believe it or not children are under lots of stress. Whether it’s academic, social stress or stress stemming from the home, their worries may seem small and insignificant but they are large and important to them. As they grow, their stressors only grow and sometimes as parents we unknowingly project our stresses onto them. More than 1/3 of elementary aged kids are worried about money!

Mental health is tragically overlooked and underfunded in America. We’ve got a bunch of emotionally filled children who turn into angry, emotionally unstable adults because they aren’t given the tools they need to deal with their stress. Meditation and mindfulness are tools you can give to your child that can help them cope with their stressors no matter the size.

Meditation has been shown to reduce anxiety, build positive peer relationships, enhance anger management skills and help kids learn to relax. It can help them focus, and think more clearly. Where would we be now if all children were taught how to clear their mind and sort through their emotions clearly instead of bottling them up inside?

How to Lead Your Children in Meditation

If you’re thinking, “I have no idea where to even start” don’t worry, it’s actually very simple and you can start with children as young as two years old! Have them sit cross legged or lay down flat (whatever is most comfortable) and tell them to imagine something. It can be a garden, a room that they create in their own mind, a mountain, a beach. You can have them imagine the night sky and the twinkling stars. Give them a place or a thing of their own. They can imagine that they have their own star that shines healing, happy light on them. It can be whatever color, texture that they like. Have them exist in their own world for as long as they will sit still for. For the very young kids, this may only be a few minutes, but it still benefits them! It may help to create your story ahead of time and read it to them or find one online to use. When you speak, have it be a low, slow, relaxing tone. Leave spaces of silence in between thoughts. When you are finished gradually bring them back to consciousness and give them time to come back on their own.

If you are able to add this into your daily routine you are giving your child so many positive tools to deal with daily stressors and emotions but if you can’t fit it in every day, do it as many days as you can! I did this once with my nieces. I sent them to their secret garden and told them that whenever they were upset, stressed or overwhelmed they could go to their special garden that they created. The younger niece later told my mom that her older sister upset her but it’s okay because she has a special secret garden she can go to. Kids take in more than you think. She was totally goofing off during this meditation time but she ended up taking a lot away from the experience in the end. It’s the most rewarding feeling when you witness the impact it can have on a child.

Every child deserves to have their own secret garden

meditation

In my experience, what we need is a calm mind and warm-heartedness provides a basis for that. That’s how we make ourselves happy as individuals in families, local communities and nations. I believe that if we can train those who are young today in these qualities the world will be a more peaceful place later in this century.

-Dalai Lama