MEDITATION FOR CHILDREN: PRACTICES AND BENEFITS
“If every eight-year-old were taught meditation, we would be able to eliminate violence in the world within a generation.”
In this article we discover the benefits of meditation for children and some exercises to introduce them to the practice in the right way, involving them actively.
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We often delude ourselves that children are immune to stress: in reality, they experience strong emotions and, from the very first social experiences, they know competition. It is true that children live in the present, have no worries and totally identify with what they are doing in the moment, but it is a period of life that does not last long: early, usually with the start of school, children also start to worry , to feel anxieties and pressures, to shift the thought towards the past and the future. This is why meditation for children can become a pleasant and very useful habit even during childhood, with clearly visible implications on the ability to concentrate and manage emotions.
Every small child who begins to manifest himself seeks the approval and recognition of his parents at the same time as a small plant seeks water, light and air. When a quality is not accepted and recognized, perhaps because the parents want the child be it so or there, the child has nothing left but to modify himself, repressing or denying this unaccepted quality, because he needs their love and recognition.
The continuous repression of his own emotional qualities leads the child to get used to living with certain emotions within himself for a long period of time and this tendency becomes a personality trait as well described by Dr. Joe Dispenza’s study, you can deepen it HERE. At that point, the others will describe that child as ‘angry’, ‘resentful’ or ‘critical’.
WHY MEDITATION HELPS CHILDREN
In our modern society the problems described above are exacerbated by social media (which amplify the effects of bullying and social pressure), excessive stimulation by the media and technology (which leads to greater restlessness and less ability to attention) and a climate of growing fear (nourished by the current state of the world and the anxieties of parents).
Let’s take school as an example: What happens when a pupil misbehaves at school? He is punished, sent by the principal or suspended.
But is it really useful in improving the mental state of pupils? The punishment often consists in standing in a corner staring at the wall or something else, but it certainly does not work to make people reflect on their behavior, indeed it is counterproductive because it does nothing but feed the climate of fear and lower the self-esteem of the person. baby.
In this context, it is our responsibility as parents and educators – and as a society – to teach new generations self-help tools that can truly make a difference.
“Rewarding and punishment are the lowest form of education.”
MEDITATION IN SCHOOLS
Fortunately, we are witnessing a worldwide movement that aims to permanently integrate meditation into the school system. In some American and UK schools, meditation is already practiced as an adjunct to physical education programs, in others it is taught in lieu of disciplinary detention.
Prof. Robert W. Coleman of Baltimore Elementary School has devised something different for misbehaving students: meditation.
Instead of punishing children with punishment or by sending them to the principal’s office, the Baltimore school now has a room called the “Mindful Moment Room” … aka the meditation room.
The room has nothing to do with a punishment room. Instead, it’s filled with purple lamps, decorations, and fluffy pillows. Misbehaving children are encouraged to sit in the room and go through practices such as breathing or meditation, helping them calm their mind and center. They are also invited to talk about what happened.
Among the meditative practices, that of mindfulness in particular lends itself to being taught in a simple way, starting from the beginning of school. The word mindfulness means “mindfulness”. The ability to be present to oneself is one of our innate abilities. If you want to know more about the practice of Mindfulness, I invite you to read the article on the blog
Childhood and adolescence are important developmental stages that build the foundation for mental health in adults. In recent literature, mindfulness-based school programs that use age-appropriate techniques have demonstrated a range of social, cognitive and emotional benefits for elementary and middle school students.
Cultivating awareness along the educational path:
- Promotes creativity
- Develop concentration
- Improves school performance
- Improves sports performance
- Develop emotional intelligence
- Develop mental health and well-being in children.
HOW TO TEACH MINDFULNESS MEDITATION TO CHILDREN
Mindfulness for children has as its main objective to arouse their curiosity, their attention. Making sure that their sense of wonder never ends, as well as their interest in connecting with the outside from a more relaxed, more responsive and self-confident inside.
Teaching children is very different from teaching adults. Children have less patience, less attention span, and little self-control. On the other hand, they have greater imagination, a sense of playfulness and learn quickly through good example.
The first thing to take into consideration is the age group we are addressing, which also corresponds to a very specific learning style.
Meditation for young children (1-3 years) is more like a “conscious movement” or a ‘creative game’ than a real practice. While in the age group from 3 to 5, children begin to pay attention to stories, so for example, you could invent a fairy tale starring a pet or one of their favorite toys that embarks on a journey through their body to explore energy.
On the other hand, meditative music and recorded meditations can have a profoundly calming effect on children aged 6 and up, but the preference is personal. The most important thing when teaching children to meditate is to present the practices in a more interesting, fun and engaging way. Never allow it to get boring for them. Make it seem like a pleasant activity, like play, and the children will want to do it again.