We pay a lot of attention to the physical health and well-being of ourselves and our children, but mental health is something that doesn’t always get the TLC it deserves. Visiting children’s museums is a unique way to let your kids take care of their most important organ, their brain, by giving them an opportunity for unstructured play and a chance to use their interactive imaginations.
While being active and playing is vital to the success of a child’s growth, it is just as important to slow down and focus on mental health. A 2016 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that implementing meditative practices in children’s everyday routines correlates with improved mental health, coping abilities, and self-regulation.
What is meditation?
Practicing meditation requires the brain to intentionally focus on one thing, breathing, for example, and to be aware of that thing. Your mind will wander, (and that’s okay!), however having the ability to realize your focus has drifted and then put your attention back to that breath is precisely what meditation is.
Meditation can be as easy as taking a couple minutes a day for intentionally focusing your attention on breathing. The two most common methods of meditation are mindfulness and concentration.
According to a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics on mind-body therapies in children, mindfulness aims to enhance your ability to be purposefully aware of emotional, cognitive, and sensory experiences during particular parts of the day. Mindfulness has been found to improve mental health symptoms such as stress when implemented as programs for youth to reduce stress.
Where mindfulness focuses on the practice of awareness in general, concentration meditation takes your attention to one specific thing, like a word or object, to encourage relaxation in the moment.
Kids and Meditation
Children are usually not so keen on sitting still for long periods of time, so meditation may not sound appealing to your gaggle of little gigglers. That’s okay! You can still find ways to implement mindfulness into your child’s everyday routine that won’t take away from their enthusiasm for running around exuding energy.
Begin with introducing your kiddos to movement-based meditation in short blocks of time. Choose activities where kids can be active but also have the time and space to be thinking about their actions and how their bodies are moving. Engaging in meditation, even for a couple minutes a day, can help kids function more clearly in their everyday lives. This will be beneficial in the future as they build their emotional intelligence.
Meditating and mindfulness are brain exercises that could greatly benefit your kid’s developmental growth. Being aware of your child’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. Due to meditation’s tendency to decrease stress hormones, a child’s involvement in this daily activity may provide them a more relaxed lifestyle. Not only will your kiddos benefit from this quick daily activity, but you will as well by knowing you are teaching them a practice that will positively impact their lives…and maybe increase your sanity along the way.
Meditation Resources for Kids:
Sesame Street “Breathe, Think, Do”: Phone App (Google Play, iTunes)
Super Stretch Yoga: https://adventuresofsuperstretch.com/ (Google Play, iTunes)
Suggested length of meditation:
Preschool – a few minutes a day
Grade school – 3-10 minutes twice a day
written by: Noelle Hausen