It challenging to find the time or space to meditate when parenting a young child. One solution is to have your child meditate with you. This can allow you to make time for your self care while also teaching your child valuable skills. However, you will need to make some modifications to have this be a peaceful experience.
Meditating with Young Children
For children five and under, it will be difficult for them to sit still for any length of time. Even a few seconds might be the most you can expect. Adjust your expectations and try to remain flexible in your approach. Most experts agree that by six years of age, children should be able to sit still for one minute and increase by one minute per year of age. So, age six would be one minute, age seven is two minutes and so on.
Kids Will Be Kids
It’s important to be patient as you work on a meditation exercise with your child. It’s normal for children to have difficulty settling. They may not be able to keep their eyes closed, they may fidget or wiggle as they sit, and they might laugh or try to be funny because it’s awkward or difficult for them to remain still and quiet. This is completely normal, so maintain a sense of humor and take any challenges that arise in stride. It will take time to teach your child to meditate. If you’re overly strict or discipline your child too much, you will end up making this a negative interaction instead of a calming one.
Meditation Exercises for Children
You’ll want to start with a brief session and try to make it fun. I like to start with having each person hold a small river rock and close their eyes and focus on how it feels – shape, texture, differences that make each rock unique. Then open your eyes and do the same investigation with how it looks. This is a great way for children to start with mindfulness and focused attention. This rock can also become a mindfulness object that they can use for calming when they need it.
For children, guided meditations are generally the best way to teach them to meditate. There are many guided meditations available for free online that are specifically for children. You can find them through a simple Google search or by searching on YouTube. There are also apps you can use on your phone, tablet or smart TV that are also completely free. One example is Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame, an app intended for children under five which is available for the Android and iOS. Another example is Wellbeyond Meditation for Kids for iOS.
There are also classes available at some meditation centers that are specifically for children. Do a Google search for “meditation center [city, state]”, then check their online schedule or give them a call to find out if they have meditation classes for children.
If you are you a parent looking for ways to cope with balancing your needs while caring for your child, a licensed psychologist can provide the support and guidance you need. Feel free to contact me today or check out my website at www.drjodykircher.com to learn more about my approach.