Tips to make the most of meditation with your kids
Before going to the final post in this series and looking at another type of meditation to try with your kids, it’s important to take a minute and make sure you are making the most of the meditation time with your kiddos.
Tip #1 to make the most of meditation with your kids:
Understand the good that meditation can bring to both you and your children
Ah, to be still and silent! To whisper and yet be heard! To get to blow bubbles and think one’s own thoughts! Meditation is a refreshing way for your kids to begin each day. Or start the day over.
Plus it’s a practice available to children of all ages and abilities.
Your children learn that waking up and starting the day can go smoothly. And that when the day hits a rough patch, stopping to meditate can bring a new sense of calm.
You need to learn that lesson, too.
These days, I awaken before my children, so I have sufficient time to practice my own meditation before leading them in theirs. And for me, leading them means doing it with them. When I do these meditation practices alongside my children, they see that I believe meditation is a worthwhile practice.
It’s not something that I am making them do; it’s something that I am doing myself and inviting them to do along with me. It truly brings us closer together.
Once you’ve made a practice of leading your children through these meditations, you’ll see how much more smoothly your day can begin. And since meditation isn’t just for the early morning, use any one of these techniques to get your kids back on track when a challenge comes up in their day.
You’ll learn more about them, and they’ll learn more about themselves. And, in the end, that leads to calmer and more cooperative kids, no matter what the time of day.
Tip #2 to make the most of meditation with your kids:
Multitasking and Meditation do not mix
Once the children get used to the different parts of a meditation practice and the order of each section is well understood by them, they are going to need very little guidance from you. That means they won’t be paying quite as much attention to what you’re doing.
If you’re like me, you may be tempted to get some work done while they are occupied, maybe check a few emails, or respond to some texts. I strongly advise against it.
If you are too distracted by your own tasks, you won’t be paying attention well enough to move the children through the different steps of the practice on time. This will disturb their meditation, which could lead to feelings of frustration for them. Then if you haven’t accomplished everything you had hoped to do while they were meditating, your frustration level could rise, too.
That’s the last thing that you want to experience coming out of your meditation practice!
Tip #3 to make the most of meditation with your kids:
Remember, meditation is good for you, too!
It’s a recovery practice, not some trick or gimmick to calm your kids. Besides, how often do you give yourself permission to lie down for a while, have uninterrupted prayer in the middle of the day, enjoy coloring just for fun, or blow bubbles outside?
That said, you have to be practical, too.
Precious and few are the times when your children are happily engaged in a nurturing activity that frees you up to do something that would nourish your own soul—like getting caught up on laundry.
So if you choose less than full participation in meditation time with your children, be sure to choose something from your to-do list that can have an element of relaxation in it or that will give you a good sense of accomplishment when you’re done.
Fold laundry while praying. Empty the dishwasher while humming a hymn. Do some gentle stretches with your eyes closed and your mind full of gratitude.
Just stay off your phone.
Tip #4 to make the most of meditation with your kids:
Meditation makes for seamless Transition
Have something planned for your children to do immediately after they have finished a meditation. As adults in recovery, we have (or are working toward) the ability to transition well from one activity to another. We’re motivated to get up and get moving after meditation because we know that idle thoughts can lead to dangerous places and because dinner has yet to cook itself.
Kids . . . not so much.
Help your children out. When that third timer goes off at the end of the Three-Part Meditation, say something like, “When you finish drawing, empty the trash (or set the table, or put away your drawing things and start your spelling homework).”
After you have put the bubbles away and the kids have shared their thoughts and feelings, make sure your share includes an explanation of what’s coming next. It could be that right after mediation, they have free time.
It doesn’t matter what you guide them to do, just give them a specific direction once the practice has ended.
Tip #5 to make the most of meditation with your kids:
Mix it up and make it your own
The meditation practices that I have suggested in this series are just that: suggestions. You know your kids better than anyone. Take these suggested practices and make them your own.
Working to encourage gratitude in your children? Set a timer for 10 minutes. Then use a Talking Meditation during which everyone takes turns saying something they are grateful for. Then spend another 10 minutes with each person writing or drawing about their gratitude.
Want to support your children in developing comfort spending time alone without screens? Create a 30 minute-long space during which everyone picks a spot in the house to do a solitary and pleasant activity that doesn’t involve electronics. Some will read or practice playing an instrument. Others will draw or journal. You may see the youngest ones gather very near you to play with dolls or blocks.
Tip #6 to make the most of meditation with your kids:
Keep reading and keep thinking of ways to calm and quiet, slow down and just “be”
Check out the final post in the Meditation Series.
And when you can’t remember the order of the steps that I lay out in these posts, use your intuition and imagination. Or even better, ask your kids what they would like to do. Together, you’ll come up with meditative practices you all will enjoy.