3 Ways to Calm Your Kids
Calming your kids using meditation isn’t as hard as you may think. In this series, I outline 3 types of meditation that I do with my children, and I know your kids are going to love them, too!
I have learned a lot of recovery techniques over the years. Each time I find one that (not only helps me but also) seems universally beneficial to healthy living—I mold, meld, and shrink that nugget of goodness until I have a child-sized version of the practice to share with my kids.
Meditation is one of those gems
I recommend that you do these practices right alongside your children in order to teach them. By modeling recovery practices for your kiddos, you communicate that self-care is both valuable and doable. Doing this with your children also increases your integrity. You won’t be asking something of your children that you don’t do yourself.
How to introduce meditation to your kids
When you announce to your children that you are about to do a new activity, they are typically curious and excited. Meditation is no different. It’s all in how you present it. Don’t use any of the same words you use at bedtime to describe meditation or else they’ll be instantly doubtful and suspicious, and you might be met with resistance.
However, if you honestly share that you are going to show them some neat things to do that you like to do yourself, they’ll be on board. Your kids enjoy you, so they’ll enjoy doing what you like to do. And they’ll appreciate that you are doing this activity with them.
THE THREE-PART MEDITATION
For this first meditation practice, each person is in a different room or a different spot outside.
Make sure that a pad of paper and some drawing materials are within reach of each child.
There are three equal parts to this mediation
Each part needs to be at least 10 minutes long but not more than 20. The age of the children involved and the length of time you have to supervise (and participate!) in the meditation practice will dictate how long each section will be. Just make sure that each part is the same length.
The total meditation time will be 30 to 60 minutes. I use the timer on my phone (set with a gentle alarm tone, like wind chimes) to signal the end of each section.
Prep your child:
Always tell your children what to expect. Be honest about the amount of time you’ve set aside. Go over the order of each part of the meditation before it begins, and the children will feel more confident about what they are about to do.
When this practice was a new activity for us to do together, I stayed with my youngest child during each section until there was a comfort level there of being left alone. But I didn’t talk or work or get on my phone, while with my child. I modeled the meditation practice. Be sure you do that, too.
PART ONE: SILENT & STILL MEDITATION
Each child sits or lies still and silently for 10 minutes.
This may sound like an impossible task for small children, but my kids actually love it. I don’t present it as a time that they “have to” sit but as a time when they “get to” sit.
I tell them that this is a time when they get to be alone with their thoughts to daydream, plan, think, or remember. This is their time.
As homeschooled kids, my children spend much of their day together. So having this separate time is a real treat. This is something they can own and treasure. Conversely, if you find that your children want to be with each other, try different spots in the same room or closer spots outside.
If your little ones tend to be restless, schedule this meditation immediately after a meal. Their full bellies may help them relax. And if they are really little (or really tired), they may fall asleep during 10 minutes of stillness.
Also, you can decrease the Silent and Still section to just 2-3 minutes. That can feel like an eternity to a child who has never really sat still before. But it could also be a wonderful way to help that child become accustomed to the pleasure of being still.
After the time for the first meditation has ended, the wind chimes tinkle on my phone alarm, and I walk from room to room with my phone in hand, so each child can hear the sound. (I prefer not to use words to cue the end of each section.)
Once they have all heard the alarm, I then speak quietly to remind them what type of meditation is next.
PART TWO: TALKING MEDITATION
Yes, talking to meditate!
My kids really love this one. They get to talk their thoughts right out loud.
Talking out loud is the easiest way for kids to think. And they feel heard when they talk their thoughts out, even when they are the only ones hearing themselves.
It can get a little noisy. That’s the reason each child is in a different room or separate space outside. Be sure not to let one child dominate the meditation by talking too loudly. And don’t allow the children to use the time to carry on conversations with each other.
At first, this part can be a bit difficult for older children to buy into. Who are they supposed to be talking to? When they asked me, I told my kids they could talk to God, themselves, imaginary friends, toys, or stuffed animals.
Once my kids tried it, they absolutely loved it!
They like it so much, in fact, that they sometimes groan to hear the timer go off marking the end of that part of the meditation. I tell them they can continue talking at the beginning of the final period of meditation until their thoughts start to wind down.
PART THREE: DRAWING MEDITATION
For this final section, have the children draw whatever is on their minds. My kids often sketch what they were talking about during Talking Meditation.
One of my children tends to create abstract drawings with whatever colors are found to be appealing that day.
Another frequently draws and writes out original comic strips filled with characters who say just what’s on my child’s mind.
For a long time, one of my children rarely drew any pictures but continued the talking meditation, finding this particular practice extremely helpful for personal party planning and formulating requests for birthday and Christmas presents!
And that’s totally ok.
These meditation practices are not about following strict rules. They are guidelines to help the children in your life learn to
- slow down
- steady their emotions
- and learn to appreciate their own company
When the total 30-minute meditation time is up, my children are rejuvenated!
I notice that they have a sort of “scrubbed clean” kind of appearance similar to the way they are after their baths, except it’s an emotional and relational type of shine.
Many times, they want to share their thoughts and drawings with me or each other. Then other times, they don’t care to. Still other times, they will ask me about what I’ve drawn or talked about.
I answer them truthfully but only at an age-appropriate level.
That is, when my thoughts turn toward adult matters that they don’t need to be bothered with, or when my drawing morphs into a to-do list that would overwhelm them, I don’t share the details of my meditation. I simply tell them that I was reminded of some important matters while meditating, and that I’m going to take a minute to add them to my calendar and consult a friend.
But To-Do Lists Aren’t the Only Things That Come Up for Me
Because I’m participating in these meditation practices alongside my children, they work for me in the way they do for my kids.
I find that meditation can sometimes bring up feelings that I generally don’t allow myself time to feel. And I can experience difficult thoughts that I don’t let myself think about when I’m busy.
What do I do? I immediately take these concerns to God in prayer. The Talking Meditation becomes whispered prayers, and the Drawing Meditation turns into journaling to Jesus. (When the mediation is over, I message a friend about what came up for me.)
Don’t tell your children these kinds of specifics. Do let them know that meditation is sometimes a time that God uses to direct our thoughts and feelings toward matters that need our attention. Feel free to tell them when this happens, just not the details of your thoughts or feelings.
Go ahead and tell them when your meditation time allows you to think through, pray through, and journal through difficult issues that you will discuss with a support person later. When you model that for your children, don’t be surprised when they come to you as their support person for difficult thoughts and emotions that sometimes come up for them during meditation.
Then, when you respond to your children (without interruption) using a loving and listening ear, a non-judgmental restatement of what you heard them say, and the reassurance that what they feel and need matters to you, you’ll find your relationship with your children growing closer as their trust in you deepens.
Meditation works wonders for our internal worlds and external relationships.
Check Out The Rest of the Posts in This Series
I’m excited for you to start meditating with your kids! Be sure to check out the rest of the posts in this series. It’s helpful to have lots of recovery practices handy to help you parent proudly.