Can children meditate?
I was recently asked this question by a reporter during an interview about meditation for kids. I was surprised by the question. After all, mindfulness & meditation seem to be the flavor du jour for all ages. So I reassured her that, yes, kids can meditate.
As a long-time pediatric yoga therapist, I've found that meditation not only helps children regulate their emotions, but can also foster a deeper connection between parent and child. You can find all sorts of resources online--scripts you read word-for-word, or audio (and even video) recordings where you just press play. But as a parent you still want to make sure it's the right tool for your unique child. So here are some helpful guidelines:
1) Your child's developmental age
Make sure the meditation instructions and length of the meditation match your child's understanding. Keep meditations for kids 8 years and under to 5 minutes or fewer. Deepak Chopra has a few great meditations for a variety of ages.
2) Your child's interest level
Stay open to your child's opinion of meditation. If she doesn't seem interested, drop it for now. Meditation is a very personal decision--even for children. Some kids love it right away, some don't. If your kiddo doesn't dig it, try one of these 10 mindfulness techniques from Left Brain Buddha instead.
3) Do you meditate?
If you do, why not try offering your child a small sample of what you do. If you don't have a meditation practice, that's fine too. Just make sure that if you've decided on a meditation script you found online that you've practiced it once first. And whether you've meditated or not before, make sure you do your child's meditation practice with them. Nothing is better than a role model when it comes to meditation and mindfulness practices! Your child will learn more from you example than anything else.