If you have relaxation practices that work for you, you might wonder how you can encourage your children to join you. After all, their lives can be stressful too when they’re trying to get good grades, make friends, and adapt to the changes that are part of growing up.
Sure, it would be tough to train a toddler to meditate for a half hour when they can barely sit still long enough to eat. However, there are age-appropriate activities suitable for any stage of development, from preschoolers to teens.
Find out more about how to help your children develop greater mindfulness and relieve stress.
Even small children can relax and focus if you use movement and sound to make it interesting. It also helps if you provide an inspiring role model by managing stress constructively yourself.
- Make it fun. Be sure to present relaxation practices as a helpful tool rather than punishment. Pay attention to your child’s limits so they’ll stay engaged.
- Keep it brief. As little as one minute of seated meditation can be an achievement for a preschooler. Plan multiple activities so you can switch things around if your child seems to be losing interest.
- Breathe deep. Focusing on the breath is an excellent starting point at any age. Ask your child to imagine filling their stomach and chest with air and then releasing it like a balloon.
- Play music. Does your child have some favorite songs? Take turns singing different parts or ask them to listen for certain notes. Close observation is a form of mindfulness.
- Take a walk. You can also meditate or appreciate your surroundings while you’re moving around. Go to the park and identify as many different kinds of flowers as you can.
- Ask the teacher. Some schools are including stress management and meditation in their curriculum. Check on what’s available and see if there’s anything you can do to help.
With teens, you can build on the techniques designed for younger children and introduce some new lessons. Meditation may be especially valuable during these years as many teens experience depression and anxiety. Be sure to let your doctor know if your teen is already receiving treatment for such conditions.
- Increase time gradually. Keep in mind your teen’s interests and abilities. If they benefit from meditating, they may want to sit for an hour or more a day. Otherwise, you can suggest other ways to relax, such as yoga or working on hobbies.
- Share experiences. Listen enthusiastically to what your teen thinks about relieving stress and living mindfully. Discuss your own thoughts and feelings too.
- Take turns teaching. Give your teen a chance to instruct you. If you do guided meditations together, you could alternate being the one to do the reading and provide directions. If you usually do tai chi, let them know that you’d appreciate their help in coming up with new ideas for the sake of variety.
- Search for apps. There are apps for relaxation and meditation, and many of them are free. Your teen may prefer something created for their own age group or they may be happy with a general program for adults.
- Sign up for classes. If you’re still looking for something more, see what’s available in your neighborhood. Check events listings at your local library and other resources to find courses on meditating or gardening.
Children and teens can benefit from relaxation practices whether you use a modern app or an old-fashioned meditation cushion. Introduce your sons and daughters to positive habits that can help them grow up to be happy and peaceful.