By Emma Stessman
Considering how hard it can be to get your kids to, say, eat a piece of broccoli or go to sleep a minute before their bedtime, the idea of getting them to sit still for a meditation session might sound ridiculous.
But while it’s unlikely Zen is the word you most often use to describe your five-year-old, teaching your child to meditate may be less intimidating than you may think, according to Khajak Keledjian, the founder of meditation app, INSCAPE, which recently launched a series of breathing and meditation exercises for kids.
The key, Keledjian says, is to start simple. “Introduce your kids to mindfulness by incorporating simple practices like deep, long breaths, actively listening to music… [or] slow and intentional sensory experiences like truly tasting what they are eating and identifying flavors,” he says.
For example, the INSCAPE kid programs incorporate activities lie humming, walking, light breathwork, and present moment awareness.
Why bother? Here’s how Keledjian says meditation can benefit your kid—during childhood and beyond.
3 Benefits of Teaching Kids to Meditate
Stronger relationships with others
Most kids know “sharing is caring” is a pretty hard and fast rule but don’t really understand the concept behind it––compassion. Meditation can help children develop this important core value, as well as a few others, Keledjian explains. “Through meditation, children have the ability to become more understanding and listen to others, which helps nurture their relationships.”
Plus, a regular meditation practice can help kids avoid common socializing issues. One study showed that elementary school-aged children who took an eight-week meditation class had lower levels of aggression and social anxiety.
Boosted confidence and self-esteem
Meditation can help children build a strong sense of confidence and self-esteem, Keledjian says. Since these are two things many adults struggle with, building a foundation of these traits starting at a young age can be pretty beneficial. Research shows that children who participate in meditation programs have higher self-esteem, likely due to the emphasis placed on non-judgment and acceptance.
Improved performance in school
Those little minds are constantly running at a mile a minute––and while that’s great for their imagination, it’s not so great for staying focused at school. Meditation, just like it hopefully does for you, can slow those wandering minds and help your kiddo stay centered on the task at hand.
The science here is pretty promising, so much so that meditation and mindfulness are starting to pop up in school curriculums. One study showed that children who were taught using the mindfulness-based learning program MindUp (founded by Goldie Hawn!) had higher math scores and better working memory and were more focused than their control-group counterparts. “Meditation teaches children that it is possible to direct your attention and focus on one thing at a time,” Keledjian says. “[It] can increase concentration, allow for enhanced creativity and heightened efficiency with school work.”