A growing number of parents are looking for ways to share their stillness practice with their children. Here are some benefits of meditating with your toddler, along with suggestions for how to get started.
Benefits of Meditating With Your Toddler:
1. Spend time together as a family. Anything you do with your child gives you a chance to connect and strengthen your relationship. Toddlers mimic everything they see so they may already be curious about your meditation sessions.
2. Help your child to focus. Children have limited attention spans, but their powers of concentration will gradually improve with practice. Start off small to avoid frustration.
3. Make time to relax. Even short breaks will give you and your family a little more peace on busy days. If you battle over nap times, turning the TV off and sitting down together may make it easier for your toddler to fall asleep.
4. Take a more constructive view of time-outs. Meditation can help you present time-outs as a helpful tool rather than punishment. Sitting down together when you're both happy will help your child see how taking a few minutes to calm their mind makes them feel better. Eventually, they may resist time-outs less even when they're upset.
5. Encourage lifelong health.Many studies confirm that regular meditation improves mental and physical health. You're helping your child get an early start on techniques that will make life easier during adolescence and adulthood.
How to Meditate With Your Toddler:
1. Be a calm role model. Small children are very responsive to their parent's emotional state. When you develop a tranquil mind, it's much easier for your child to feel secure and peaceful.
2. Keep your expectations realistic. Most toddlers live in a whirlwind of activity. Expect to be quiet and still for just a few minutes at a time. You and your child will enjoy your sessions more if you make the inevitable distractions part of the fun.
3. Open and close with a song. Pick any tune with cheerful lyrics that's easy to sing. It will help you both get you in the mood.
4. Practice deep breathing and good posture. Learning to breathe correctly and sit up straight are great habits to master early in life. Even small children can learn to breathe slower and from their abdomen.
5. Buy some fun props. Even on a small budget, you can pick up some items that will stimulate your toddler's interest. Get a bell that they can ring to call you both to attention. Go shopping together for a small cushion in their favorite color.
6. Use simple mantras. Help your child pick out words that will be meaningful for them. They may want to recite words like "peace" or "happy." Make a game out of it.
7. Visualize. Take turns guiding each other through simple visualizations. You can each take turns naming people who you love including grandparents and family pets. Try describing an imaginary garden and fill it with pretty plants, water, and rocks.
8. Discuss your experience. You'll both get more out of your sessions if you connect them to your daily lives. Talk with your child about how meditating makes them feel. Encourage them to make suggestions for additional activities.
9. Look for guidance. In most communities and online, there are many resources where you can find helpful instructions. Yoga studios and community centers may offer classes especially for parents and children. You can get books at your local library or search for websites about meditation and yoga for children.
Meditation is an effective way to help you and your toddler enjoy greater peace of mind. Start off gradually and keep it playful and you'll both grow to love your "mommy and me" meditation sessions.