Calm Young Children With Meditation Community

After arriving from outside, the 4-year-old girl continued to behave like a whirling dervish.

Even though it was time to settle down and prepare to eat, she couldn’t seem to make it. Her mother had noticed that her daughter had difficulty moving from one environment to another.

Her daughter’s preschool teacher also mentioned that she struggled to calm down after free play periods.

The mother could see that it could become a problem if it continued. She decided her daughter needed help figuring out how to calm down and decided to start teaching her meditation and coping skills.

Many young children may have difficulty making transitions or learning to deal with frustration. Meditation can provide them with a tool to help them regulate themselves more effectively.

One technique that can be used at home is to count breaths.

This technique asks a child to create soft fists. As the child breathes, she extends a finger from her palm.

For example, the first breath can deploy the right thumb and the next one deploy the right index finger. The child progresses until all fingers of both hands are open or a total of 10 breaths are taken. As the child deploys each finger, he can pronounce a mantra. The classic is “om”, but it helps if kids can create their own mantra that helps them feel calm and relaxed.

Another way to teach kids better coping skills is to use apps aimed at kids.

A popular app is the Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame app from Sesame Street. This is a free interactive application for children aged two to seven. The app teaches children to use three steps when faced with frustrating situations. They take a deep breath first, think about what to do next, and try the solution.

In addition, the app allows children to help a friendly monster take a deep breath, brainstorm plans and try them out to overcome a difficult situation.

In many ways, it mimics the pretend play that children use when they master social skills.

Often children’s play resembles situations they have encountered as they find better ways to react. The Sesame app provides tips and strategies for parents on patience and error resolution, among other things. It also contains an educational guide, songs and videos.

Parents who download the app will want to use it with their kids for a few minutes each day so they can start teaching and learning strategy. After using the app for a while, parents should encourage the use of the real-time approach with their children when they are having difficulty in order to generalize the skills to various situations.

If the kids are a bit older, another mindfulness and meditation app that can be used is Smiling Mind. The app is free and can be used by all age groups, but there are modules suitable for ages seven and up. The app has evidence-based content and helps kids develop their meditative skills.

Many children need help dealing with frustrations and transitions between environments. Parents can help by providing direct instructions on meditation or by using child-friendly apps. Practicing a little everyday and trying to use these skills in real settings will give children additional tools to deal with life’s ups and downs more effectively.

Dan Florell, Ph.D., is a professor at Eastern Kentucky University and has a private practice, MindPsi (www.mindpsi.net). Praveena Salins, MD, is a pediatrician with Madison Pediatric Associates (www.madisonpeds.com).


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