If you notice your child seems more anxious and unable to focus, it could be a good idea to introduce them to a kids’ meditation app.
Meditation and its impact on kids’ wellbeing is a fairly new concept and research is still being done, but early studies have shown meditation improves kids’ focus and behavior. In recent years, more teachers are incorporating kids’ meditation in the classroom by collaborating with app makers such as Calm and Headspace.
The first step is to find the right app for your kid. There are hundreds of meditation apps on the market, but you’ll reap the most benefits if you choose one best suited for your kid’s specific needs. So, grab some kids’ headphones and consider these features before you download meditation apps:
Age-appropriateness: Meditation can be helpful for kids of all ages, but you’re likely to lose cool points with your preteen if you suggest an app designed for 3-year-olds. Likewise, an app for more mature kids might fail to hold the attention of a busy toddler. Here are some meditation apps with four and five-star ratings from Common Sense Media:
Desired outcome: Think of the short and long-term goals you hope to accomplish through meditation. Does your kid toss and turn every night at bedtime? If a restful night of sleep is the focus, meditation before bed can help them wind down, says Tamara Jefferies, a Certified Holistic Practitioner who has taught meditation for 15 years. Stop, Breathe and Think is an app that helps kids “discover their superpower of quiet, focus and peaceful sleep.”
Price: Every kid is different, and they might need to try a few meditations apps before they find a match. Knowing this, it might be easier on your conscience (and your wallet) if you start off with a free or low-cost app before moving on to a more expensive one. Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame is free and Happy Not Perfect: Meditation offers a free trial. After a few months, if meditation appears to work well for your kid and you want to invest in a paid app, Headspace for Kids comes with monthly and annual subscription plans.
Once you’ve found the right app, here are some ways to implement it—and the practice of meditation—with your child:
Have a conversation about what meditation is and why it’s useful. “When your child is feeling frustrated by a homework assignment, or one of their siblings, present meditation as a tool they can use to help make themselves feel better,” says Jefferies. “Explain that it’s not a punishment, like time-out, where they’re being made to sit quietly.”
Model it first, then have them join you. “Seeing you [meditate], particularly if they’re little kids [around] age 4 or 5, will entice them to do it because they naturally want to do what you’re doing,” Jefferies says.
Set a regular time for meditation and keep it short. According to Jefferies, kids thrive with a routine, so set a regular time to meditate together. However, she cautions, kids are kids and sitting still for long periods of time isn’t their forte. It’s best to keep meditation short to begin with, between 3 and 5 minutes.
Reward their practice with something they like. Jefferies says it also helps to praise them for being able to sit still for that long, explaining that even grown-ups find it hard to sit in meditation.
Meditation can be a hard habit to stick with even for adults. With the help of a little technology though, your kid can be well on their way to finding their peaceful place.