A recent article shared by several of my friends on Facebook inspired me to take on a new parenting challenge. The article was about a school that replaced detention with meditation and mindfulness training for kids.
My kids are actually too young to be in school. So they haven’t had any experience with detention yet. And I would love for them to avoid the situation altogether. With that in mind, my girls had better start meditating and being mindful sooner than later.
I say that with all the love in my heart. There are both wonderful, smart, kind, sweet kids. And they are intensely passionate. About everything. But they also have more energy than ten people could use up in a day and are more than a little mischievous. Plus they like to get their own way. In fact, they insist upon it.
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My Kids Needs to Learn to Chill!
After a day of watching my daughters bounce off the walls of our house like pinballs, the article about meditation and mindfulness for kids seemed to hold a glimmer of a solution. I’ve long been in search of ways to teach them some self-control and the ability to self-regulate a bit. It can only benefit them and might also help them feel more in control when going from one extreme emotional state to the next.
I did some research looking for mindfulness and meditation resources for toddler or preschool age kids. I thought maybe some yoga would get us on the right track. Resources for older kids abound but it took digging to find resources for toddlers and preschoolers. I decided to try out anything promising I came across.
Meditation and Yoga Resources for Kids
I ordered the book Good Night Yoga as my first attempt at yoga and meditation with my kids. I love this book! There is also a Good Morning Yoga version. I figured Good Night Yoga would be more focused on calming poses, so a better choice for us. My daughters don’t need any help gearing up for the day.
Good Night Yoga features multiple yoga poses that a child can easily do. My kids and I have gone through the book multiple times at this point. My oldest calls it her “Movement Book”. Each of the poses includes a beautiful illustration of a child doing the pose. My girls most enjoy being a tree and the moon. The entire book only takes about ten minutes to go through, at least at toddler speed. Several minutes of contemplation and breathing while we hold a pose is too much to ask from my four-year-old and a one-year-old. I suppose that may come with time.
The truth is, I’ve always liked the idea of yoga more than the actual practice. I have no patience for standing still and just breathing. Whether it’s good for me or not. So my kids and I will have to learn together.
I would recommend this book if you have a preschool to grade school age child and would like them to try a few yoga poses. Or a younger toddler if you’re looking for a way to introduce the concept of yoga and play around with it. It’s relaxing without crossing over to dull. And it’s easy to follow.
Sitting Still Like a Frog
Our next step on the journey to toddler enlightenment was Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents). I thought my oldest would love this one because she is a huge fan of reptiles and amphibians. This book is meant to be read by the adults in a child’s life. It gives a great explanation of why and how kids can benefit from practicing mindfulness.
I didn’t really need to be convinced, but it’s always good to have all the information. As you get deeper into the book there are detailed descriptions of exercises to do with your kids. Most of these align with specific tracks on the included CD.
The CD is the real highlight of this purchase. It contains eleven exercises. Each one is specifically designed to help with a different emotional experience. There are tracks for anger, sadness, anxiety, and several other big emotions kids face. It’s intended for children ages 5-12. My daughter just turned four and is probably not quite ready for this. Although, I did like the exercises myself.
The first track on the CD is called “Sitting Still Like a Frog” and is meant to teach children how to breathe during meditation. It turns out my four-year-old is not interested in sitting still like a frog.
My Frog Won’t Sit Still
This is how it went. The CD told us we were sitting still like a frog and my daughter squealed, “I’m a jumping frog!” and leaped across her room. I reminded her to breathe and hold still. And she screamed, “My frog likes to jump! Ribbit! Ribbit! Ribbit!”
It went similarly through the rest of the tracks. Apparently, we can only handle about a minute of being mindful and calm before exploding into motion. At four years old, my wild girl is not quite ready to sit still like a frog. But if your child experiences fear or anxiety and are closer to the suggested 5-12 age range, I can see where this would be beneficial.
Posing Like a Dinosaur
My third trial in the world of kids yoga and mindfulness was the DVD Yoga for Kids: Dino-Mite Adventure. I knew this had a good chance of being successful because of both my girls’ devoted love of all things dinosaur. This DVD is great. There are four different sessions about 10-15 minutes long. Practicing yoga has never been more fun. There probably isn’t really a baby brontosaurus pose in yoga, but it makes sense to have one when you’re teaching young children.
Both girls love being a baby brontosaurus and a dinosaur egg and a paleontologist digging for dinosaur bones. I can’t say how calming it all is. And it isn’t exactly mindfulness or meditation. But for little ones like mine who crave constant movement and activity, it is a great place to start.
And for an adult like me who can never turn her mind off long enough to meditate about more than my daily to-do list, I enjoy being a baby brontosaurus with my daughters. I will be buying more of the Yoga for Kids DVDs.
In Search of Toddler Nirvana
So, overall we’ve had a few successes in our quest for toddler nirvana. And the quest continues.
Have you tried yoga or meditation with you kids? Do you have any great resources we all should know about? Please share in the comments!