- 3 mins
A Guide to Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Kids
During my kid’s yoga and mindfulness classes, I quite often ask, ‘what is meditation?’ A delightfully popular response is – closed eyes, namaste hands, and a cross-legged position demonstration. This brings a smile to my face every time. Perhaps this is the mindfulness mold we unconsciously present to our children. I would explain that meditation is a way of keeping our minds calm, our hearts full, and our bodies relaxed. It doesn’t always mean keeping still but about keeping focussed on one thing at a time. This can be their breath, coloring-in, their footsteps on the earth below, the sound of rain, or a guided visualization – as some examples.
Meditation can decrease anxiety, improve behavior, encourage kindness, and develop conflict resolution in children. A study in San Francisco amongst 3000 school-aged children not only found a decrease in stress levels but a transformative increase in academic ability and attendance. Understandably many parents are looking to introduce their little ones to mindfulness. My biggest tips would be to remain totally flexible if things don’t go the way you imagined and to be quite delicate about the whole thing. My kids tend to roll their eyes whenever I suggest ‘a mindfulness activity’ but then that’s because I’m a meditation teacher and they naturally want to rebel against mama, haha! So here are my top fun, practical tips to see your kids peacefully approaching life with both appreciation and curiosity.
Write down a list of five or six things that will help your child connect with nature and open up their senses. Focussing on the game allows them to be fully in the here and now and is also a great way for them to be at one with the natural world. They can tick them off the list as they go along. Some fun ideas could be:
Simply light a candle at an appropriate distance and gaze at the flame. Two or three minutes might be enough to start with, especially for children of preschool age. You can turn down the lights and play relaxing music. This is all about staying present with just one thing and letting go of worries from the past or the future. This is one to be carried out with your child, use an LED flame if you feel safer this way, or hop on over to our YouTube Candle Meditation for Kids to meet Nancy and her friends.
Painting, coloring, and all things crafty can be great for creative expression. It’s also an emotional release and a way for kids to use their awesome imaginations. Try some mindfulness doodling or create our Peekaboo’s Relaxing Roots Tree.
Visualizations are a fantastic way to help kids relax. You could create your very own adventure and have them listen to your meditation magic at bedtime when they are nice and cozy. My seven-year-old loves it when I tell him a story! He also loves Bonnie’s Wild West Quest in the Adventure Seekers section of our app.
To learn more about mindfulness, check out our Simple Guide to Mindfulness for Kids which walks you through some more fun mindfulness ideas for children.