The use of meditation as an intervention technique for children with behavioural problems is on the rise. Far from the classic method of hoping that kids will spontaneously reevaluate their own behaviour through punishment, teaching kids to focus on their breath and on the present moment may have a lot more value in the long run .Some of the benefits that research tells us meditation and mindfulness can offer kids are as
One thing that grownups are perpetually concerned about in kids is attention. Studies have shown positive effects of meditation on attention in children with and without ADD/ADHD,
A bump in attendance and grades in school
Meditation in schools may help improve the things that school officials like to see – grades and attendance.
Better mental health
For kids who are dealing with outright trauma, meditation has been thought to benefit overall mental health in kids.
A reprieve from outside trauma
when kids are living with really bad situations outside of school, their bodies and minds are so overwrought as a result, that it’s virtually impossible for them to sit in class and learn. Meditation and mindfulness will definitely help kids who are dealing with stressors.
Self-awareness and self-regulation
Mindfulness is intimately connected to self-awareness (it’s almost the definition of it), and this extends naturally to self-regulation. That is, if one learn to be more aware of your thought processes and reactions in the present moment, it follows that one would be more in charge of one’s emotions and behaviors. Kids, who are just learning to manage their own internal stuff, can benefit hugely from some instruction on how to do this.
Kids who practice yoga, meditation and mindfulness build skills of attention, self awareness, self management are leading to more responsible decision making and prosocial behavior.
Techniques of meditation
Mindfulness is “a state of active, open attention on the present.” Mindfulness is about living in the moment, not worrying about the past or the future. If your child’s behaviour problems stem from anxiety over past events or future desires, it can be useful to help him learn mindfulness techniques. Practice focusing on the present together by reciting Mantras. Even repeating something such as “I am here,” either aloud or in his mind, can help your child to focus on what she is doing in the present moment, and enjoy it.
Children who are kinesthetic learners will enjoy doing yoga postures as a form of meditation. A 2009 study in the “Journal of Child and Family Studies” instituted a 3 1/2 month yoga intervention for students with emotional and behavioral disorders. The 37 students met for yoga class twice a week in small groups. By the end of the intervention, 80 per cent of responders reported satisfaction with the intervention, and teachers noted increased attention in class, and better adaptive behaviors and reduced symptoms. Enrolling your child in a yoga class or doing yoga with your child at home can help her release energy through physical activity and reduce stress through mindfulness and breathing techniques while practicing.
Simple attention to the breath is another important meditation technique. This can be equivalent to a “positive time-out” for your child if he is experiencing anger and frustration or making poor choices. Teach your child how to breathe slowly and deeply. You might teach your child a meditative mantra to go along with the breath. The mantra “SOHAM” is a popular one: breath in on “SO,” breathe out on “HUM.” Your child can say the mantra out loud or think it while breathing.
Allowing your child to use her imagination is one way to make meditation both enjoyable and calming. If your child practices a guided imagery meditation with you, she will learn how to go to a “special place” in her mind when she needs to calm down. Have her close her eyes and talk her through a meditation as she pictures doing something relaxing, such as sitting on a beach. Let her choose her favorite calm place to imagine and what she is doing there.
It’s no surprise that studies show that those kids who practice yoga and meditation regularly are, in general, happier, more resilient children. They have a solid sense of self and are more connected to, and respectful of, others and the world around them.
(The author is Lecturer in Psychology at GGHSS Mubarak Mandi Jammu)
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