Mindfulness is a powerful tool in our home. My partner and I meditate and practice mindfulness but the person who can benefit the most is our 7 year old, she has a lot of energy and can be quite (very) reactive. In Montessori school at morning circle she learned to meditate and through books like Pancakes By Eric Carle we have started to explore mindfulness more but I am keen to discover more so reached out to Lorraine Murray, Award-Winning Founder of Connected Kids – which teach children meditation and author of the international best-seller ‘Calm Kids – help children relax with mindful activities’ and ‘Connected Kids – help kids shine with mindful activities’
Hi Lorraine, Welcome to No Mum Is An Island. I am a great believer that no mum (or dad) should have to do everything herself, we can’t possibly know it all, and we need all the support we can get, there is a wealth of information out there to help us upgrade our parenting experience, to make our lives easier and this website is a hub for just that! We love that you began the journey of teaching meditation to kids/teens as it seemed to make sense that our kids would benefit from these skills to reduce stress
Meditation helps with self-regulation, emotional intelligence, focus and concentration for academic studies and reducing anxiety and stress to help child development take its natural course – science backs this up now (thankfully) but we had witnessed it many times in our teaching.
Meditation can be especially supportive of children with additional support needs, can you explain why?
Children with SEN (especially those with ADHD and autism can struggle with situations/experiences that don’t phase kids without SEN. So this causes stress. Many of these kids survive in their fight/flight/freeze and by teaching them meditation we reduce the impact of stress as well as giving them coping strategies for those stress triggers.
How can we use meditation to ‘problem solve’ and overcome challenges?
Research shows that the PFC (prefrontal cortex) of the brain lights up when someone meditates. This takes time to develop in children and meditation helps this connection by reducing stress that may interfere with the brain responding this way. The PFC is part of our problem-solving brain so it helps children to access this.
What advice can you give to a parent who wants to teach their own child to meditate?
Aha! First of all they must also practise (or learn to practise alongside their children. We meet many stressed out parents wanting their kids to practise… it’s a chicken and egg situation so your child responds to your stress and you to theirs. So start learning some simple breath meditations that you can ‘carry in your pocket’ and pull out whenever you need it – especially when your kids are playing up or their behaviour is difficult. As a foster mum I know it works because I use it – a lot!
I am a huge supporter of modelling behaviour, if a parent is finding it difficult not to react to their kids how can they use this to show their kids mindfulness and meditation as a useful tool?
See answer above though I would also encourage parents to listen and speak mindfully with their kids. Too often we get into a ‘do as you are told’ and this makes the situation worse. If you make a mistake with reactive behaviour – own it and apologise. Make it a learning experience that we are all human and all learning. Invite your kids to realise that adults have feelings and stress too and move towards collectively meditating on it.
Is there anything else you want to share with parents who are interested in teaching meditation to their children.
Just try it. Too often I hear from people who feel that their kids won’t want to learn. It’s their own internal fear of rejection that does this! Make it a shared experience and learn from your kids about what they like and don’t like and try to build a meditation or mindful activity around their interest as they are much more likely to connect to this!