The use of meditation as an intervention technique for children with behavioral problems is on the rise, and so is research on how meditation techniques can help, according to a preliminary review of research published in the “Journal of Child and Family Studies.” Your child might be able to benefit from mediation.
“Psychology Today” defines mindfulness as “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 behavior 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.
2. Yoga Postures
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 percent 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 Buddhist mantra “Ham sa” (I am that) is a popular one: breath in on "ham," breathe out on "sa." Your child can say the mantra out loud or think it while breathing.
4. Guided Imagery
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.
- Journal of Child and Family Studies: Mindfulness-Based Approaches with Children and Adolescents: A Preliminary Review of Current Research in an Emergent Field
- Psychology Today: Mindfulness
- Journal of Child and Family Studies; Yoga in an Urban School for Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders: A Feasibility Study; Naomi J. Steiner, et al.
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