Kids Sleep Meditation: So Good You'll Want To Try It, Too!
Ever find yourself in bed counting sheep, trying to settle your mind from all of the days’ stimulation? Imagine how much more difficult that is for a child! Whether your kiddos are at school or at home, their brains are constantly being flooded with new stimulation and every day is a brand new learning experience. It’s not hard to understand why it can sometimes be hard for their constantly-stimulated minds to settle down despite the body’s need for rest.
Of course, any parenting blog, magazine, or sleep consultant will tell you that a consistent routine is key to a successful bedtime transition: take a bath, brush teeth, put on PJs, read a book, meditate 🤔. It may sound silly, but kids sleep meditation works. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages meditation for children (more on that in a sec)!
Although the benefits of meditation for adults are becoming increasingly more well-known, you may be surprised to learn that young children can benefit from meditation throughout the day and, yes, just before they drift off to sleepy land. Below we’ll visit some great ways to utilize kids sleep meditation to help your little one settle her beautiful mind into a peaceful, fulfilling rest. You might be surprised to find that it works. In fact, your kiddo may even look forward to it (like mine)!
- What is Meditation? How Can it Help?
- Kids Sleep Meditation: Videos, Guided Scripts, and Apps
- 5 Tips for Bedtime Meditation
What is Meditation? How Can It Help?
Did you know that children today have reportedly high stress levels? That’s pretty scary. To help them take a break, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages parents to share meditation with their children.
So what exactly is meditation? Most simply, it’s the act of giving your attention to only one thing, either as a religious activity or as a way of becoming calm and relaxed (Yes, yes, yes!).
A 2016 study suggests meditation programs for children can help in more ways than one. The report analyzed popular mind-body therapies for children and youth including biofeedback, clinical hypnosis, guided imagery, meditation, and yoga. The study concludes that there are benefits to meditation, particularly related to improvements in mental health, coping, and self-regulation as well as decreasing hypertension and negative school behaviors. Additional potential benefits for school-aged children include improved concentration and self-esteem.
Turns out, encouraging children how to stop, focus, and just breathe could be one of the most important things you teach them.
Kids Sleep Meditation: Videos, Guided Scripts, and Apps
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I must admit, I’m at the very beginning of my own personal meditation journey. Although I practice yoga several times per week, I haven’t quite mastered the whole shivasana thing (“corpse pose” - often used for relaxation at the end of a yoga session).
I would never have considered bedtime guided meditation for children until one particularly uneasy night when my son’s mind was working a mile a minute - he was asking question after question, moving from one topic to the next, and filling me in on every tiny, minute detail of his day (which I loved, but I was also tired). After about 10 minutes, I said “you need to rest your mind. Would you like me to help?”
As moms do, I improvised; I came up with “Rest Your Mind” which has become a necessity at bedtime ever since. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was teaching him a basic form of meditation and it worked like a charm (I’ll share the script below). It got me interested in some other ways to use meditation to help kids settle and sleep, and there’s no shortage of kids sleep meditation resources!
Videos With Guided Meditation
There are some great video resources for guided meditation and I’ll share two below. It should be noted that these videos usually range from 10-20 minutes, which are probably too long for toddlers. There are some other options for toddlers that I’ll share under “Guided Scripts” and “Apps”.
Kindred Meditations has a great collection of children's guided meditation for sleep. Their catalog of videos are designed to help kids fall asleep peacefully and without worries. Each meditation story guides the child through a visualization to relax the body from head to toe, then ends with them falling asleep in a comfortable bed. Check out their Youtube channel for all of the guided meditation videos.
New Horizon is another great option for videos and it looks like lots of people agree - they have over 84K subscribers on their Youtube channel! The stories take kids on a 15-20 minute journey through relaxation with a variety of different characters.
If you prefer to avoid videos, another great kids sleep meditation comes in the form of a written script read by you. Reading meditations when you can be present, loving, and calm can help your child to find a peaceful sleep. Speak the words gently, and use expression in your voice. Relax yourself a bit before reading to create the perfect atmosphere of calm and serenity. Most scripts are between 5 and 10 minutes, which works well for younger kids.
Green Child Magazine has a large collection of meditation stories for kids of all ages.
Motherly shared seven guided meditation scripts that you might also want to try. They’re short and sweet but get the job done!
If you were interested in the “Rest Your Mind” script that I mentioned earlier, it goes something like this:
“Rest” each part of the body with a gentle touch then ask the child to take one long inhale and exhale with your hand on the area (e.g. gently touch the hair then say “Rest your hair. Take one deep breath, in and out”). Then, move your hand and “rest” the neck, the shoulders, the back, the spine, the chest, etc. (my son gets a real kick out of me resting his “booty booty butt cheeks”). Continue until you reach the bottom of the feet then move back up to “rest” the cheeks, lips, nose, mouth, and finally, the mind.
GoodNight Kiddo. Meditation Studio’s “Good Night Kiddo” collection pairs voiced meditation narratives with original music. The soothing combo of music and a gentle guided meditation helps your little one to relax and fall asleep without strain, struggle or tantrums. It’s perfect for older kids (it’s designed for 4-8 year olds). A great kids sleep meditation, but beware: it’s not cheap. The app, which is available for iOS on the App Store requires a Meditation Studio subscription. Parents can choose from either a monthly $7.99 fee or an annual $49.99 subscription.
Headspace. Of course, Headspace seems to be everywhere and they now have guided meditation for kids! Kids can enjoy fun, engaging activities that teach them the basics of mindfulness (yes, even mindfulness for toddlers)! They’ll practice breathing exercises, visualizations and even try some focus-based meditation. They have meditations for everything: calm, focus, kindness, waking up, and of course, going to sleep. They even have customized the sessions for three age groups: 5 and under, 6-8 and 9-12. The app ranges from $7.99 to$19.99 depending on the plan you choose.
5 Tips for Bedtime Meditation
If you’re interested in meditation for children, a bedtime meditation is a great place to start! Perhaps your little one will love it so much you start to implement occasional breaks throughout the day. Regardless of how you choose to incorporate meditation in your home, here are a few tips for getting started with kids sleep meditation:
- Don’t change your current routine. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! The goal is to add meditation to ease your little one into sleep; we don’t want to change the current routine, which can really throw a toddler out of whack! If reading a book is part of your nightly routine, continue doing just that then follow up with the mediation so it simply becomes another part of the nightly wind-down.
- Pick a time when you feel energized enough to help your child deal with a new method of falling asleep. This is new to your child, so it’s best to pick a time when you feel good, calm, and patient.
- Turn off screens within an hour of bedtime.
- Stay calm and loving in your energy, especially if your child has difficulties with the new method. Your mood and the way in which you communicate can affect how children settle down. Speak in a loving voice and remember to take pauses if reading from a script.
- There’s no right or wrong way to meditate. Try not to get upset if your little one doesn’t want to close her eyes or lay still; when children begin to breathe and shift their attention to their body, it’s natural that they may want to move around a bit. For some kids, closing their eyes can be a bit of a challenge; just ask them to stare at a specific spot in the room until they are ready to close their eyes.
Like adults, children are susceptible to the pitfalls of a stressful day. Sometimes it can be hard to “switch off” racing thoughts, but by introducing meditation at bedtime, you’re teaching your little one that it’s okay to slow down, take a breath, and just be. There’s an increasing amount of research showing that meditation can be very beneficial for children of all ages, and I’m definitely on the bandwagon with this one. I’ve personally had success and I urge you to give kids sleep meditation a try!
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