Meditation Notes: Skip The Bedtime Stories…And The Stress
Bedtime stories have been a treasured tradition in many homes with kids. And for good reason; it can calm your kids and serve as a signal to help them switch gears from play time to bed time.
In our house, we temporarily changed up that routine last week. We replaced bedtime stories with meditation. I’ve been writing and recording kids’ meditations lately so I needed my expert judges to test them out 🙂
I can’t speak for everyone’s kids, but books or stories do not put my kids to sleep. BEFORE I was a parent I mistakenly believed the purpose of books at bedtime was to put them to sleep…faster. I was wrong. We usually end a story about dinosaurs that leads into an hour long Powerpoint discussion including ten different scenarios about how the dinosaurs went extinct, from space invasions to the fact that they may not be extinct at all and just invisible- never a dull moment.
However, using guided meditations before bed allowed them to still use their imagination, but enter a deep state of relaxation, which put them to sleep! This never happens easily. Bonus!
The truth is a lot of kids experience more stress and anxieties than generations of the past.
Kids are busier. There are more standard requirements and expectations in school now. With almost 70% of kids who have both parents working, kids see less of their parents, and also see how work stress affects them.
Teens now have more stress than adults!
Both kids and teens have less coping mechanisms and experience handling stress. More than half report not knowing what to do about it.
Meditation certainly isn’t the answer to everything (that’s debatable ;-)) but it really is the most simple and cost effective tool available to us…and our kids. As parents we aren’t always the best role models for managing stress, but we can be. As we take care of our own stress, it seems to have a positive domino effect on our kids.
I began meditating and suddenly my kids were interested too.
My son has since taken up yoga, which I’m not a fan of, but he wouldn’t have discovered it if it weren’t for my interest in meditation and relaxation techniques.
My daughter is reading about mindfulness for kids, and learning how to pause before reacting.
I’ll leave you with a few tips about how to incorporate meditation into your children’s lives…
1. Lead by example: As I mentioned above my son found yoga. He found it in a bookstore. I was looking at a book on mindfulness when he saw a book on yoga in a nearby section. You invite into your kids life what you invite into your own life.
2. Open dialogue: As a parent I hate….NO…I LOATHE…lectures. I still suffer from flashbacks as a youth being at the receiving end of another parental lecture. One way I’ve avoided this is as much as parentally possilopen discussions. I don’t force a topic, I just open it with something they’re already talking about or sometimes it can be related to a song or a book.
3. Everything comes down to breath: I had to chuckle at this one because my son loves his Hot Wheel movie. In the movie, a character has a catchphrase, “Everything comes down to waffles.” Waffles are pretty great! Back to breath… Each time my kids have become super upset at something, I have helped them first find their breath. Next I tell them to blow out as if they’re blowing out all the candles on their birthday cake. I know the common thing we hear is to take a deep breath in. As adults this may work well, but kids who are sobbing or panicking, etc are usually already sucking in enough air. Make sure they blow out, hard and completely!
4. Take them on a mindful walk: We forget to slow down as parents because we think we have to catch up to our kids’ pace, but there is something about a walk or nature that is calming for kids. Take this journey with them. Ask them questions about how the temperature feels, the difference is textures between leaves, colors of flowers, sounds on the trails. You’re teaching them mindfulness!
5. Guided Meditations: Guided Meditations for kids are designed like stories, but with the added benefit of calming techniques- relaxation breathing and body scanning to help relax their parts one at a time. It’s so important for kids to be able to read the signals of their body and calm themselves! In addition, they are so open to it if we take the lead!
I’m excited to offer my first two kids’ meditations! The butterfly adventure is their favorite and as an adult I love this one too.
Have an awesome weekend!