Teaching a ten year old to meditate

My daughter is wound up and its time for bed, so she wants me to help her relax. We move through yoga poses with some success and then lie down. I tell her to clear her mind of everything but her breath. Thinking that is a challenge, I tell her she can pick a word - I like “peace” or “relax” or even “sleep.” She starts to giggle.

Her chosen meditation word is “butt.”

You can’t teach a ten year old to meditate, but you can exhaust her so that she can’t move. In the end it’s the same thing.

You certainly can teach a 10 year old to meditate, but not every ten year old will be able to maintain that type of focus. But at this age they might need

If she’s a visual child, it might help her to have a peaceful picture (it doesn’t matter what the picture is, as long as she finds it peaceful and comforting) to focus on. (The more visual child in my life uses a family photo and small piece of cloth sprayed with her grandmother’s perfum)

the more tactile kid in my world uses a smooth rock that she turns about in her hands to focus on.

Meditation is good, but it’s not the only option, some kids will do better unwinding by writing in a journal, or a hot bath, or ending the evening with a boring mindless task, or even by carefully organizing their things for the next day.

Try several things and go with whatever thing, or combination of things works. It can’t hurt for your daughter to explore multiple means of relaxation - she may thank you for those options as she grows and her life and stresses change.

She might need a little more to focus on than one word! My mudgirl will be ten the end of this month, and here are some things I do to help her unwind at bedtime:
She has a lava lamp in her room; I’ll tell her to just watch that and let her mind drift.
She has books. She’s allowed to read as long as she wants, as long as she lays quietly in bed and does it.
If she’s feeling really stressed, I give her something “happy” to focus on, like how nice our Christmas tree will look, or how pretty the first snow is going to be.

Instead of giving her single words to focus on, try giving her pleasant ideas.

I was raised by hippies, and they tried to teach all us kids to meditate. Lord amighty, did we hate it. I wanted to read a book or run around or chat with my friends or whatever. The last thing I wanted to do at any given time was try to sit still and free my mind of all distractions.

Some of those hippie parents of yesteryear make good money today teaching and leading meditation. But I don’t know of any of the now-grown kids who want anything to do with it.

We’ve been doing this for years. Sometimes its guided imagery, sometimes its meditation…it has various levels of success - it at least gets her to be still. Last night was the first time she was so squirrelly that “butt” made a good focus word. She does get to read as bedtime, has a journal, doesn’t like baths at night, and has been talked through enough guided imagery that she does that on her own pretty well - last night I think it was “mommy interaction” time.

I cannot meditate in the traditional ways - I have agitation problems so I use open eyes meditation: Colouring in to be exact (http://ezinearticles.com/?Mandala-Coloring---Relaxation-For-All-Ages&id=1753473) I don’t go into any of the woo woo* stuff but it does work very effectively. Perhaps you could get your kid to spend 20 minutes or so colouring in before bedtime.
*The way I do it is to use a fairly complicated geometric/abstract picture (particularly anything with repeated motifs) and to try and focus on the colours as I use them and where the next colour will go. My GP passes this stuff on to lots of her patients, it is used a lot by my mental health support group and the neaest psych unit has them available to patients.

I meditated only a few years later than that, around age 14 or 15. I had lots of reasons too, and quite frankly, I wish someone had taken me in hand earlier and sat me down and showed me how to do it. It really helped.

Meditation, hell. If you can just help a kid learn to bear tedium with grace, you’d be doing her a hell of a favor – not to mention yourself. There will be plenty of times in life when nothing will do but to sit quietly and patiently. I can do it, because I daydream, though no one taught me this trick. If you can get navel-gazing to work, more power to you. But a handheld game is probably not a good solution – it won’t teach patience, and may teach the opposite.

For what it’s worth.

I wonder if meditation gets taught to kids in cultures where it’s a more mainstream practice (maybe a culture where the majority religion is Hindu or Buddhist), and how young they start. My three-and-a-half-year-old niece is learning some prayers in her Catholic nursery school- I wonder if they teach meditation in Hindu or Buddhist nursery schools (or whatever the local equivalent is).

Amen. If you can teach her how to deal with those situations with no visible distractions (ie, no books, handheld video games, etc), it will help her when she has a boring class, has to go visit boring relatives, and so on and so forth. There are situations where someone will be offended if you don’t at least pretend to pay attention and not do something else, even though what is going on is boring to you.

I teach it - in somewhat limited form - to third grade Unitarian Sunday Schoolers. Usually when I am just about to lose it we stop what we are doing, lie on the floor, be as still as we can without touching each other for one minute. It only works if there are a relative few of them and if I make sure the ones poking each other are separated.

I do guided imagery sometimes with the same age in the same format.

I’ve had my own kids lie down and be “as still as you can” and then “feel your body get heavy and sink into the floor” since they were about your niece’s age. If you bill it as “you can feel yourself sink into the floor” that’s pretty cool and they’ll get still for long enough to get that feeling…

So the focus word wasn’t coming out of anywhere for her. It was just funny to me (and to her) that you’d pick “butt” as a focus word.

I didn’t really expect her to clear her mind of everything. I started there because that is how I start (and am not terribly successful at).

I thought that was funny, too. :smiley:

OK, so I’m not terribly mature. Growing older is mandatory, growing up is optional.

Yes, I learned it in my temple, and in other religious retreats. However as I said we didn’t start until i was a teen…BUT most of my young years, we were in MI, and there were very few Indians and mostly Muslims, so we never went to masjid, and the temple was…weird. The one we found in NY was very cool and very good to kids.