Every day our children are bombarded with impressions: screens, the internet, over-scheduling of activities, information overflow, long packed school days, etc. Their lives are busy—and, believe it or not, our sweet kiddos can experience stress.

One of the most typical ways for parents to see signs of stress, depression or anxiety is if their child has a hard time falling asleep. Children today in general sleep one hour less than we did 25 years ago. Other signs of stress in children include headaches, stomach aches, ticks and hyperactivity.

One very effective way is to help our children deal with and process stress is to meditate. Meditation can both prevent stress in children and help heal children who deal with stress. It’s also a wonderful way to help children unplug and unwind after a long day, which prepares them for peaceful nights of sleep.

And there’s no need to be intimidated, mama! You don’t need to have any experience with meditation yourself in order to be able to help your child get started with it. Here are six ways to start…

1. Children’s yoga classes

If your child likes to move, yoga could be a good way to learn the basics of meditation. In the Western world, our perception is that yoga is mainly a source of exercising. Yet, it’s origin (thousands of years ago) was for meditation purposes. And now, most yoga classes for children also include time for relaxing and meditation.

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So, how do you get started?

Look for a local children’s yoga class. Join your child if you can and learn from the instructor, so you can also do yoga at home.

2. Teaching mindfulness at school

Mindfulness practices offer children tools to calm their bodies down, to relax their minds and to help them deal with their thoughts. Mindfulness meditations often focus primarily on breathing: children learn how to turn their attention back to their breath when their thoughts begin to wander. This not only helps children to relax, but also helps them concentrate better in school.

So, how do you get started?

Ask your child’s teacher if the school discusses and practices mindfulness. If the school doesn’t offer mindfulness, start a dialogue with the school staff about the many benefits of mindfulness for children.

3. Deep breathing

Deep breathing is a great technique to teach your child. Breathing is so natural for us and helps us regulate in many ways. When a child gets nervous, anxious or overwhelmed, deep breathing can help the child return back to balance. By teaching deep breathing at home, you can help your child to remember to tap into this technique at difficult times throughout their day.

How do you get started?

Start by focusing on their breath. Talk about where in the body he can feel his breath. In his nose? Throat? Chest? Tummy? Ask him to count while breathing. Breathe in for three seconds, hold your breath for three seconds, breathe out for three seconds and pause for three seconds—until you start again.

When you have practiced this technique for a while you can make the sequences longer and longer and the breathing deeper and deeper. This technique is very good for both adults and children who cannot fall asleep. Every time your mind wanders—and it will—you can refocus on counting and breathing.

4. Body scanning

Scanning the body is fantastic to teach a child to switch her attention from the busy mind to the tired body.

How do you get started?

Have your child lie down and help her relax every muscle by mentioning all body parts one by one in a calm, loving voice. Practice deep breathing as you go along. For some children quiet music in the background helps. Imagery helps, too—you can use all kinds of scenery. For instance, ask your child to imagine that she is lying in a fresh meadow in the summer sun.

Feel free to incorporate massage by gently rubbing oil into their skin. Being touched like this has a calming effect in itself. Ask questions along the way, to make your child feel the body part in focus. For example, ask how it feels to relax her feet. Children’s feet are so busy all day long. Now they are tired. How do tired feet feel? If they had a color right now what color would they have? How do tired feet look? Etc.

5. Mantras

You can rehearse saying mantras with your child. A mantra designed for your child’s specific challenges in life can be very helpful to your child when repeated over and over again.

How do you get started?

By repeating the same sentence you and your child find important, you can also help your child into a meditation. Rehearse the sentence and adjust it so it becomes easy to say. Have your child repeat the sentence with her eyes closed.

Here are some examples…

I am in love with life and life loves me.

I am always loved and love comes easily to me.

My heart is full of love and I love myself.

I let go of…

I am thankful for…

The world is a safe place and I am protected and safe.

I have all I need and I will always be able to take care of myself…

By body is healthy and my mind is strong.

6. Bedtime meditation

Bedtime meditations are very helpful to calm down the nervous system and decrease the child’s level of stress hormones. In general, we say that a child can meditate for the number of minutes equivalent to his age. However, if the meditation makes your child relax it can go on for a longer time and will ease the transition to sleep.

How do you get started?

Facilitate a calm, peaceful environment in your child’s bedroom with soft light, gentle music and even aromatherapy. For more guidance, check out my new children’s bedtime meditation book, “The Children’s Meditations In my Heart,” which will help your child to relax, feel loved and fall asleep.

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