Written by SMH Mother-Baby Discharge Facilitator Sheera Thomas
This morning, my 10 year old was talking again about the recent school shootings across the country, the continued rumors of more threats, upcoming standardized testing at school, and needing to gather all the things he would need for the weekend at his dad’s house.
Children today have so much more stress in their daily lives than generations before. Coping with stress is a necessary life skill that I am still trying to master, and I want to give my kids the tools they need to learn how to simply take a moment to pause. Just focus and breathe. We all need to “unplug,” and give our brain a break from the constant overstimulation.
Meditation has been around since ancient times and has been consistently proven to boost health, as well as rest the mind, body and spirit.
I encourage my children to spend a few minutes meditating a few times every day — before going to bed, when they first wake up, before an exam or starting homework — and if they are feeling frustrated or overwhelmed.
There are many types of meditation practice, including concentration, mindfulness, movement based, cultivating positive emotions and emptying.
Many meditation practices use breathing techniques to promote calmness, the most common being mindfulness, meditation of breath. You can try this one by sitting quietly, resting with your eyes closed and focusing on your breathing. As thoughts drift into your mind, simply let them go without judgment and return your focus to your breathing.
Meditation can improve behavior and ability to pay attention in school-aged children and can reduce ADHD symptoms. It also calms the nervous system and decreases stress hormones, research has shown.
How long and how often someone should meditate to maximize benefits depends on the person and the type of meditation they are doing.
Pediatricians offer these guidelines:
- Preschoolers should meditate for a few minutes each day.
Grade-school children should spend 3 to 10 minutes meditating, two times a day.
Teens and adults should meditate for 5 to 45 minutes, or more, per day, based on preference.
Talk to your pediatrician about adding meditation to your child’s wellness routine.
SMH Mother-Baby Discharge Facilitator and Lactation Consultant Sheera Thomas, RN, has been an OB nurse for more than 20 years. She is an internationally board-certified lactation consultant, a certified childbirth educator, and—perhaps her most demanding role—a mother of four.