3 Meditations to Help Little Kids Handle Big Emotions

Anxiety and depression in kids have been on the rise recently. Meditation offers one way to manage difficult emotions.

There's no doubt families could use more time to chill, especially now. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anxiety and depression in kids have been on the rise recently. Meditation offers one way to manage difficult emotions. "Just as you require your kids to brush their teeth every day, you can also teach them to 'brush their brain' by meditating," says Tejal V. Patel, author of Meditation for Kids. "I practice a few minutes a day with each of my boys, sometimes on their bed, in the playroom, or in the car." If your child has big feelings, talk through these ways to calm down.

kid meditating in the grass
Priscilla Gragg

If Your Child Feels Angry

You might explain that their body can feel hot or as if fire is shooting off from the top of their head. To cool down the mind and body, try the Sippin' Strawberry Smoothie meditation:

  1. Imagine you're holding a cold strawberry smoothie with a long, twirly straw in your hands.
  2. Make an O shape with your lips and put the straw in your mouth.
  3. Take a long, slow sip through the straw as you inhale: Siiippp.
  4. Close your mouth and slowly breathe out through your nose.
  5. Take as many sips of the smoothie as you need—you can even close your eyes—until the anger goes away.

If Your Child Feels Disappointed

Release that gloomy energy with a few Happy Dragon deep breaths:

  1. When a dragon breathes, his tummy gets really big. Imagine that as you breathe in through your nose to fill your tummy with lots of air.
  2. When your tummy is full of air, say "Haaa" as you breathe out through your mouth to get rid of sad feelings and bring your tummy back to its normal size.
  3. Take another deep breath in, and this time, let out a longer and louder breath: "HAAAA!"
  4. Try it again with your eyes closed. If you still feel upset, do it a few more times.

If Your Child Feels Worried

Help slow their racing thoughts—or the "traffic jam" inside their head—with the Stop-Sign Meditation:

  1. Stretch your right hand out in front of you like a big stop sign.
  2. Take a deep breath through your nose as you use your left pointer finger to trace up your right thumb. Stop at the top and hold your breath for a moment.
  3. Then trace down your thumb slowly while breathing through your mouth and saying "Aaaaah."
  4. Keep tracing up and down all of your fingers until you have finished tracing your whole hand.
  5. Now trace your other hand, but this time with your eyes closed. Don't forget to breathe!

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's October 2020 issue as "Take a Break to Breathe." Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here.

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