Children in modern times are often expected to juggle a wide variety of issues. They can be bombarded with information about global warming, school shootings, and the danger of strangers. They may have family members struggling with addictions or mental health issues. Add to that the challenges of bullying and just making it through modern testing cycles and it’s no wonder many children are feeling stressed.

Meditation provides the tools a child needs to handle these issues. Meditation relives stress. It helps to build focus, concentration, and memory as well.

Here are tips to build a healthy meditation practice for a child.

Start Slowly

Children’s brains by their very nature often have a short attention span. It’s best not to launch into an hour-long meditation practice as a starting point. Even many adults can’t manage this type of routine. Instead, start short and keep it fun.

Do a three minute walking meditation where for three minutes you closely observe everything you see without speaking. You just explore and examine. It might be tricky at first for some children to remain silent – their urge is to talk about every item. If they really can’t make it for three minutes, then try two minutes. The idea is to build on this over time.

Similarly, try a three minute sitting meditation where something of interest is put before them – maybe a rose blossom, maybe an action figure – and the student examines the item attentively for three minutes. This is all about building up that ability to concentrate and focus. The ability to stay on one point for a length of time. If you make the item something they are interested in, they’ll be more likely to stay on point.

Build Gradually Over Time

Over the weeks, slowly increase the amount of time spent on the task. There’s no need to race. It’s better to take the increases in small changes so that the student does not feel frustrated or as if it can’t be done.

Mix things up to maintain student interest. Walk in different locations. Explore looking at different items. If you can use background noise and/or scents, try different variations of those. It keeps the full set of senses engaged and also gives the student a chance to figure out which combinations work best for them.

Introduce Mantra Meditation

Meditating based on visuals is good to get started, but we don’t always have visuals around us when we need to relax. Once the student is doing well with object meditation, give mantra meditation a try. This is where the student focuses on a word or phrase.

This is a little trickier, because it’s all being done within the brain rather than with the help of senses. Still, it means the student can call on this skill no matter where they are – on a bus, waiting in line, or at their desk. Help them learn how to draw focus in on the repetition of their chosen word or phrase and to regain that focus when their mind wanders. Help them learn to be compassionately understanding when their attention does lapse, and to gently draw themselves back to the mantra.

Meditation is an incredibly valuable skill which builds attention, focus, and memory while releasing stress. The more that a student can learn to do this at any time in any situation, the more they’ll be able to handle the many challenges life throws at them.