In today’s highly competitive world, children have to face a lot of academic and social pressures. Most caretakers don’t realize that these pressures can be debilitating for the child and give rise to a host of mental ailments in adolescence.
Anxiety and depression are not uncommon in children anymore. According to an article by the CDC (Center For Disease Control and Prevention), 7.1% of children aged between 3 – 17 have diagnosed anxiety, and 3.2% have been diagnosed with depression.
The greatest academic stressors include getting good grades, finishing assignments and homework on time, high achievement expectations, and peer and parental pressure.
Education is an essential part of a child’s life. It shapes their future and helps them excel in their studies. Therefore, It’s important for them to have sharp concentration skills.
Practicing meditation regularly can help children with many physical and mental health benefits. Some studies have further indicated that practices like mindfulness and meditation are also helpful for kids with ADHD.
There are many types of meditation one can practice, such as Mindfulness meditation, Transcendental Meditation (TM), love-kindness meditation (metta), walking meditation, and many more.
I spend most of my time practicing mindfulness meditation, but sometimes I practice other techniques. All meditation practices are helpful, and it’s up to your personal preference as to which one you choose to practice.
Some of the benefits of meditation in children are listed below.
Meditation Increases the Fluid Intelligence
There are two types of intelligence; crystallized (cerebral) intelligence and fluid intelligence.
Crystallized intelligence uses all the information already stored in our minds through reading, watching television, listening to podcasts, seminars, and reading informative blogs such as this one.
As you age, your crystallized intelligence becomes better. That is the predominant belief across most western cultures.
On the other hand, fluid intelligence is the capacity to identify patterns, think logically, and solve problems in a novel situation. This is completely independent of the knowledge acquired through reading, watching, and listening, as was in the case of crystallized intelligence.
It’s the ability to be ingenious in a situation about which you have not acquired any information in the past.
Scientific studies show that meditation increases fluid intelligence. These studies also showed that the changes were long-lasting and significantly enhanced creativity, concentration, and self-awareness.
Meditation changes your brain chemistry altogether and greatly enhances creative thinking and IQ levels.
Enhances Creativity and Reduces Stress and Anxiety
As I mentioned earlier, student life is very taxing and stressful due to academic pressure and high expectations from family and peers. Therefore, relaxation is a must for students.
Meditation influences the PFC (Pre Frontal Cortex), the most evolved part of our brain. Research shows that it significantly affects executive functions such as memory, learning, reasoning, problem-solving, creativity, impulse control, and many more.
Scientific studies show that meditation increases the thickness of the prefrontal cortex and increases brain functions. Due to the increased thickness of the PFC, a region in the brain called the amygdala reduces in thickness.
The amygdala is associated with the ‘fight or flight’ response of the brain, which is generated due to stress, whereas the PFC forms the logical and the rational part of our brain.
Develops better Focus and Concentration
With reduced levels of stress and anxiety, it’s but natural that you’ll better concentrate on your studies. Meditation also helps calm down the ADHD symptoms like emotional reactivity and impulsiveness.
ADHD is a disorder in which it gets difficult for the child to pay attention and control impulsive behaviors. ADHD symptoms begin during childhood and continue throughout adolescence and adulthood.
Mindfulness meditation specifically, helps in developing an individual’s inner skills. It makes us more aware of our emotional state and gives us the ability to control our attention and increase focus.
Children as small as 5 years old, suffering from ADHD can be introduced to subtle concepts of mindfulness. For more information, check out my article Why Should We Teach Mindfulness to Children.
It goes a long way in developing self-compassion, builds emotional resilience, and creates a sense of overall well-being in children.
Improves the Quality of Sleep
Reduced stress and anxiety results in a better quality of sleep for children, and as a result, their productivity increases manifolds. A good night’s sleep is crucial for the proper functioning of the brain.
Needless to say, but lack of sleep can cause a wide range of physical and psychological problems. Meditation helps the mind to relax fully, and a relaxed mind allows for better sleep.
Helps in Better Grasping of New Concepts
A focused mind is better at grasping new concepts. Therefore, It increases the child’s curiosity to explore new ideas.
Meditation helps to improve the attention span in children and college students, and as a result, their minds are more receptive to new information and concepts.
It helps them to achieve excellence in their academic records which gives a tremendous boost to their self-confidence.
Helps with Visualization Capabilities
Most college students set goals for themselves, like getting good grades in subjects, finishing assignments on time, taking part in extracurricular activities, personality development, and much more.
But some of them fail to achieve these goals simply because they cannot overcome the resistance offered by their own mind. The underlying subconscious fears are usually the culprit.
Visualization meditation techniques help children to visualize feelings of accomplishment.
It works by recalling how they feel when they achieved small goals given to them. The feeling associated with past achievements is used as the foundation to program success in the future.
These potent techniques help in programming the subconscious mind, a powerhouse of unlimited potential and creativity. It has been scientifically proven that visual cues help us learn better than auditory and other learning forms.
Positive affirmations are beneficial when it comes to personal development. Continuously repeating affirmations in our conscious mind helps transfer positive thoughts to our subconscious mind.
When you get up early in the morning, your body is fully relaxed, and your mind is also calm. This is the best time to practice affirmations. You can start by saying, “I will make the most out of this day today.”
It’s better to meditate for 10 to 15 minutes (or 2 to 5 minutes for small children) before you start your affirmations. That way, the mind makes space for the affirmations to sink in.
If you are starting new, it’s natural for doubts and negativity to creep in now and then, but don’t get discouraged and keep practicing.
With time these doubts and unproductive thoughts will reduce, and you will begin to believe more and more in your affirmations.
You need to believe in positive thinking. If you don’t believe that you are a positive person and that positivity can help you, then nothing can.
That’s why it’s important to combine meditation with positive affirmations. Meditation calms your wandering mind (also known as the monkey mind) and helps you believe in your affirmations.
Some of the positive affirmations that can help children and teens (including grown ups) are as follows:
- I’m a calm, relaxed, and happy person.
- I’m a good learner, and I’m getting better every day.
- I’m not a procrastinator, and I complete my assignments and homework on time.
- I’m fully capable of building a better future for myself.
- I deserve success in life, and I will get it.
- I will give my best in everything I do.
- I will keep myself relaxed while studying.
- I will keep myself away from distractions and negative emotions.
- I will fully concentrate on my tasks for the day.
- I’m a smart and intelligent person.
- I will not allow anybody to make me feel bad about myself.
The Practice of Keeping a Gratitude Journal
Cultivating feelings of gratitude improve health, self-esteem, immunity, and much more. It not only makes us mentally strong but also helps in developing empathy for others.
You can develop gratitude towards anything and everything in life. For example, you can be grateful for your good health, for having a loving and supporting family and friends.
You can be grateful to your teachers, who take pain in preparing extensive course materials and help you cope with your studies. You can be grateful to your friends who help you out with the notes, for the classes you miss.
When you practice gratitude, you realize that the source of that goodness which you possess, to some extent, lies somewhere outside of yourself. Positive psychology also says that gratitude is consistently associated with the feeling of happiness.
You can record your thoughts for the day in a gratitude journal. It doesn’t have to be a whole paragraph; you can write short one or two short lines of gratitude about the positive incidents that took place a particular day.
Meditation is a simple activity that can be done anywhere and at anytime. Just getting started with 5 to 10 minutes a day can make a huge difference in your life as an academic student.
Also, introducing your children to meditation practice early on will impact their minds in a very positive way and promote a healthy mind-body image.
Check out our Super Mindful Kids PDF guide – A collection of highly effective mindfulness activities for kids aged between 2 to 10.