Teaching Kids How to Meditate in 4 Easy Steps

Image from New York Nursery and Child’s Annual Hospital Report, 1910


I’ve seen this article shared a bunch of times on Facebook about how using meditation has improved behavior at a school.  I’ve actually used a similar technique in the classroom and I can attest to how well it works. I learned about this meditation technique from a hypnotherapist that was recommended by my pediatrician to help with anxiety. This method takes it a step further by teaching the kids how to immediately return to that calm state of mind no matter where they are—even if they’re about to take a test, for example.

Last year, I taught creative writing to kids who did not necessarily choose creative writing as an elective, and therefore were very resistant to it.  Basically, if they didn’t choose an elective or their parents and didn’t submit the form, they were put into my class. Thus, I had some kids who were defiant or who simply could not stop talking, especially the seventh grade group who came in amped up right after lunch.

Teaching creative writing is difficult enough with kids who want to do it, but more so with kids who don’t. I needed a way to calm them down and hopefully teach them something they could continue using.

  • Tell the kids to shut their eyes and visualize a safe, calm space. The kids do this in their own heads and keep it to themselves. You could tell them, “It could be anywhere– outer space, a beach, your bedroom– wherever you like.” Tell them to picture the scene’s details fully—what are they hearing? Smelling? Who’s with them, or are they alone? And so on.
  • After a few minutes, tell them to open their eyes.
  • Instruct them to choose a secret signal, such as thumbs up, or crossing their fingers or toes, or whatever they want.
  • Now they do their secret signal and go back to visualizing for a few more minutes.

The idea is that they practice visualizing while they perform their signal. Then, if they need to be calm, they do their signal (thumbs-up) and their mind is automatically taken back to that place of calmness. The more they practice, the better they will get.

I was surprised at how well this simple exercise worked. Kids even told me they used it to help them calm down and focus in other classes.

Try it out.

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

2 thoughts on “Teaching Kids How to Meditate in 4 Easy Steps

  1. Hello Margaret. Nice to hear from you after a long time. I believe teaching kids to meditate is a brilliant idea. I wish it had been around when my youngest son was in kindergarten and first grade (unfortunately he passed away 16 years ago, and would have been in his fifties today). I was told by his teacher to give him Ritalin. I couldn’t bring myself to drug my son. He was, indeed, disruptive and hyper-active, but he appeared to outgrow it. After a stormy high school experience, he joined the army, and was incredibly successful, becoming a nuclear weapons specialist with a rank of sergeant, and being in charge of an entire platoon of nuclear weapons specialists. He attended university, majoring in engineering, and was going for his master’s degree when he died. Can you imagine what he might have accomplished had he had your meditation training as a young child?

    When are we going to get your next literary effort? I want to read another Margaret Dilloway story.

    Sincerely, Ursula Harris

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