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Meditation with Toddlers

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Does your child get distracted very easily and cannot concentrate / focus on any one thing? My daughter was very restless and hyper and wanted to conquer the world. She was like a storm in my house and she would often open a drawer and remove things, start playing with a musical toy, remove crayons and papers and many such things one after the other. She didn't spend more than a couple of minutes on either one and was quick to get bored and rush to the next item. At first I thought she had access to way too many toys. To solve this I removed some toys from her collection but even this did not deter her. Then I thought maybe she is not understanding what I expect, so I kept repeating to clean up and put back things before you remove the next item. Very soon did I realise, that language was definitely not the issue, as even though she was 4 years old she had the vocabulary and language skills of a 6 year old.

I was introduced to meditation through a friend, Tasniiem Shariyar, who lives in the neighbourhood. When I tried it for a few days and saw the benefits, like increased efficiency and productivity for myself, I decided to try it with my daughter. Her mind was racing in all directions and she wanted to do everything at once without focus on any one thing. So here I was trying to make her meditate. For my daughter I tried something different called 'light channeling' and here are the steps I followed:

1. Close your eyes and take deep breaths. Imagine an ocean of light above your head and your body is empty like a bowl.
2. Now imagine a light entering your body from this ocean above your head and filling up your empty body.
3. Your feet are now full of light. They are bright like a bulb or lamp.
4. Now both your legs are filled with the light.
5. The light is now going up to your hips, stomach, chest and neck.
6. Your face is also getting filled up with the light and now your head.
7. Your whole body is full of light. You are bright, peaceful, happy, and pure.
8. Now your body is ready to give light to your surrounding and to the rest of the world and make it a better place.

I would also whisper a few words of positive reinforcement like you are calm and relaxed. You like to clean up your toys before you take a new one etc. We did this every night before going to bed.

Only after a few weeks I could see a huge change in my daughter. She was more calm, composed, happier, more willing to listen and above all focused. She now can spend hours alone in her room playing with her lego blocks, creating new structures and imaginary scenes and games with them. She also cleans them up by sorting the blocks according to their colour and keeps it neatly in her cupboard.

Just treating meditation as a stress management tool misses the point of the practice. Meditation is a tool for developing a form of self-awareness called mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to watch what is going on in your mind and your body in a detached way rather than just being caught up in your thoughts and actions. This mindfulness enables you to develop skills that make you more emotionally and intellectually intelligent. Mindfulness makes you a more effective learner. Research shows, that children of 3-5 years of age, have the attention span of roughly 5-15 minutes. Perhaps, Meditation is the answer to the difficult question of how to get them to focus and complete tasks that require a longer time span.

Meditation is the one thing which helps toddlers relax and grow up to be calm, composed, focused and happier individuals. I highly recommend to make this a routine for your little one as well.

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Written By -- Insiyah Rahim (Director, Toddlers Nursery & Learn2Teach)

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