Meditation is a popular mind-body practice that has been around for generations and can help reduce stress and promote calm. Meditation may be beneficial for people of all ages, including kids.
According to data from the 2017 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the number of children practicing meditation in the United States increased significantly between 2012 and 2017.
In this article, we look at some of the child-specific benefits of meditation. We also list some kid-friendly meditation apps to try.
Meditation has many potential benefits for people of all ages. These include:
- relieving pain
- lowering high blood pressure
- helping with anxiety and other mental health conditions
- reducing stress
- enhancing mood
Some researchers have looked into the benefits of meditation specifically for children.
A 2014 review on mindfulness programs in schools linked them to improved cognitive function and a greater ability to handle stress.
In an earlier randomized trial, researchers observed a decrease in attention problems among children aged 9–13 years who took part in a mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for children (MBCT-C) program. The decrease in symptoms was particularly significant among the participants who had anxiety problems at the start of the study.
A more recent study from 2016 studied the effects of a mindfulness meditation training program on a small group of children who were between the ages of 7 and 8 years. The results suggested a link between meditation practice and a reduction in attention problems.
However, the researchers noted a discrepancy between the student and teacher reports. This finding, along with the small sample size, indicates a need for further study.
It is important to note that the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health caution people against replacing conventional treatments with meditation. This advice applies to people of all ages.
There are several different types of meditation, all of which usually involve similar elements. These include:
- a quiet space with limited distractions
- a comfortable position
- a particular focus of attention
- an open attitude from the person meditating
Some forms of meditation that may be suitable for young people include:
- Mindfulness meditation: This type of meditation often uses breathing exercises to help focus the mind. It can also involve a person focusing their attention on a particular body part or sound.
- Guided meditation: With this type of meditation, the person meditating listens to a guide, teacher, or practitioner — either in person or via an audio recording. Some forms of guided meditation have a specific purpose, such as helping with insomnia or anxiety.
- Mantra meditation: This kind of meditation involves repeating a specific word or saying, sometimes out loud. Om is a common mantra that people often chant at the start and end of their yoga practice. Repeating the phrase as part of meditation helps focus the mind and limit distracting thoughts.
Appropriate forms of meditation and the optimal length of practice may vary depending on the age of the child. It may take some experimentation for young people to find a style of meditation that suits them.
Younger children can find it challenging to focus for a long time, so short sessions may be best.
Yoga is another practice that sometimes involves meditation or reflective elements. According to the 2017 NHIS, 8.4% of children in the U.S. practiced yoga in 2017.
A variety of meditation apps is available on the market, including options specifically for kids. Below is a list of some of the most popular meditation apps for young people:
Headspace (for kids)
Headspace is a popular meditation app. It includes a massive library of guided meditations.
Meditation themes for kids include calm, focus, kindness, sleep, and wake up.
Guided sessions, breathing exercises, and visualizations are available for multiple age groups other than adults. These age groups include 5 years and under, 6–8 years, and 9–12 years.
While Calm is not a kid-specific app, it does contain a variety of resources for young people, including a series of meditations specifically for those under the age of 18 years.
The “Calm Kids” section of the app has a slew of beginner meditations, some of which are as short as 2 minutes. The app also features a series of sleep stories to help lull kids to sleep.
Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame
Children can learn a variety of skills, including calming breathing exercises, with the help of on-screen friends from the television series Sesame Street.
The bilingual app (English and Spanish) also features a host of resources for parents or caregivers. In addition to mindfulness, the app encourages children to problem-solve, cultivate self-control, and learn planning skills.
The Sesame brand app is best for children aged 2–5 years.
The Mindful Family app is a free app with a base library of guided meditations for adults, children, and families.
Additional meditations are also available as in-app purchases. The app’s selection of meditations is suitable for those aged 4 years and older.
This app is the product of an Australian nonprofit organization. It features mindfulness and meditation programs for people of all ages.
The app includes a variety of programs, from family oriented sessions to classroom- and workplace-friendly practices.
There are a few options for children aged 3 years and up, but most of the app’s library is appropriate for those aged 7 years and older.
DreamyKid Meditation App Just for Kids
The DreamyKid app has various mindfulness categories to choose from, including guided journeys and sleep stories.
Most of the meditations are suitable for those aged 3–17 years. The app is also free for schools, hospitals, and other institutions or practitioners who work with children.
The Mindful Powers app is specifically for children between the ages of 7 and 10 years. It features guided meditation sessions, a focus timer, and a few other interactive tools.
The base app, which includes three unlocked sessions, is free. However, unlocking the rest of the sessions costs $4.99.
It is currently only available for Apple devices.
Meditation is a useful stress reduction tool for both children and adults.
Parents and caregivers who wish to introduce children to this type of mindfulness practice can choose from a range of available apps.
Meditation apps for kids feature many different types of practice, including guided audio meditations to promote calm and sleep stories to help kids fall asleep.