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Meditation can improve your child’s focus. Sensitive children need to learn to control their natural stress reaction, and learning meditation can be a good way of doing this.
1.Focus on one subject
It is not easy to relax when you are under stress and for meditation to be effective it must be practised regularly. Your child needs to lie on the back with arms at side and breathe deeply, the eyes should be closed during this exercise. Ask your child to imagine a peaceful scene and to focus on it maintain this position and visualize the scene for 2 minutes. After they have done the exercise ask them to think of somewhere they feel very relaxed, (perhaps on the beach), ask them to describe the colours, with their eyes fully closed and to imagine that they are actually there and ask them what they can see and smell.
2.Scanning mind pictures
Scanning the mind pictures is a powerful tool for older children, sometimes the parent may need to guide the meditation and take them through a scene. The beach scene is a good one with the crashing waves and the smell of the ocean. This type of activity will ultimately improve their focus and concentration. This exercise is fun and should not be stressful, the child will most likely enjoy the attention and experience.
There is however another side to guided visualisation/ meditation.
Children who have been abused are very stressed and alert at all times. They never allow themselves to go into a really deep sleep at night and get a lot less sleep than the average child. Deep sleep is important for development as growth hormone which is released at night and deep sleep helps to boost our immune systems. Also if stress hormones are being constantly released it can slow the brains development. These children will require professional meditation and visualisation in order to heal.
3.Closing eyes and counting breaths
This can be helpful if the child has a particular fear. Ask your child to lie on their back, close their eyes and breath deeply counting to ten. Then talk about what the child might do to overcome the fear. It may be waking up at night fearing there is a monster in the room, and the child needs to invent a phrase maybe from a favourite book, that he can repeat to himself to overcome the fear. The child will cope much better if he is giving himself more positive messages. This positive self talk can be done with children as young as 3. Use simple phrases like ‘I will be strong’, ‘I am brave’ as suggestions for the child to talk himself through a situation. The breathing is important as when we become tense we breathe shallowly and quickly through our mouths. One of the quickest ways to calm down is to focus on breathing and slow it down at least ten deep breaths and this should be practised every day for 2-3 weeks.
4, Close your eyes and practice imagining
Visualisation should also be practised daily to increase focus. Ask them to lie down on their back, close their eyes and to think of somewhere they feel safe and relaxed, and to imagine they are there. Then ask them to describe the scene for you including the colours and smells. Go into some detail about the picture that they are describing, this will help them to develop a good memory. Some prompting may be necessary with targeted questions, do this for about 10 minutes per day.
After a period of time they can start to visualize their goal.
After a few weeks of this exercise you will notice that your child’s memory is improving. If they are going into high school next year it may be a good time to start visualizing their goal. For example a child in my family always wanted to be an Airline pilot, but his Maths needed a lot of work in order to pass the exam, as the criteria is practically 100% pass mark. He spent two years in coaching after school and that helped, but not enough. We decided to try guided meditation and visualisation of his math goals. The therapy went on for one year, and his exam results improved, the second year kept him on task towards his goal and last year he achieved 99.5% in the exam and his name was on the Honour Role. He is now in flight school and working towards a career in aviation. This would not have been possible just with coaching, he required the extra impetus that the visualization gave him. With many of these children it is a very good program to start early, they won’t know what they want to be later in life, but helping them to attain simple goals will establish a habit. In life it is important to be focused and not to drift as life is so competitive now that there is a lot of competition for every University or College position. Visualization is something the parents can do and work with the child at home. When they do achieve their goal you will know that your help has gone a long way to getting them there.
Self talk is very important in visualisation as it shows how much our thoughts influence how we feel physically. This can start by getting the child to talk to themselves in a much more positive way. This involves asking the child to think of a phrase that makes them feel better in a stressful situation.
The other important thing is parental modelling where the parent shows the child how they cope in a stressful situation.
If they are giving a talk at school, of course, they will be stressed, but there are a few tricks to getting through these situations and adults learn them after a while. One is to tell yourself ‘it will be over soon’, another is promise yourself a treat ‘ I will go to McDonald’s after school, these small examples of positive ‘self-talk’ do work if you say them over and over you will go a long way towards achieving your goal.