Do you feel that you would like to begin sharing meditative and spiritual ideas with your children? Once your ‘Little Buddha’ is old enough to comprehend the bigger things in life, it is important to start giving him the tools he needs to navigate his spiritual well-being. But breaking down deep concepts for little minds can be tricky and, quite frankly, overwhelming.
One of the easiest things you can do is to invite your child to join you in your daily routine. Don’t disappear behind closed doors, as it is important for her to see you actively meditating. Remember that ‘more is caught, than taught.’
Use Teachable Moments
When your child is stressed or in an overwhelming emotional situation, use that opportunity to reach out and explain how to best handle big emotions. I like to tell my children that I want to help them by giving them another “tool for their toolbox.” The tools are either coping mechanisms or simply concepts that give them a voice and an understanding of what is going on inside their head. This helps them learn how to interact with others, as well as how to embrace their own feelings.
Some of the ‘tools’ that help kids feel grounded are things like:
- Deep breathing.
- Understanding the definition of empathy.
- Feeling the release that comes with a good cry.
- Having death explained as a ‘Circle or Cycle of Life.’
- Learning the joy of giving to others.
- Figuring out how to receive and offer forgiveness, both to oneself and others.
- Exploring how to vent anger safely and effectively.
- Using music to help them focus quietly.
There are certainly many more than these, but hopefully this will give you a good idea of where to start. Each child has specific needs, and each scenario is an opportunity for more ideas.
Freedom of Mind
Keep explanations simple enough that your child can grasp the concepts you are presenting, but don’t be afraid to stretch their vocabulary. It is amazing how capable children are of figuring out concepts that even some adults struggle with. Don’t underestimate your child’s ability to comprehend spiritual topics. As long as you are intellectually honest with your children, you will find that they can easily decipher between fact and fiction. This is will help them as they mature in their spiritual growth.
It is very important that children are taught to think for themselves. Avoid religious indoctrination or perpetuating mythical stories as truth, as these methods do not allow free-thinking or a flourishing of one’s own inner mental and emotional strengths. It is okay to encourage fantasy and imagination with kids, but not under a guise of reality. Anything that causes a child to act (or believe something) through fear or confusion is unhealthy.
Instead, teach general concepts that transcend specific religions, but that dwell on positivity, peace, and love. Much ancient wisdom that can be remembered in short but easy-to-remember quotes and sayings are perfect for helping young people retain important ideas that can guide them in the future.
Finding Their Own
Helping your children block the noise and chatter of negativity in their life is an important part of their upbringing. Give them both time and space to find quiet solace on a regular basis. Encourage them to ‘find their zen.’ Sometimes we need a gentle reminder that life is getting too chaotic and it is time to find a peaceful place. With time and practice, children will learn when to take these breaks themselves, but until they do, your guidance can give them them the release they need to wind down.
Never use meditation as a punishment, and don’t liken it to being “in time out,” as that can lead to feelings of loneliness and sadness. Speak about it with reverence, and as a place of healing. Stay near your child, if necessary, while they are meditating so that he or she can feel your presence and support.
When the time is right, share spiritual ideas with your Little Buddha buddies that help them explore fun and interesting concepts such as consciousness, enlightenment, karma, one’s personal aura, and other topics that give them a sense of themselves outside of their physical body. Don’t worry if they don’t fully grasp these things and keep the conversations lighthearted, as the important take away is that they begin to feel a connection with their inner being as well as the universe at large.
What begins as a realization from babyhood that *I* am a distinct and important being, with individuality, eventually blossoms into finding one’s place in the vastness of dimensions and space of this experience that we call life. You are so blessed as a parent to be the one to help your child through this process.